Pharmacists in Primary Care Network (PCN) Program at UBC Marks a Transformative Journey in Healthcare

The Pharmacists in Primary Care Network (PCN) Program, an innovative initiative launched in October 2020 by the Faculty of Pharmaceutical Sciences at the University of British Columbia (UBC), is celebrating its significant contributions to providing primary healthcare to British Columbians as it concludes its three-year implementation term. The Program was designed to integrate Primary Care Clinical Pharmacists (PCCPs) into PCNs across British Columbia. Additionally, it has mobilized and connected existing pharmacists within PCN communities to enable and support shared patient care.

This pioneering initiative was set in motion with a clear objective to integrate and optimize the pharmacists clinical expertise into the delivery of team-based primary care to all British Columbians. The Ministry of Health, in alignment with its primary health-care strategy, approved up to 50 new clinical pharmacists to be integrated into PCN teams throughout the province. The program received crucial support from the Ministry, with an investment of $23 million over three years, and was developed in collaboration with the Faculty. This was a vital program to address the unmet needs and gaps in primary care for patients dealing with complex health conditions.

The team-based PCCPs worked directly other interprofessional team members to reduce and manage medication-related problems in patients with complex medical conditions.  By integrating clinical pharmacists into patients' primary-care teams, positive health outcomes can be realized through the optimization of medications to improve therapeutic outcomes and reduce the risk of adverse drug events that are common among patients with complex medical conditions on multiple medications. Over the three years of the program, PCCPs have be involved in almost 25,000 patient encounters over the implementation period.

As the implementation of the Program is now concluded, a transition plan led by the Ministry of Health has been completed with central oversight now provided by the Provincial Health Services Authority working closely with regional health authorities and PCNs. This transition aims to ensure that the implementation and positive momentum generated through the incorporation of pharmacists into the PCNs continues to benefit patients and support the delivery of timely primary care in British Columbia.

Dr. Larry D. Lynd, professor and dean pro tem of the Faculty of Pharmaceutical Sciences at UBC, expressed his sentiments regarding the program's success. "The PCN Program has been a very important initiative for our Faculty. It represents a significant achievement in the innovation of pharmacy practice and interprofessional delivery of primary care and BC, and will without doubt improve the care patients receive and the associated positive health outcomes. We extend our gratitude to the Ministry of Health, all our program partners, pharmacists, clinicians, and staff who made this program possible."

While the program implementation has concluded, the evaluation of the impact of it on patients and the health care system is actively moving forward. The results of this evaluation will provide invaluable insights into the future potential of integrating clinical pharmacists into primary care networks, ultimately benefiting the health and well-being of the residents of BC and beyond.