Health coaching programs a big step forward

The Tablet

As you’re hopefully aware, this spring the BC Pharmacy
Association (BCPhA) and Green Shield Canada (GSC)
launched two new health coaching programs for diabetes and
asthma. These services are available for beneficiaries of BCPhA’s
group extended health care (EHC) plan, which is administered
through GSC. That includes all of the Association staff, as well as
a large number of pharmacies who purchase EHC from BCPhA
for their own employees, their spouses and dependents.
For each service pharmacists
provide to eligible patients, you’ll be
compensated by GSC: $80 for the
initial consultation and $30 for each
follow-up (to a maximum of three
per year). And to make things even
better, the mandatory online training
programs are available free to all
BCPhA members until June 30, 2017.
This is a big deal for a number of
reasons. First of all, I’d encourage everyone to take the training,
whether you have eligible patients or not. We recognize the pool
of patients is relatively small specific to the BCPhA’s group EHC
plan, but the lifestyle recommendations and health coaching
training will be valuable to your practice in general. Secondly,
this is a great way to earn your continuing education credits.
The asthma and diabetes health coaching training programs are
CCCEP-accredited for 2.0 and 3.0 CEUs, respectively.
It’s also worth considering the opportunity to offer this as a paid
service to other patients. These health coaching services qualify
as an eligible medical expense under the Canada Revenue Agency
guidelines and the Income Tax Act. That means that patients can
claim the expense through their Health Spending Account (HSA).
An HSA is a group benefit offered by employers to employees
to reimburse a wide range of health-related expenses, over and
above regular benefit plans.
But even more importantly, as a pharmacist I know this is a really
big step forward in demonstrating the value of these types of
pharmacy services to other payers. Think about the statement
it could make if the majority of pharmacists take these training
programs and show that they want to expand their clinical service
offerings.
The BCPhA has long been advocating not just for expanded
scope of practice, but for the reimbursement of these services,
whether from government or private payers. As an employer, it’s
now about taking action, or as some have said, “walking the talk.”
The Association and its plan members have added this to our
employee benefit plan. Now, we can hopefully encourage other
member and industry employers to do the same.
While many people believe that paying for paramedical services
such as physiotherapists or massage therapists is at the
discretion of the insurance company, it’s actually the employer
(the plan sponsor) who can request what’s covered under their
insurance plan. That’s important because it’s critical that we
demonstrate to not only health insurance companies but also to
employers the importance of pharmacists’ role.
Now it’s up to us as practicing pharmacists – and also those of us
as employers – to play our part. I hope you’ll join me in doing so.

“Think about the statement it could make if the majority of pharmacists take these training programs and show that they want to expand their clinical service offerings.”

This article is featured in The Tablet. The Tablet features pharmacy and industry news, profiles on B.C. pharmacists, information on research developments and new products.