Hub Health, By Sandeep Sodhi
Survey shows public likes advantages of Minor Ailment Assessment and Prescribing
As mentioned in a previous column, legislation passed in Nova Scotia authorizes pharmacists to assess and prescribe for minor ailments. Pharmacists anticipated the public would be pleased to have more and/or quicker options.
In keeping with the true nature of pharmacists, the Pharmacy Association of Nova Scotia decided to find out what the public would actually think about Pharmacist Minor Ailment Assessment and Prescribing by designing and conducting a research study.
First you may ask, what is a minor ailment? A minor ailment is a health condition that can be managed with minimal treatment and/or self care strategies.
In Nova Scotia, pharmacists can assess and prescribe for 31 such minor ailments. These conditions include ailments such as cold sores, heartburn and seasonal allergies.
The study was conducted during the summer of 2013. My pharmacy was one of the 27 that participated across the province.
When the recruited patients were surveyed, 99 per cent said they would use the minor ailments service again. Almost all said the service was beneficial and gave them access to healthcare sooner.
In a province with an aging population, some of whom have challenges accessing primary health care providers, patients clearly saw the value for themselves. Moreover, they also realized they were saving the healthcare system in Nova Scotia by utilizing their community pharmacist for minor ailments.
“Not having a family doctor would normally make me not seek treatment,” said one patient. “Now that I have the option of a pharmacist prescribing for minor ailments, I can get the help and relief I need while the doctors can focus their time and energy on more serious patients with life threatening issues.”
How quickly a pharmacist could see them was valued by patients. Same day or “on-the-spot” appointments were often available.
“If I had to go to the ER for this minor problem, I would have sat and waited four to six hours at least,” said another patient (not to mention this would be an inappropriate use of the ER).
Patients, especially those in rural areas, valued being able to see a pharmacist close to their home.
“My doctor has next week appointments and is a 30 minute drive away,” said a third patient.
Now that pharmacists have the authority to assess and prescribe for these minor ailments, patients can have the most appropriate health care professional address the condition at the right time close to home.
Minor Ailment Assessments and Prescribing is just one of the convenient services your pharmacist can provide. Your pharmacist is an expert on medications and their effects on the body. I encourage you to take advantage of their expertise.
March is Pharmacist Awareness Month in Canada. Each week your pharmacy will be spotlighting a different pharmacy service they provide. Watch for special events that will be taking place in your community pharmacy during the month of March.
Remember, if you have a minor ailment, it's not a major problem. The pharmacist is In!
Sandeep Sodhi, BSc., PhC. is a community pharmacist, manager and co-owner of Village Family PharmaChoice in Truro, and a member of the Pharmacy Association of Nova Scotia’s Public Relations Committee. He can be contacted at 902-843-RxRx (7979).