University of Toronto researchers create digital ‘atlas’ to support effective planning of pharmacy services

Researchers at the Leslie Dan Faculty of Pharmacy at the University of Toronto have launched an interactive atlas that provides an overview of pharmacist services in Ontario.

Among the first of its kind in Canada, the Ontario Pharmacy Evidence Network (OPEN) Interactive Atlas Tool enables regional comparisons, helping decision makers plan pharmacist services more effectively.

“This tool comes at a critical time for decision makers,” said Suzanne Cadarette, Associate Professor at the Faculty of Pharmacy Leslie Dan who is the principal scientist and author of the atlas tool.

“It describes the evolution of community pharmacy practice in Ontario, can be used as a guide for expanding pharmacy service delivery across Canada, and can help the delivery of health care services pivot in the face of challenges. external factors, including the COVID-19 pandemic. “

The province began funding several professional pharmacist services in 2007, starting with MedsCheck, a program that pays pharmacies for performing drug reviews in diabetic patients or for taking at least three medications for chronic conditions.

Ontario is also now funding programs where pharmacists communicate with prescribers about drug therapy issues, provide smoking cessation counseling, administer flu shots, and provide COVID-19 testing. .

In the initial research paper – recently published in the Canadian Pharmacists Journal – the authors describe how the interactive atlas tool OPEN enables a comprehensive analysis of regional trends and differences in the delivery of health services by professional pharmacists.

Using interactive data visualization software, researchers display large-scale health care administrative data from 2007 to the most recent available date, then manipulate it based on region, country. calendar year, sex and age. For example, users can click forward or backward by influenza season to compare influenza vaccination delivery over time, or play a video loop of the progress of influenza vaccine delivery by region. .

Thanks to these characteristics, the researchers found that more women than men aged 65 or older receive flu shots, but vaccination rates are higher in older men.

Future research papers for each service are being developed and will provide a broader context across Canada. The Cadarette research team urges other provinces and territories to consider creating similar descriptive atlases of pharmacy services as a starting point for discussion, collaboration and education.

“Community pharmacists are one of the most accessible primary health care professionals, providing a wide variety of evidence-based care. As such, the utility of a pan-Canadian tool would be enormous, ”said Ross Tsuyuki, professor and chair of the Department of Pharmacology, Faculty of Medicine and Dentistry at the University of Alberta. He is also editor-in-chief of Canadian Pharmacists Journal.

With additional funds, Cadarette hopes to update the atlas every year. His team is also working on a first descriptive analysis of the impact of COVID-19 on the service delivery of professional pharmacists.

The OPEN interactive atlas tool was funded by the Ontario Pharmacy Evidence Network (OPEN) Health Services Research Fund, the Government of Ontario and the Leslie Dan Faculty of Pharmacy.

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