The University of Toronto’s Leslie Dan Faculty of Pharmacy and Dalla Lana School of Public Health, along with Shoppers Drug Mart, have announced a new collaboration to study how pharmacists can better support Canada’s overburdened health system.
The research will review and evaluate what the expanded role for pharmacists might achieve, and how pharmacy teams can help improve access to care in communities.
Supported by a $3-million donation from Shoppers Drug Mart, the collaboration will create a strong engine for evidence and knowledge transfer around pharmacy practice, health policy, data science and improved patient care, said Professor Lisa Dolovich, dean of the Leslie Dan Faculty of Pharmacy and an expert in health systems research.
“Pharmacy teams reach more people daily than any other part of our health system. We are very excited about this partnership and the potential for pharmacy and public health experts to deliver viable and sustainable solutions for our health system that is currently experiencing incredible strain,” Dolovich said. “The COVID-19 pandemic brought significant challenges, but it also demonstrated the power of increased collaboration across health care. This donation provides resources needed to build on that experience and further strengthen the role of pharmacists to help meet patient needs in the community.”
The donation will support: research projects aimed at understanding the expanding role of pharmacists and how a more integrated health system can connect and leverage care in pharmacies; scholarships for students at both faculties working in the areas of pharmacy, health system improvement and other relevant issues; and real world testing and evaluation projects to be led in collaboration with the recently launched Discovery Pharmacy, based at the Leslie Dan Faculty of Pharmacy.
"To make our health systems more effective and resilient, we must enable each health professional to fully deploy their skills and expertise,” said Professor Adalsteinn Brown, dean of the Dalla Lana School of Public Health. “With this exciting partnership, public health and health systems researchers will help to alleviate critical gaps in our public health and primary care systems.”
This collaborative opportunity leverages the potential for research, innovation, and policy to address pressing public health issues and improve community-based, patient-centered care. Promising solutions and innovations will be developed, evaluated, and shared with academic and health system partners through formal knowledge mobilization efforts.
“The Canadian healthcare system is plagued by a number of complex issues, all of which require innovation and collaboration to overcome,” said Jeff Leger, president of Shoppers Drug Mart. “We believe pharmacists can play a vital role in a collective solution and are pleased to be partnering with the University of Toronto as they continue their work to ensure the pharmacists of the future are equipped to meet society’s ever evolving health care needs.”
In addition to creating solutions to improve access to community-based care, a key area of focus for this initiative is to examine and expand the use of population-level digital tools to help guide patients and their care providers to identify problems before they arise, recognize opportunities to better manage chronic conditions and generate evidence on how to develop new tailored ways of delivering health care.
“Sustainable, integrated and technology-enabled solutions in health care and public health are realistic and achievable,” said Dolovich. “Our efforts will support and improve the health of Canadians and the quality of our health system.”