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StFX Announces Partnership With The Patient Safety Company Canada

An innovative research project to help enhance patient safety in community pharmacies has taken a big leap forward with the signing of a license agreement between St. Francis Xavier University and The Patient Safety Company Canada. Neil Ritchie, the CEO of The Patient Safety Company, was at StFX on Friday, July 6 to sign a license agreement with the team behind SafetyNET-Rx, the first pharmacy-tailored standardized continuous quality improvement, or CQI, program of its kind in Canada.

SafetyNET-Rx is an innovating CQI program designed to enhance medication error and near miss reporting and learning in community pharmacies. SafetyNET-Rx combines a common CQI process across pharmacies with the latest in web-based systems to provide pharmacy staff with the support (e.g., processes, training, and technology) needed to identify, report, and learn from medication errors and communicate such information to other pharmacies.

Under terms of the license agreement, the Halifax-based The Patient Safety Company Canada will market a significantly revised version of the SafetyNET-Rx program to pharmacies throughout Canada and the United States and leverage its global partnership network in 18 other countries worldwide for global distribution.

“We’re delighted to be part of this new initiative. We can use the knowledge from university research and the program’s local partnerships to benefit community pharmacies and their patients across Canada and beyond. It is an example of Maritime innovation leading the way,” Mr. Ritchie said.

StFX Acting President, Academic Vice-President and Provost, Dr. Mary McGillivray and Neil Ritchie, CEO, The Patient Safety Company Canada, sign the license agreement. Principal researcher Dr. Todd Boyle along with Dr. McGillivray and Mr. Ritchie at the signing.

“Evidence suggests that significant reductions in medication errors and near misses can occur by implementing tools that enable pharmacy staff to better report, discuss, and communicate errors in an open and blame-free environment,” says principal researcher and StFX associate professor and Canada Research Chair, Dr. Todd Boyle.

“Our SafetyNET-Rx program is a turn-key solution for pharmacies, helping them to achieve such outcomes.”

The initiative to develop a standardized continuous quality improvement program for community pharmacies was that of the provincial pharmacy regulator, the Nova Scotia College of Pharmacists. The intent was to ensure that all pharmacies had an effective process for learning how to improve the quality and safety of the services they provided by reflecting on their practice and by analyzing any errors, and for communicating these “learnings” across the profession. The SafetyNET-Rx product is the result of over 80 community pharmacies that agreed to work with the SafetyNET-Rx team to develop a process that “fit” the real practice environment of a community pharmacy.

The SafetyNET-Rx team is comprised of students and researchers from St. Francis Xavier University (Todd Boyle, Tom Mahaffey), Dalhousie University (Heidi Deal, Kellie Duggan, Andrea Scobie), University of Arizona (Neil MacKinnon), as well as The Nova Scotia College of Pharmacists (Bev Zwicker) and various non-profit organizations. Since 2008, the team has been awarded over ½ million dollars in funding from agencies such as the Canadian Foundation for Pharmacy, Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada, Canadian Institutes of Health Research, Innovacorp, and Springboard to develop the SafetyNET-Rx product.

“This is a great example of a community-academic-business partnership research project, where students and faculty can see their academic research successes in turn support business and lead to an overall benefit to the pharmacy community and increased patient safety,” says Andrew Kendall, manager of StFX’s Industry Liaison and Knowledge Transfer Office. He has been working with Dr. Boyle to advance commercial development of the product and find a business partner to commercialize SafetyNET-Rx.

Mr. Ritchie, a Maritimer who characterizes himself as a “social entrepreneur” has had a progressive career as a senior executive in both public and private sector health-related organizations playing key roles in introducing new technologies and innovative programs to improve health and health systems. He has been working with the research team to integrate SafetyNET-Rx into The Patient Safety Company’s cloud computing technology platform and product suite and will be leading the global sales and marketing strategy. “Our technology helps address the two great challenges in health care today – reducing costs and improving care,” he said.