Nearly half the United States (U.S.) population takes prescriptions drugs, which means that pharmacists are an integral part of health care delivery. With nearly 3,000 community pharmacies in New York City, the community pharmacist may be the last checkpoint before a patient takes their medication and therefore, is uniquely positioned to support patient-centered care that complements services provided in the clinical environment.
Health care providers can rely on community pharmacists to help patients adhere to medication regimens. Medication adherence, or taking medications as prescribed, can impact patient outcomes and health care costs. Adherence rates of 80 percent or higher are typically needed for optimal therapeutic efficacy, however, adherence to chronic medications is estimated to be about 50 percent.1, 2 In the U.S., up to 50 percent of treatment failures, about 125,000 deaths, and at least 10 percent of hospitalizations each year can be attributed to nonadherence.3,4
Pharmacists assess medication adherence and can offer advice and support to overcome barriers to adherence. Pharmacists may suggest services such as free delivery, text reminders, automatic refills, and medication synchronization that allows patients to pick up their medications on the same day each month.
Pharmacists are also able to provide medication therapy management (MTM), a service aimed at helping patients enhance medication adherence and optimize medication therapy.
“The collaborative model of clinical pharmacists working with health care providers has proven to be associated with significant improvements in patients’ medication-related health outcomes and a reduction in hospitalizations. The providers and pharmacists at our facility work as a team to develop, implement, and monitor patient-centered treatment plans, which are evidence based and cost effective.”
Community pharmacists are dedicated to patient education. According to the U.S. Census, over 25 million people in the U.S. have limited English proficiency (LEP),5 which means communicating effectively with LEP patients has become central to the provision of quality care in the U.S. Errors in communication are among the root causes of 59 percent of serious adverse events, and language barriers between health care providers and LEP patients can exacerbate these errors and lead to higher prevalence of adverse events among LEP patients.6
Pharmacists provide written and verbal counseling with each prescription, and may offer language services in the most commonly spoken languages in a particular neighborhood. Pharmacists also have the ability to print prescription labels in a patient’s preferred language.
Pharmacists serve as a complement to clinical care for chronic conditions such as hypertension. Hypertension accounts for an estimated 25 to 50 percent of cardiovascular disease deaths in the United States.7 In 2015, 29 percent of New Yorkers – about 1,847,000 adults – reported having hypertension.8 Out-of-office blood pressure monitoring can help patients with hypertension manage their condition. Patients can visit their neighborhood pharmacy between routine clinical care visits to check their blood pressure. Many pharmacies offer free blood pressure monitoring.
The NYC HealthMap, a free online tool, can be used to locate pharmacies that offer free blood pressure checks with either a self-service kiosk or assistance from a pharmacist.
If you would like to learn more about how your patients can benefit from pharmacy services, contact firstname.lastname@example.org. NYC REACH provides technical assistance to independent pharmacies throughout the city and can show your practice how to take advantage of their services.
This article appeared in the Fall 2019 NYC REACH Newsletter