What to know about accessing care for minor conditions through Ontario pharmacists?

(Stan Tsykov is a Pharmacist and the owner of your local Shoppers Drug Mart on Main Street in Stittsville. Stittsville Central is pleased to introduce you his expertise in health matters.)

Imagine being able to receive the prescription for dermatitis at the onset of symptoms. As of January 1, 2023, this is a reality for Ontarians, with pharmacists now being able to provide convenient and accessible care by assessing and prescribing for 13 minor conditions (like dermatitis) at pharmacies.

On the list of minor ailments now treatable by pharmacists are UTIs, hives, and pink eye, among others. Minor ailments are uncomplicated and typically short-term health conditions that can be managed with self-care strategies and minimal treatment.(1) These conditions also don’t usually require lab results and are considered low risk with only minimal or short-term follow-up required.(2)

For pharmacists, being able to assess and prescribe for minor ailments is an extension of the important work we already do. Here are some of the ways we can support you, whenever you need it:

  • Pharmacists are making care more accessible and convenient: Much like booking an appointment for a vaccine or picking up your prescription at the pharmacy, the process of being assessed by a pharmacist for a minor condition is easy. A pharmacist, like myself, will discuss your condition with you and gather information on your symptoms, additional medical conditions, and other important information, such as allergies. Following the consultation, the pharmacist will determine what treatment method might be required. If appropriate, they will prescribe the treatment and conduct follow-ups to ensure you are on the mend, all covered under OHIP.
  • Pharmacists are working in tandem with other healthcare practitioners: It is important to remember that pharmacists are an extension of care, not a replacement. Pharmacists are also specially trained to recognize when a patient issue is serious enough that a consult with a physician should not be delayed. Physicians are an important part of your primary care, booking appointments for check-ups with your family doctor offers the baseline for your health and is a continued practice to ensure you are informed on your health progression year to year. As some of us have experienced before, it can be challenging to see physicians in a timely fashion – especially given schedules and shortages. Having a pharmacist readily available can be helpful in between appointments, giving you greater options when accessing care that you need.
  • Pharmacists can help bridge the gap: The COVID-19 pandemic highlighted the value of pharmacists and their ability to deliver care efficiently and effectively. As doctors’ offices filled up and emergency wait times grew, pharmacies presented the opportunity to bridge the gap in access to care during these times. Research has shown that nearly one-third of avoidable emergency visits for common or minor health issues can be avoided when managed by pharmacists.(3)

Access to care for minor conditions is simple and easy. Ontarians can book an appointment online or through the PC Health app, or visit their local Shoppers Drug Mart or Loblaw pharmacy. Visit ShoppersDrugMart.ca to find your nearest store.

(1) https://www.ocpinfo.com/practice-education/expanded-scope-of-practice/minor-ailment/
(2) https://www.ocpinfo.com/practice-education/expanded-scope-of-practice/minor-ailment/
(3) https://journals.sagepub.com/doi/full/10.1177/17151635221087621


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