Practice: Creating a space of best-practice patient care

Established in 2013, the UBC Pharmacists Clinic comprises a core function of the Faculty’s Practice Innovation portfolio. At the Clinic, expert pharmacists provide patients with the highest possible standard of health consultation services. Although licensed as a community pharmacy, the Clinic operates like a specialty clinic, serving patients who need more time than available under a traditional service model.

From day one, the UBC Pharmacists Clinic was established in line with a threefold mandate: to create a space of best-practice patient care, a site for learners to receive skill development opportunities, and to establish a living lab to develop systems and processes for patient care.

However, the road to establishing Canada's first university-affiliated, licensed, pharmacist-led patient care clinic was not without challenges. For Clinic director Barbara Gobis, the biggest challenge lay in consistently turning down opportunities that did not align with the Clinic’s specific mandate.

“Despite receiving many opportunities that were extremely tempting, we had to say no to any initiative that did not also help us achieve our mandate,” Gobis says. “It was really hard to disappoint people who had their own hopes and ideas for what the Clinic could do. We love great ideas and bringing them to life. For us, there are no bad ideas, just bad timing, and we had to exercise a lot of self-discipline. To this day we use a variety of strategic and program management tactics to stay on task.”

In 2019 the UBC Pharmacists Clinic team received the B.C. Patient Safety and Quality Council Quality Award - Living with Illness or Disability in recognition of outstanding contributions to the care of people living with health issues.  

The Clinic took on a leadership role in the Pharmacists in Primary Care Networks (PCN) Program in October 2020, meaning that more complex patients can have access to clinical care from a pharmacist in B.C.

This fall, the Clinic achieved the milestone of 20,000 patient care visits. This milestone is even more remarkable given that all patient care at the Clinic has been provided virtually since March 2020.

Today, the UBC Pharmacists Clinic is supported by a team of 12 dedicated staff and clinicians working together on projects that support their overarching goal of best-practice patient care.

These include an ongoing and close partnership with the First Nations Health Authority (FNHA). “We are honoured to work with FNHA to provide services that meet the self-expressed needs of First Nations communities for clinical pharmacy services,” says Gobis. “Currently we are integrating pharmacists in existing and new FNHA virtual care programs as well as preparing cultural safety training programs of unique relevance to pharmacists and pharmacy team members.”

The Clinic also continues to be a test site for informatics initiatives that will improve pharmacist access to health information necessary for patient care. This has included securing pharmacist access to CareConnect via secure web portal, ultimately allowing for all B.C. pharmacies to register. Presently, members of the Clinic are testing the Clinical Data Exchange which will enable information to be requested and shared directly between different electronic medical record systems.

Gobis is quick to highlight that the growth, evolution, and many achievements of the UBC Pharmacists Clinic were made possible by the tireless efforts of staff and faculty across UBC.

“Our team has had ongoing support from UBC IT, risk management, operations, facilities, administration, legal, privacy and security experts to build and grow over the years,” she says. “Over 86 people were involved in the development of the Clinic back in 2013. I cannot imagine any other setting where a clinic like ours would be so successful, or even viable. I’m extremely grateful for the courageous people on the Clinic team who have worked with heart and passion to get our Clinic to where it is today.”

To learn more about the UBC Pharmacists Clinic, click here.

Images (from top): Entrance to the UBC Pharmacists Clinic; Clinical pharmacist and lecturer, Jamie Yuen; Inside a room equipped for patient care at the UBC Pharmacists Clinic; Clinical pharmacist and lecturer, Adrian Ziemczonek; director of the UBC Pharmacists Clinic, Barbara Gobis.