Sore throats are one of the most common complaints that patients have and many are prescribed antibiotics for suspected strep throat despite less than half of people actually having a bacterial infection. As pharmacists, we are the most accessible point of contact for patients with suspected strep throat to get tested and we can determine the appropriateness of antibiotic treatment. So, how effective is strep throat testing, and which pharmacies are implementing this practice?
According to a 2018 retrospective analysis by Papastergiou et al. involving 7,050 patients, only 25.5% of patients who were tested for strep throat at a Canadian community pharmacy had positive results for Group A Strep. Patients who tested negative were advised to not take antibiotics. Despite the $20 testing fee, 82% of the participants stated that they were satisfied with the service and indicated they would use it again if needed. This outcome highlights the impact of strep throat testing in not only reducing harm from unnecessary antibiotic use, but also increasing access to quality healthcare and patient satisfaction.
Current Scope of Practice in Canada
With that said, an important factor to consider when discussing strep throat testing –perhaps the biggest barrier–is scope of practice. Currently, there are only three provinces who have implemented this practice–Alberta, British Columbia, and Nova Scotia–in pharmacies. Furthermore, Alberta is the only province where pharmacists have prescribing rights in addition to testing for strep throat. This means that patients can be assessed, tested, and receive appropriate treatment all in one place. However, pharmacies all across Canada have already been performing countless rapid tests for COVID-19 for the past 3 years and are well-trusted by the public. In addition, with the ongoing expansion of pharmacist scope of practice, such as the implementation of minor ailments prescribing in several provinces, it is plausible that strep throat testing and prescribing may be added to more provinces in the near future.
Symptoms suggestive of strep throat:
If you have a patient presenting with the above symptoms, they may benefit from rapid strep throat testing! Rapid strep throat testing is quick and can be completed in 4 easy steps.
And with MedEssist’s new Strep Throat Testing feature, you can implement this service for your patients just as easily and seamlessly as your other services! When using MedEssist, patients can find all of your services such as strep throat testing on your digital storefront and book an appointment after completing our custom-built intake form. Our platform allows you to complete documentation, prescribe, and fax other healthcare providers–all in one place!
Still have questions? Talk to our Pharmacy Success team by clicking the yellow chat bubble in the bottom right-hand corner! ➡️