OPEN program

Improving the health of Ontarians through better medication management

OPEN ontario pharmacy research collaborationOPEN — the Ontario Pharmacy Research Collaboration — is a new multi-institutional and interdisciplinary research program that’s examining the quality, outcomes and value of medication management services that pharmacists and other healthcare professionals provide. OPEN is driven by and is responsive to its knowledge users — partner organizations that apply OPEN’s findings to improve pharmacy practice, the cost-effectiveness of services pharmacists provide, and the quality of healthcare in Ontario.

OPEN is led by co-Principal Investigators Dr. Nancy Waite, School of Pharmacy, University of Waterloo, and Dr. Lisa Dolovich, Department of Family Medicine, McMaster University, and includes interdisciplinary researchers from University of Waterloo’s School of Pharmacy, McMaster University’s Michael G. DeGroote School of Medicine, University of Toronto’s Leslie Dan Faculty of Pharmacy, Western University, and the Bruyère Research Institute, a partnership of Bruyère Continuing Care and the University of Ottawa.

OPEN is supported primarily by a $5.77 million grant from the government of Ontario.


Ontario has seen significant changes in its healthcare system, some of which have resulted in new and expanded roles and responsibilities for pharmacists, such as the introduction of the various MedsCheck and Pharmaceutical Opinion programs, to the recently expanded authority to administer influenza immunizations and to renew and adapt prescriptions.

The province has invested significantly in these new pharmacist services and may expand pharmacist scope of practice in the future. We need to know more about how effective current services are, if patients are making the best use of them, how they assist other healthcare providers deliver quality care and what new medication management services would benefit patients.

OPEN aims to answer these questions.


To provide a foundation for evaluation, OPEN researchers are developing a framework to assess the outcomes of services pharmacists provide.

They are evaluating the effectiveness of current services pharmacists provide to their patients.

• MedsCheck and Pharmaceutical Opinion programs

• Pharmacist renewal and adaptation of prescriptions

• Pharmacists as influenza immunizers

They are also piloting new pharmacist services and evaluating their uptake.

• Developing, implementing and evaluating “deprescribing” guidelines to reduce long-term drug use by the elderly

• Managing chronic pain by rural and urban community pharmacists

• Assessing the perspective of healthcare professionals on expanding pharmacist authority to prescribe for minor ailments

OPEN’s interdisciplinary research on these current and emerging services will provide insight into how the roles and responsibilities of pharmacists can be expanded as well as gauge their acceptance by patients and the broader healthcare community.

Cross-cutting program themes

OPEN’s research projects are conducted in tandem with program-wide activities across three themes —

• Knowledge translation and exchange

• Capacity building

• Gender and vulnerable populations

OPEN’s research projects and their leads

• Pharmacist services evaluation framework — Lisa Dolovich

• MedsCheck and Pharmaceutical Opinion — Linda MacKeigan and Lisa Dolovich

• Renewal and adaptation of prescriptions — Lisa McCarthy

• Pharmacists as immunizers — Eric Schneider and Nancy Waite

• Deprescribing guidelines for the elderly — Barbara Farrell and James Conklin

• Chronic pain management in rural and urban communities — Feng Chang, Tejal Patel and Beth Sproule

• Pharmacists prescribing for minor ailments — Lisa McCarthy and Nancy Waite

OPEN’s cross-cutting themes and their leads

• Knowledge translation and exchange — Kelly Grindrod and James Conklin

• Capacity building — Nancy Waite and Beth Sproule

• Gender and vulnerable populations — Martin Cooke and Nancy Waite

Applied health research questions

Applied health research questions or AHRQs provide data, analyses and knowledge to build a strong, evidence-based foundation for innovation and decision-making with respect to current and emerging professional services Ontario’s pharmacists provide to their patients.

Knowledge users

OPEN’s research will increase Ontario’s health services research capacity by training undergraduate and graduate students as well as researchers. Importantly, OPEN brings students together with knowledge users — the decision-makers who use evidence to inform policy and ultimately to deliver more effective healthcare.

OPEN has five primary knowledge users, each of which is a full partner in our research program and has assisted in prioritizing projects and identifying vulnerable populations.

• Ministry of Health and Long-Term Care

• Ontario College of Pharmacists

• Ontario Pharmacists Association

• Ontario College of Family Physicians

• Canadian Society of Hospital Pharmacists, Ontario Branch