How Pharmacists Are Easing Healthcare Pressures in Surrey - Part 2

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New horizons in healthcare strategy

In the face of mounting pressures on BC’s healthcare system, the province is pioneering fresh strategies to make things better. 

One notable shift is the move towards team-based healthcare. This means redistributing work to other healthcare professionals (for example, nurse practitioners) that would normally be fulfilled by doctors. 

Pharmacists are another important piece of the puzzle. As of June 1, 2023, they have received the green light to prescribe meds for everyday health problems, including pink eye and headaches. This list is set to grow.  

BC is following a long list of other successful implementations across Canada. For example, Alberta has allowed pharmacists to provide prescriptions for several minor aliments since 2007. Nova Scotia did this as well in 2010, and in 2018 expanded the program to implement a team-based healthcare approach where residents have access to a variety of health professionals, such as nurses, social workers, dietitians, physiotherapists, and mental health professionals, who can collaborate on health issues while easing pressure on family doctors. These programs have been well-received across Canada.  

“Pharmacists across the province are ready to take on this expansion of their scope of practice,” says Suzanne Solven, Registrar and CEO of the College of Pharmacists of British Columbia.  

New regulations and standards of practice that are now in place will ensure that the public has increased access to safe and professional prescribing services.

Suzanne Solven

The growing role of pharmacists in BC

Historically, pharmacists have been an underutilized resource in Canada. According to the Canadian Pharmacists Association, “Canada's pharmacists are doing more for their patients than ever before, but they continue to be an underutilized health-care resource in many parts of Canada.” 

Pharmacists aren't just the friendly faces that hand over medication. They are bound by the same ethics and confidentiality rules as a family doctor or nurse practitioner. In addition to specialized training, they need to complete before they are allowed to offer these services, they also have access to Ministry-funded medSask resource, a software tool made to assist pharmacists in decision-making when assessing for minor ailments. The resource is free for all licensed pharmacists and pharmacy students registered with the College of Pharmacists of BC. 

Eventually, these services could be expanded to include ordering and interpreting lab tests, injection authority for certain drugs and vaccines, and the ability to adapt or manage drug dosage, formulation, among others as is done in some other provinces.  

Currently, there are 21 conditions that pharmacists in BC can now prescribe medication for, including:   

  • Allergies (allergic rhinitis
  • Cold sores
  • Fungal infections
  • Heartburn (acid reflux)
  • Hemorrhoids
  • Headaches
  • Menstrual pain
  • Mild acne
  • Nicotine dependence

…And many others. Eligible conditions present a low risk of concealing underlying diseases, can be diagnosed without lab tests, and are expected to improve with short-term care. 

Unlocking opportunities in Surrey's healthcare sector

When it comes to healthcare access, Surrey stands at a crossroads. With over 400 dedicated family doctors and 150 pharmacies currently serving Surrey and its neighbouring communities, it might appear that we have ample medical resources at our disposal. However, when we delve into the numbers and compare them to other municipalities in our region, a different picture emerges. 

Based on Fraser Health data from 2022, each family doctor in Surrey is shouldering the responsibility of serving approximately 4,500 patients. This workload is nearly double that of their counterparts in Vancouver. While this statistic might seem daunting, it also presents a significant opportunity for those considering entering or expanding their medical businesses in Surrey. 

The demand for healthcare services is on the rise, and it's only poised to grow further as our population continues to expand. Areas like Fleetwood, Guildford, Cloverdale, and Newton offer promising prospects for budding medical service entrepreneurs.  

In our upcoming articles, we will delve into the reasons why Surrey is the ideal location for aspiring pharmacists to establish their practices. If you're interested in opening a pharmacy in Surrey, please don't hesitate to reach out to us at for more information and guidance. 

Previously, we highlighted the recent healthcare infrastructure investments and significant initiatives undertaken by our local universities to expand their offerings in the healthcare sector. But another factor that truly sets Surrey apart is our Health and Technology District.  Here, medical professionals, like pharmacists, collaborate on cutting-edge technologies that enhance health outcomes, improve patient experiences, and optimize the economics of healthcare delivery worldwide. The next phase of development is already underway, which will add over 350k SF of AAA commercial and retail space adjacent to one of Canada’s busiest hospitals. A perfect place for a budding healthcare business. 

These innovative features, combined with Surrey's access to a highly skilled workforce, have attracted a growing number of healthtech companies to call Surrey their home. To gain deeper insights into this thriving sector and explore examples of our fantastic homegrown companies, we invite you to continue reading here. Surrey is on the cusp of a healthcare revolution, and there's never been a better time to invest in its burgeoning medical industry. Stay tuned for more in-depth information and exciting developments on Surrey's healthcare landscape in our future articles. Together, we can build a healthier and more prosperous future for our community.

In conclusion

For the broader healthcare landscape in BC, enhanced prescribing power for pharmacists means increased efficiency, streamlined administrative processes, and fewer ER visits for non-emergencies. And this is only the beginning. Unsurprisingly, the early outcomes of this shift are positive. With a reported 120% surge in prescriptions since the policy announcement, it is clear that BC residents are eager to take advantage of this change.  

While pharmacies alone are not enough to address chronic healthcare pressures, they undeniably form part of the solution. Another key factor being emerging technologies that help professionals provide better outcomes with fewer resources, many of such advancements are being made here in Surrey.  

Stay tuned for the final article on why pharmacists should invest in Surrey.