Pharmacists have a clear and important role to play in health management and healthcare delivery in our province. For example, when we look at high blood pressure – a condition which impacts over 522,000 individuals across Alberta – we can clearly see the ways in which early and regular pharmacist involvement in care leads to better use of resources and improved health outcomes. The figure above translates into roughly one in four adult Albertans suffering from high blood pressure at any one time. Ongoing research suggests that by 2030, these numbers will have increased by at least 7 per cent, or roughly one in three Albertans.
The costs of high blood pressureHigh blood pressure causes a number of other secondary conditions, each of which has its own burden on the healthcare system. From kidney failure to dementia, the impacts of high blood pressure are far reaching and costly. Put another way, approximately 10 per cent of Canada’s healthcare funding is used to deal with high blood pressure and its related conditions. These related conditions can be prevented, but the underlying high blood pressure must be addressed.
The role of pharmacistsWhen dealing with a health condition like high blood pressure, regular and ongoing medical care is required. Truly addressing the condition requires diligent monitoring of diet, exercise and other medications, and the expectation that the patient is aware of how these factors interact to influence health. Pharmacists often do and are able to deliver this information to patients in a way that is convenient and accessible. Research shows that it is this one-to-one patient counselling that is extremely effective when it comes to managing and changing patient behaviors in the best interest of their health.
For most people, it’s easier to find the time to stop by a pharmacy for health advice than it is to make it into a doctor’s office.
Overall savingsWhen pharmacists are able to assess, prescribe and change medications, and make other interventions as permitted by the expanded scope of services, they are able to improve healthcare resources and redirect the time and energies of more acute care centres. Learn more about what exactly a pharmacist can do.
As cardiovascular conditions, including high blood pressure, loom on the horizon as one of our aging population’s biggest healthcare expenses, it’s important to note the savings that occur when pharmacists are involved: according to one study, individuals with this condition who receive ongoing guidance from a pharmacist would save the province’s healthcare system over $6,500 in their lifetime.
Ultimately, with early and regular pharmacist intervention in the day-to-day care of individuals with high blood pressure, there is an opportunity to:
- Extend the life expectancy of individuals suffering from high blood pressure
- Reduce the overall cost of treatment burden on the healthcare system for each individual
- Reduce the occurrence of related conditions, and the subsequent costs of these conditions to the healthcare system
- Improve the quality of life and sense of ownership over health outcomes for individuals with high blood pressure