It’s been just shy of a month since pharmacists were given the green light to prescribe treatments for 21 common ailments in B.C. – and new data is shedding light on how popular this move has been across the province.
Data from Medimap shows an 18-per-cent increase in web searches for the common ailments
As of June 1, B.C. pharmacists were given the ability to prescribe treatments for several common infections, acne and allergies.
Medimap is an online service where users select the type of care they’re seeking and their location, and are then given a list of healthcare professionals or clinics near them. Medimap also provides pharmacies that can offer treatments to those who initially search for a walk-in clinic, with the hopes of mitigating clinic traffic and lessening the burden on the province’s healthcare system.
“It’s a one stop shop for a primary care marketplace where patients can go based on symptoms,” said Michel Gaudette, the vice-president of partnerships and business development at Medimap.
According to Medimap’s 2022 data on clinic wait times, the average wait time for walk-in patients in B.C. was 79 minutes, more than double the national average at the time.
“Now the patient has a choice: you can either go wait three hours at the walk-in clinic or go to a pharmacy,” Gaudette said.
“We’re starting to provide additional awareness messages. If someone is looking for a walk-in clinic in their neighbourhood and either it’s unavailable or the wait time is long, there’s a pop up that says ‘did you know pharmacists can treat for minor ailments?’”
Gaudette said Medimap is also working closely with the B.C. government, and that the 811 HealthLinkBC toll-free number will refer callers to the website for care options.
“In B.C. specifically, we’re trying to go up to the table and work with the government hand in hand. I’ve proven to them that we’re getting more traffic than their pages on the programs that are released,” he said.
Medimap is also running a pilot project in Winnipeg in partnership with the local health authority, posting walk-in clinic wait times in hospital vicinities for non-emergent patients to have information of alternate care with less wait times.
“It’s the different features and services and things we see that can contribute in reducing the burden. Not by taking from the healthcare system, but by really taking advantage of the capacity that exists in the system today with no visibility to it.”