Yatin Patel is ARTA’s Director of Pharmacy Services, and he has been working hard to build ARTARx over the last several months. He has worked as a pharmacist for seventeen years, after earning degrees in pharmacology and pharmacy from the University of Alberta. We asked Yatin a few questions about what being a pharmacist means to him and why he’s excited to join the team as ARTA’s Director of Pharmacy Services.

Why did you want to become a pharmacist?

After my pharmacology degree, I discovered that I wanted to have a little more social interaction in my work. I enjoy working with people, helping them achieve their health goals. The highlights of my career are the relationships I’ve built with patients.

What is the role of a pharmacist, in your opinion?

Grappling with a new diagnosis and the ongoing management of chronic conditions are journeys with physical, emotional, and financial considerations. Pharmacists are in a unique position to support their patient’s decision-making with evidence-based information. That can mean supporting a patient’s lifestyle modification, collaborating with other health professionals on behalf of patients, or assisting with insurance coverage for medication. In my practice I’ve tried to be an accessible advocate and provide the best evidence-based clinical information possible to support my patient’s decisions.

Why is it important for a patient to understand their medications?

One of the biggest challenges in medicine is adherence — getting people to understand why they’re taking their medications. One of the best ways to improve adherence is to create a meaningful understanding of the medication itself. Instead of a patient saying, “I’m taking this pill because my doctor told me to,” we want patients to say, “I’m taking this pill because it will reduce my blood pressure and improve my life in the following ways.” Health outcomes tend to improve when understanding improves.

What has been the most exciting part of building ARTARx?

The idea of a health benefit plan owning its own pharmacy is so unique, and there are many opportunities to provide relevant pharmacy services to individuals who might be underserved in that aspect of their health care. In a typical corporate pharmacy, most of the floor space is allocated to products in order to push sales. You might get a room the size of a closet for private consults. But with ARTARx, we’re able to dedicate the space and offer an approach that prioritizes patient wellbeing, whether in-person or virtually. It’s something that excites me, and something that members will see a lot of benefit in.