Pharmacists get billing code to screen Albertans for COVID-19; asked to limit drug supplies

The Alberta government is asking pharmacists to help assess and screen people for COVID-19, but they won’t be testing for the virus at this time.

In a news release Thursday, the government said a new billing code was created for pharmacists to “help Albertans assess and screen for COVID-19.” They’re also asked to provide Albertans with information and advice about the novel coronavirus.

“We need to maximize the capabilities of our health professionals at this time,” Health Minister Tyler Shandro said.

“Pharmacists have knowledge and experience in infectious diseases such as influenza and in helping Albertans with their questions and concerns. This measure acknowledges pharmacists’ role in the health system and in supporting patients.”

The service is initially limited to screening and the provision of information about COVID-19.

However, the news release said Alberta Health and the Alberta Pharmacists’ Association will “remain in close collaboration on how to expand this role, should this be needed.

“This could include direct referral for COVID-19 testing and supporting Health Link 811 in addressing Albertans’ information needs,” the news release explained.

The head of the Alberta Pharmacists’ Association said her members were pleased by Alberta Health’s quick response to the pandemic and that it created a compensation structure to support the care pharmacists are providing.

“Pharmacists play an essential role in the management, assessment, and screening of patient health indicators and helping patients understand their COVID-19 risk is an important support for Albertans,” Margaret Wing said.

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