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A drug access facilitator hands over medication in a pharmacy
November 27, 2017

Introducing… a non-oncology drug access facilitator

Lauren Arsenault is a drug access facilitator for patients that use intravenous (IV) iron therapy medication. She’s been with Hamilton Health Sciences (HHS) for one year and will soon serve patients primarily at McMaster University Medical Centre.

What do you love most about your role?

I love being an advocate for the patient. The intricate world of medication access in Ontario is not an easy one to navigate. To relieve the burden and stress of having patients do it all themselves is quite gratifying. I also enjoy finding ways for patients to lessen their financial burden by making them aware of other options. Anyone who does this job will tell you they would never do anything else.

What do you find challenging?

The biggest challenge occurs when I try to explain to a patient that even though they have a plan that covers their medications, they still might not be covered for all the medications they require. It’s a challenge because the perception is you see a doctor and get a prescription, then go to the pharmacy with your coverage plan to get your medication. Unfortunately, this is not the case for all medications. Finding coverage for medication can be complex, but we are always happy to help bring some clarity and understanding.

Describe a typical day

A typical day could include several different tasks. I meet with and call patients, review Trillium Drug Plan applications, coordinate with healthcare workers, reorder medications for patients, work with patient advocacy groups, facilitate private insurance coverage, talk to drug manufacturers, follow up with patient assistance programs and submit exceptional access requests. Every day is a new day, and our role covers multiple areas.

Finding coverage for medication can be complex, but we are always happy to help bring some clarity and understanding.

Tell us about your most gratifying experience at HHS

We are heavily involved with our patients and there are many cases that resonate with me. Generally, the most gratifying experience is when a patient simply says ‘thank you’. We usually get kind words of gratitude from our patients, and we always like to remind them we’re only doing our job. We help navigate and facilitate a complex area of healthcare. It is a good feeling to know you can make a difference in people’s lives.

What’s one thing people would be surprised to learn about your role?

We are part of an organization called the Oncology Drug Access Navigators of Ontario (ODANO), which gives us instant access to all members through email. We help each other through tough situations when we have issues with drug coverage for our patients. ODANO links its members to over 100 healthcare workers who do this job at facilities across Ontario. It is a fantastic resource for everyone to collaborate. It is also a fast growing field, and we are quickly learning Ontario is not the only province in need of this profession. There are many facilitators working across Canada.


For more information, visit our Pharmacy Services page or contact the Drug Access Facilitator at 905-521-2100 ext. 64223 for any questions.