Jennifer Barrett is the senior editor for Drug Topics® and Total Pharmacy®.
A recent analysis illustrated the important role of community pharmacists in preventive services and chronic care based on frequency of patient encounters.
A new study published in JAMA Network Open underscores the value of pharmacists in improving patients’ access to preventive services and chronic care management, particularly in rural communities.1
Because of their accessibility, community pharmacists are well positioned to deliver patient-centered services involving preventive care and chronic disease management, serving as important centerpieces of the multidisciplinary health care team.
For the study, the investigators compared the number of patient visits to community pharmacies and the number of encounter with primary care physicians among Medicare beneficiaries who actively access health care services.1
A total of 681,456 patients were included in the analysis: 82.2% were white, 9.6% were Black, 2.4% were Hispanic, and 5.7% were other races/ethnicities. According to the results, the number of pharmacy visits significantly outnumbered primary care physician encounters for all subgroups evaluated except for those with acute myocardial infarction. This difference was larger in rural areas than in metropolitan areas, according to the study.1
The investigators noted the importance of facilitating further practice change and transformation to allow pharmacists to capitalize on accessible and frequent encounters at the pharmacy.1
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“To further capitalize on the uniqueness on the pharmacist as an accessible health care professional, pharmacy and health care organizations must consider how community pharmacy practice will adapt to transformed pharmacist roles, including changes to business models, workflows, and staffing,” the investigators wrote.1
The National Association of Chain Drug Stores (NACDS) lauded the analysis for demonstrating the important role of pharmacies and pharmacies in delivering patient-centered services.2
“Pharmacists are not only highly educated and widely trusted health professionals, but they are also well placed to provide patient-centered services in underserved and rural areas across the country,” said NACDS President and CEO Steven C. Anderson in a statement.2 “Pharmacies exist within 5 miles of 90% of all Americans, and the accessibility of these health destinations is not only critical to improving chronic health outcomes and serving patients who otherwise would not be reached, but is also essential to the health of the nation as we continue to address the COVID-19 pandemic. The information and evidence presented by these healthcare experts reinforces the importance of community pharmacy’s collaborative relationship with physicians and other health care professionals to help keep patients healthy.”
1. Berenbrok LA, Gabriel N, Coley KC, et al. Evaluation of frequency of encounters with primary care physicians vs visits to community pharmacies among Medicare beneficiaries. JAMA Network Open. 2020. doi:10.1001/jamanetworkopen.2020.9132
2. NACDS Hails Journal of the American Medical Association Article Showing Pharmacists’ Critical Role in Patient-Centered Services. News Release. NACDS; July 27, 2020. Accessed July 28, 2020. https://www.nacds.org/news/nacds-hails-journal-of-the-american-medical-association-article-showing-pharmacists-critical-role-in-patient-centered-services/