The BC Pharmacy Association Conference, which took place in Whistler from May 25-27, was a great success by all measures. Feedback from attendees indicates that the speakers were very well received as they delivered excellent presentations on a wide variety of interesting and relevant topics. The social events were fun; especially the gala awards banquet where we honoured some of B.C.’s finest pharmacists.
As with all such events, for some attendees the highlights of the conference were the numerous networking opportunities. I witnessed many intense conversations between pharmacists from different banners, chains and independent pharmacies from all corners of the province, from Vancouver to Fort St. John. It is this sharing of ideas that fosters growth in the profession and makes us all better pharmacists and better business people.
Hot topics of conversation included the appointment-based model (ABM) for medication synchronization (med sync). The ABM is gaining a lot of traction, as it seems to be the first model for improving med sync that is showing promising results. This model has been shown to improve patient adherence by reducing the frequency and number of visits to the pharmacy and making the patient more accountable for managing their medication regimen.
Pharmacies that have implemented a med sync have seen immediate and significant benefits including increased operational efficiencies, more thorough therapeutic checks, improved relationships with patients and physicians, more meaningful patient contact and reduced prescription paperwork. Other areas of discussion included medical marijuana and the potential role for pharmacists in dispensing it, or at least counselling patients about its use alongside other medications.
As could be expected, there is always some chatter about pharmacy audits, third party payers and PharmaCare. More specifically, preferred provider networks seemed to be at the top of mind for many pharmacists. This topic is a bit baffling to me, as a number of pharmacy owners have somewhat hypocritical views on PPNs. On the one hand, they say that PPNs are unfair and limit patient choice while on the other hand many of those same pharmacy owners belong to at least one PPN. What many pharmacists don’t recognize is that many PPNs are “open” networks, meaning that they can join the PPN if they are willing to meet the criteria.
Of course, no conference networking would be complete without some conversations about scope of practice. This topic has a definite generational gap in opinions. Generally, older pharmacists do not seem to be as interested in expanding scope as the younger generations. The problem I see in expanding scope is that we are not doing a very good job of making use of the scope we already have available to us. For example, the number of prescription adaptations, while having increased recently due to the changes to the RDP, is still dismally low.
So where do we go from here? Do we really know what we want as a profession? Some pharmacists are more sure about what they expect from the future of the profession than others. The one thing that I know for sure is that there are lots of amazing pharmacists here in B.C. who have ideas and opinions that can lead us into the future with confidence to serve our patients well.