Community Pharmacists Serve an Important Role
In honor of American Pharmacists Month, we would like to show our appreciation for community pharmacists and the special value they provide each day. While the challenges independent pharmacies face increase, so does their importance in our American communities.
The following discussion includes four ways in which independent pharmacists provide a significant benefit to our healthcare system.
Community pharmacists serve tremendous value to their patients and their patients’ physicians by assisting with drug compliance. Pharmacists can help their patients better adhere to their medication regimens by providing greater information on their prescriptions and known side effects, by implementing unique medication packaging, by having their doctors use electronic scripts, and by providing services such as compounding and prescription delivery.
Another way to enhance patient compliance is by implementing a prescription synchronization system, such as SyncRx. Developed by an independent pharmacy owner, Jason Turner, SyncRx places patients who take regular medications, such as diabetic patients and those suffering from heart disease, on a synchronized schedule for prescription refills. A monthly schedule provides convenience to patients and streamlines the pharmacy schedule and is proven to improve patient outcomes.
Drug compliance is a crucial component of treatment and therefore, pharmacists can plan a pivotal role in the health of their patients.
Health and Wellness
With a growing desire for health and wellness products and services, community pharmacists are in a unique position to be seen as local wellness experts. Peter J. Larkin, president and CEO of the National Grocers Association, has some interesting points about expanding the role of community pharmacists in the retail grocery setting.
In an article published by Larkin in April 2016, he cites a recent Accenture report that forecasts that the consumer healthcare market will grow by almost 50 percent to $737 billion over the next five years. “The trend to a healthier lifestyle, along with an aging population, has prompted retailers to expand their health and wellness offerings and in-store programs,” he states.
Larkin continues by discussing a recent consumer trends study, conducted on behalf of the National Grocers Association by Nielsen, that shows that nearly half of respondents who primarily shop at an independent supermarket reported a there was a pharmacy within the store. “This reinforces a broader retailing fact-of-life: today’s full-service supermarket is thought of as not just a store, but also as a community resource for food, prescriptions and much more,” says Larkin.
“While supermarkets of all sizes are trying to capitalize on the health and wellness uptick, independent supermarket operators are in a unique position to make the most of this movement through the relationships they have already created with local health care specialists, including community pharmacists.”
According to Larkin, about one-third of the nation’s retail prescription medications are dispensed by community pharmacies, of which approximately 8,000 are in grocery stores.
“Similar to independent supermarket operators, with their strong community roots and deep understanding of what their customers want, community pharmacists are able to provide traditional and expanded pharmacy services to meet the desires and expectations of current and potential patients”.
The Association of American Medical Colleges projects that by 2020, there will be more than 91,000 fewer doctors than needed to meet demands for patient care. Pharmacists can provide greater access to care for patients in rural or medically underserved areas.
“Enabling pharmacists to more fully utilize their education, training and expertise, and be more integrated into the patient’s health care team will also improve health outcomes and greatly benefit specific populations with chronic disease; including those with diabetes and cardiovascular disease,” according to NCPA.
“Small, independent community pharmacies are often located in rural or highly-urban areas, where larger, chain stores might not be as willing to locate,” according to NCPA. “Community pharmacists can play a continually increasing and integral role in bringing access to care to those areas of the country, and beneficiaries, who need it most.”
Community Pharmacists provide an increasingly important role for cancer patients and the oncology physicians who treat them.
In an interview with Pharmacy Today, Community Pharmacist Jennifer Riss, PharmD, and Pharmacy Manager at Cub Pharmacy near Minneapolis, understands how difficult it is for many patients with cancer to understand their often-complex medication regimens. “Patients often go from never having taken medication to requiring several,” she said. “I make sure the patient ultimately understands the medication regimen and knows what to expect in terms of side effects and how drugs interact. The more the patient knows, the more empowered and more successful they will be in taking their medications.”
Riss knows that even though patients may have received instructions about their medications at the clinic or hospital, she believes it is important for the community pharmacist to reaffirm those instructions. “Many of these patients are overwhelmed; we should not assume they’ve received the information before their pharmacy visit,” explained Riss.
In conclusion, Trxade commends our independent pharmacists and pharmacy owners for all that they do to improve the health and lives of their patients. Because of their expertise and commitment to quality care, the entire American healthcare system benefits.