Canadian Pharmacists Association
Canadian Pharmacists Association

Pharmacists lead the way in reducing ER visits: A Nova Scotia success story

June 5, 2024 (Ottawa): Recent developments in Nova Scotia highlight the critical role of pharmacists in primary care, marking a significant transformation in health-care delivery. A government report reveals that pharmacy clinics in Nova Scotia have contributed to a nearly 10% decline in emergency room visits for non-urgent or less-urgent cases, which further reinforces the vital impact of pharmacists in alleviating the burden on traditional health-care facilities.

Pharmacy clinics, where pharmacists provide direct patient care, have emerged as effective alternatives for non-emergency health issues. These clinics offer services such as vaccinations, chronic disease management, medication reviews and minor ailment assessments. This model not only reduces emergency room wait times but also improves overall patient outcomes.

Key to this success is the accessibility of pharmacies, which often have extended hours and same day appointments. This improved access is especially important for patients in rural or underserved areas. By providing timely and accessible care, pharmacies and pharmacy clinics help prevent minor health issues from escalating into emergencies.

Pharmacists bring extensive knowledge about medications, but they are also educated to support patients throughout their disease journey, as well as assess for a range of common ailments. Their expertise is crucial in managing chronic diseases, ensuring patients are on the right medications, identifying potential drug interactions and providing general health advice. This proactive approach enhances patient health and reduces the likelihood of complications requiring emergency care.

The Nova Scotia experience should serve as a model for other provinces. To replicate this success, there needs to be a policy shift to formally recognize and integrate pharmacists as primary care providers, allowing pharmacists to work to their full education, and ensuring adequate funding and resources. Public awareness campaigns are also essential to inform patients about the types of services available and the benefits of pharmacy clinic services.

The Nova Scotia report is clear: empowering pharmacists to play a more active role in health care benefits the entire system. The nearly 10% reduction in emergency room visits for non-urgent or less-urgent cases is just one of the many advantages of integrating pharmacists into primary care. By expanding the role of pharmacists, providing necessary resources and increasing public awareness, Canada can create a more efficient, accessible and patient-centered health-care system.

The Canadian Pharmacists Association is bringing together pharmacy leaders from across the country on June 6, 2024, along with leading health-care professionals, policymakers and patient advocacy groups, for a national summit to discuss the future of pharmacy in primary care.

About the Canadian Pharmacists Association

The Canadian Pharmacists Association (CPhA) is the uniting national voice of pharmacy and the pharmacist profession in Canada. As pharmacists undertake an enhanced role in the delivery of health care services, CPhA ensures that the profession is recognized as a national leader in health care, influencing the policies, programs, budgets and initiatives affecting the profession and the health of Canadians. 

For more information, please contact:

Tyler Gogo
Senior Manager, Communications
Canadian Pharmacists Association