Raised in Kitchener, ON, Brett is University of Waterloo Pharmacy grad part of the third graduating class from UW's co-op program in 2013. For the past ten years, Brett has proudly served the diverse, but underserved, community of Cochrane in Northern Ontario. He’s passionate about new developments in pharmacy practice that enable him to serve his community better.
Rimon manages a very busy pharmacy in the heart of downtown Toronto, after working in a # of places from big box retailers, outpatient pharmacies in hospitals and independents. Since Aug 2021, he manages City Life Pharmacy.
Nancy has been practicing since 2007, after graduating from Ferris State University College of Pharmacy in Michigan in 2006 and works in a very busy pharmacy in North York with several physicians and healthcare specialists in the same building.
If you have any questions, please reach out using the chat feature on www.medessist.com
Can we prescribe IUDs for patients that are overweight? Do we have to let their doctor know so they are not blindsided?
You may have to notify the Primary doctor for any Rx filled. That's usually done by fax. However, also IUDs may not be an option that pharmacists can prescribe in BC. So one of the things we try to help you with is sorting through that
Are special devices needed to do minor ailments like checking ear canals?
Usually, you are providing empiric therapy that does not require specialized tools. During the initial launch in BC, we don't expect that to change. In the future that may change for example in Alberta, you can provide strep throat testing. But this is not what we expect to see this year.
Are there special tutorials for diagnosing different conditions like ear infections?
So, in terms of minor ailments, we are here to assess and prescribe, but not necessarily to diagnose. It's a bit of semantics. You are providing empiric treatment quickly and following up shortly after to see if the patient needs to be referred.
Can we request lab work?
There's been some progress in allowing pharmacists to request lab work in Canada / US, but it's still rare and not something we anticipate at this point in time. Point-of-care testing is also a growing trend, for example, A1C or lipid testing in the pharmacy. However, it is something we can support with our new Careplan features coming next month in April.
What does this look like? I see someone with cystic acne, and I prescribe Clindoxyl gel and Doxy tabs after reviewing a checklist of questions.
Essentially, yes, we can go through a demo to show you what's involved after this discussion!
If a patient needed a referral to a doctor for a particular condition, are there templates available for respective conditions? Saving us some time typing the whole page?
You can share the whole documentation if needed or copy and paste parts of it that you want to share. We also have a new partnership that lets you make referrals to virtual physicians from within the platform. So the patient can wait about 10 minutes to see a physician, and the prescription automatically comes back to the pharmacy through our integration.
Would MedEssist be able to provide us with a tabular representation of the drugs that could be prescribed for a particular condition?
We show you 1st line treatments for each condition, including pre-filled instructions and quantity, but you can edit them as you, please. We've debated showing you more 2nd line or 3rd line treatments, but at some point, it may be best to refer.
On average, how long does it take to navigate through the whole process of 1 appointment?
When you open up the documentation, you'll see very quickly if there are red or yellow flags indicating if it's a complex or simple case. On average, it takes 5 minutes to complete the prescription, documentation, etc.… since a lot of the assessment is completed already through our system and you have to review it with the patient. The nice thing is if it is a complex case, you can quickly decide to refer. So those don't take more time necessary.
How much money do we get for minor elements?
We don’t know what you will get - that's up to the BC government. What we think is important is to find a way to make minor ailments as quick and stress-free as filling any other prescription. Our goal is to enable you to complete or refer assessments in 5 minutes. So whatever the compensation, whether it's $15 or $25, it'll be worth your time
How long, on average, are you spending on assessments for minor ailments? Is the compensation model adequate for the time spent?
We hope you’ll see that completing minor ailments can be as quick and stress-free as filling any other prescription with our system. Our goal is to enable you to complete or refer assessments in 5 minutes. So whatever the compensation, whether its $15 or 25 it'll be worth your time
Does MedEssist feed back into pharmacy software so the assessment can be reflected on at future visits? How is the information stored?
MedEssist does not automatically feed into the pharmacy system. You'll have to scan or upload the documentation. However, MedEssist handles all your scheduling and follow-ups too. So you can schedule a reminder to follow up, document the follow-up within MedEssist, fax the physician within MedEssist, etc. Thus, saving you as much time as possible is our priority. Over 90% of our existing customers use Kroll, Fillware, PharmaClinc, and others, and use our QR code scanning functions to enter data into their pharmacy software without any double entry.
What kind of staffing have you needed to successfully implement minor ailments into the workflow?
MedEssist does all the scheduling, promotion, and intake for you. In a way, it's like an administrative assistant. So you may not need extra staff (as noted by our panelists!). Now if you want to really promote Minor Ailments i.e. brand yourself as a pharmacist health clinic, you may have enough demand to warrant extra staff, but our goal is for that decision to be made by each pharmacy, and you're not forced into hiring extra staff.
Are the questionnaires available in other languages?
Unfortunately not. Hopefully, you have staff on hand that can help translate. Our smart forms are in patient-friendly language, so any staff member can easily assist patients through them. We have multiple languages for different services, such as flu shots, covid testing, etc. These medical questions need to be accurately conveyed, and when time permits, we'll be able to add that capacity, but as of now, we do not have the ability to have it in other languages.
Is there a way to print the assessment form for older patients beforehand to fill it out by hand? Instead of typing?
The forms and questions are dynamic, so patients are asked different questions based on previous answers. For example, Paxlovid prescribing questions are totally different based on their age. For older patients, we recommend training your staff to assist patients that are not tech-savvy with the forms so that you can fill them out on their behalf. Our smart forms are in patient-friendly language, so any staff member can easily assist patients through them.
Will the Minor Ailments choices and patient questionnaires be BC-specific once BC pharmacists can start prescribing
Yes. We have implemented province-specific workflows/tooltips for other services. We're still waiting for more information about BC specifically, but our goal is to have everything ready for BC pharmacists on the go-live date. In Ontario, we launched our solution on Dec 14th, and Minor Ailments went live on January 1st. We’re already working full-time on multiple drafts in preparation, and you can be assured we will have you ready to go. If you want to do a trial with us early and try out our existing minor ailments, you'll be able to do so immediately.
If I do a consult and at the end, a red flag warrants me NOT to give an Rx, can other pharmacies who pull up this patient's record see my notes? My concern is that a patient could be “shopping” for, say, eg an antibiotic and fail to mention a red flag if they know they won't be getting a prescription.
Patients cannot see which answers result in a red flag. Some red flags are emergency situations, in which we alert the patient to the ER. They cannot complete the form, and you will not see them in MedEssist. Other pharmacies will not have access to any documentation done by any patient registering for your specific pharmacy.
Without a urine test, how can you tell if the drug is resistant?
It's empiric therapy. In Ontario, for example, the pharmacist is expected to call the patient a few days later to check if they are improving. If not, they must be instructed to see a physician for a urine test. There are some great studies showing that pharmacists prescribing UTIs in this way resulted in a reduction in complications and healthcare dollar savings for the province.
Would there be a manual available to help us navigate through with examples?
Yes, we guide you through onboarding the new platform with quick video tutorials, and we're always seconds away on the MedEssist online chat.
Have Ontario pharmacies suddenly got a huge influx of patients waiting to see pharmacists for minor ailments? Were there more with bigger chain stores?
It's not a sudden surge since people will likely seek it when only when they need it, and that won’t come all at once. You will get questions about what you can and cannot do, so raising awareness and enabling patients to access these services is critical. The big chains are spending lots of money on marketing, but independent pharmacies can ride that wave as long as they show they are equally enthusiastic about offering it. Many of your own patients will see all that marketing and wonder if you can do the same, and by making it super accessible, they won't think twice about coming to you instead of walking in at a big box store. We'll help you generate large-size posters you can put in the front of your store to capture traffic and help you market in other ways, such as newsletters, campaigns, etc. It's a tremendous opportunity to capture new patients. Our platform lets you manage your time in a way that works for you, whether that's walk-in appointments or scheduled timeslots.
Were there more patients complaining because they misunderstood your prescribing authorities?
Overall, patients love how you can prescribe minor ailments. They are so incredibly thankful that you can help them with their UTI/Pain etc...
According to your answers, you'll have to see a physician, so it's not a decision you're making on a whim but based on a clear-cut system, and we have a partnership with MD connected launching next week, so you can quickly refer patients if needed.
Do Ontario or Alberta pharmacists prescribe and dispense as one? BC initially thought that the prescribing and dispensing pharmacists could not be the same person for the risk of conflict of interest or abuse.
Yes, you need to document consent. For example, we have a line that says that if a prescription is provided, patients are allowed to take that prescription to another pharmacy - so each patient has to check a box to confirm they've seen this.
Is there a monthly fee or an annual one?
It’s monthly! You pay a subscription, and you can cancel at any time. It’s one subscription for the whole pharmacy i.e., any number of pharmacists and staff. We want to focus on building the best product pharmacists want to use without locking you into a contract. You can cancel anytime if you are unhappy with the service.
How much would be the annual subscription for?
We have two plans for minor ailments - Standard ($35) and Premium ($50). However, for BC pharmacists, we’ll do a free 30-day trial for the Standard plan, where you can try it yourself. We don't do contracts, so there’s nothing holding you back.
Is there a demo that we can explore
You can book a demo with us at www.medessist.com, and we will enable BC pharmacists to do a 30-day free trial so you can play around it; we will provide you with a promo code.
Would you please be able to demonstrate the entire process from the start till the end for us to understand the screens and process better?
Of course, doing it right now(watch the recording). You can also book a demo on the website www.medessist.com
Over the last two months, we’ve helped hundreds of pharmacies implement this new scope of practice!
We've ace'd how to promote minor ailments so well, that we're now also helping pharmacists in provinces where they've been prescribing minor ailments for years, exceed the number of visits they've ever had before, thus broadening capacity for physicians and reducing ER visits.
Provinces like SK, AB, and even NL are now relying on MedEssist pharmacies to market, promote, and deliver minor ailments but also improve patients' health concerns in their own communities by enabling greater access to care.
As pharmacists, we have confidence in your clinical knowledge and expertise in keeping up with the new scope of practice.
Our goal, however, is to guide clinical practice and aid in promoting your new pharmacy services to attract new patients.
BSP, CDE: Clinical Project Lead
PharmD: Pharmacy Growth Advisor
With over ten years of experience as a practicing pharmacist,
Sascha has worked in the community setting, as well as as a Certified Diabetes Educator and an oncology pharmacist.
She will be accompanied by Norman Nguyen, PharmD, our Pharmacy Growth Advisor, who has worked with several digital health companies to improve the patient journey. The pandemic revealed that Canadians are most comfortable receiving care from their local pharmacy, and the top two services 80% of Canadians would like to remain include online booking + health services in the local pharmacy.
The MedEssist team are experts at this, and you can trust us to tell you what we are seeing, hearing, or how things are going in other provinces, and what this can mean for you and your pharmacy.