McMaster University

McMaster University

Faculty of
Health Sciences

Researchers awarded $5.7 million to study pharmacist-led medication services to improve health of Ontarians

Published: May 31, 2013
Lisa Dolovich
Lisa Dolovich, associate professor, Department of Family Medicine

Researchers from McMaster University and the University of Waterloo received $5.7 million in funding today to study how to make the use of drugs more effective for patients and health-care professionals.

The funding, provided by the Ontario Ministry of Health and Long-Term Care (MOHLTC) through the Health System Research Fund Program, allows researchers across Ontario to study the effectiveness of provincial pharmacist-led medication programs. The team's goal is to study the quality, outcomes and value of pharmacist services and improve medication use.

The Honourable John Milloy, MPP for Kitchener Centre, announced the funding today at the University of Waterloo's School of Pharmacy.

The grant will go towards the Ontario Pharmacy REsearch CollaboratioN (OPEN) a new interdisciplinary research program led by professor Lisa Dolovich of the Department of Family Medicine of McMaster's Michael G. DeGroote School of Medicine and Nancy Waite of University of Waterloo's School of Pharmacy.

"Spending on drugs is the second largest expense in the province, and to keep health-care costs affordable we need to better understand and manage medication use," said Dolovich. "Ontario has spent more than $120 million on new pharmacist services. Our research will assess the effectiveness of these services and determine what barriers and facilitators are in place so people make the best use of them."

Waite said: "Pharmacists are Ontario's third-largest group of health-care professionals and the health ministry has gradually expanded pharmacist's role in medication management to provide more patient-focused care. The generous provincial support announced today will help institutions across Ontario study how pharmacist services can improve medication use and patient health outcomes as well as realize savings for our health-care system."

Investigators at Waterloo and McMaster will be joined by others from Western University, University of Toronto and the Bruyère Research Institute, a partnership of Bruyère Continuing Care and the University of Ottawa, to conduct the three-year research projects.

Milloy said: "This is a very exciting time for university research communities in our region and across the province. The new Health System Research Fund Program Awards will provide our scientific teams with the financial stability and the research capacity required to tackle key challenges facing our health-care system."

The program is officially titled "Fostering innovation and evaluating the effectiveness of Ontario pharmacist-led medication management programs."  It will evaluate Ontario's MedsCheck and Pharmaceutical Opinion programs, introduced in 2007 and 2011, as well as legislation introduced in 2012 to allow pharmacists to give influenza vaccines and the authority to renew and adapt prescriptions programs.

OPEN will also conduct pilot studies with pharmacists to evaluate potential pharmacist services such as chronic pain management and deprescribing guidelines — with the goal to reduce and simplify long-term medication use in the elderly and individuals in rural areas.

The project will provide training in health services research by mentoring students, postdoctoral fellows and junior faculty as they learn from and network with senior researchers and OPEN's key partners: MOHLTC, the Ontario College of Pharmacists and the Ontario Pharmacists Association.

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