Here are the top 10 ways Cincinnati pharmacists are helping the local community:
- Working in charitable and non-profit pharmacies and homeless clinics to help patients who lack health care. Pharmacists are going above and beyond their rolesto help fill a need for the many patients who lack health care access. Cincinnati area pharmacists serve these populations by working at charitable and non-profit pharmacies and clinics including: Vincent de Paul Charitable Pharmacy and Faith Community Pharmacy (which offer free medication), Community First, Pharmacy OTR and Cincinnati Health Department Primary Care Clinics. The City of Cincinnati runs seven of these clinics located in diverse, medically underserved neighborhoods. These clinics offer adult and pediatric primary care, dental, laboratory and pharmacy services. Those without insurance can be seen by providers for a reduced cost, and can have their medications filled at lower prices. The Elm Street pharmacy provides services to those seen by the homeless clinic program run by the health department.
- Preparing you for cold and flu season. Pharmacists can talk you through which over-the-counter drugs will best combat your cold or flu symptoms as well as provide flu shots. To help treat the common cold, the pharmacist can recommend products available without a prescription to help ease your cold symptoms while also checking to make sure they don’t interact with any medications you currently take. They can also help keep you healthy by administering vaccinations, including the flu shot. During the 2016-2017 flu season, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reported over 6,800 hospitalizations due to the flu with 60 percent of those in persons aged 65 and older. You can even infect someone 24 hours before you have flu symptoms, so protect your loved ones now by talking to your pharmacist about what vaccinations you need to stay healthy.
- Battling the opioid epidemic. The nation’s opioid epidemic has hit Ohio particularly hard. As the medication experts on a patient’s health care team, pharmacists are on the frontlines, playing an important role in preventing prescription drug misuse and abuse. Pharmacists are educating patients and providers on new state laws that change the amount of pain medicine a physician can prescribe for acute pain. They are also working with patients to find alternative ways to manage pain, including heat and ice, over-the-counter medications and suggesting that patients seek care from other health care specialists such as physical therapists. Pharmacists also double-check all prescriptions for safety, and look for signs that may indicate someone is at risk of abuse. In Ohio, the prescription monitoring system Ohio Automated RX Reporting System (OARRS), is used to check each prescription to ensure patients are not filling similar prescriptions in multiple locations.
- Medication Therapy Management (MTM). For patients on multiple medications, like seniors or those with chronic diseases, MTM provides a comprehensive overview of all medications a patient is taking. The pharmacist will review each medication to be sure it is right for you, and can answer any questions you have. This usually only takes about 15 to 30 minutes of your time. Ask your pharmacist if this benefit is covered by your insurance plan.
- Chronic disease management. Forty-five percent of Americans have at least one chronic condition. Community-based pharmacists can help you manage your medications and suggest lifestyle changes needed to gain control over diseases such as diabetes, asthma, high blood pressure and high cholesterol. For example, here in Cincinnati there are diabetes management programs that allow engaged patients to participate without a co-pay. Ask your pharmacist today what services they offer.
- Disease education, prevention and wellness services. Besides helping you while you’re sick, your pharmacist can also help with your overall health to keep you well. They can provide information on wellness topics such as exercise, smoking cessation, stress management and general diet. Ohio pharmacists are also specially trained and can provide immunizations for travel such as the hepatitis A vaccine.
- Advocating for patient-centered care. Pharmacists provide patient-centered care by considering the relationship between medical conditions, lifestyle, medications and other variables. It is important for members of a patient’s health care team, including the pharmacist, to be able to collaborate, coordinate and communicate as patients transition through the health care system to manage their current health conditions and achieve treatment goals. In order to do this, Ohio pharmacists advocated for changes to collaborative practice agreements. The changes recently went into effect and make it easier for physicians and pharmacists to work together more cohesively.
- Compiling tailored health care plan options. Have questions about Medicare plans? Some pharmacists can provide patients with a list of plans to choose from based on your medications and co-pays. They’ll even help you decipher the information so you can make the best choice for you based on your needs and lifestyle.
- Helping patients get medications at a reasonable cost. Don’t be afraid to ask your pharmacist if you can get your medication at a lower cost. They can research options that may save you money.
- Teaching the next generation of pharmacists. I’m a faculty member at the University of
Cincinnati James L. Winkle College of Pharmacy where we are training the next generation of pharmacists. Many of our community pharmacists, including all of the local charity and non-profit pharmacies listed above, accept UC students during their final year of training. Students see the needs of the community first-hand, and some are even inspired to work in underserved areas after graduation, including myself.
Pharmacists are an easily accessible, underutilized resource in the world of health care. This American Pharmacists Month, spend some time getting to know your pharmacist and the full range of services they offer. Your health (and maybe even your wallet) will thank you.
Bethanne Brown is an associate professor at the University of Cincinnati Winkle College of Pharmacy where she teaches and engages in patient care. She is also a spokesperson for the American Pharmacists Association.
St Vincent de Paul Charitable Pharmacy: https://www.svdpcincinnati.org/About_Us/Our_Programs/Pharmacy_and_Wellness/
Faith Community Pharmacy: http://www.faithcommunitypharmacy.com/
Community First: https://www.community-first.org/what-we-do/other-programs/pharmacy
Pharmacy OTR: http://www.pharmacyovertherhine.org/
Cincinnati Health Department Primary Care Clinics: http://www.cincinnati-oh.gov/health/city-of-cincinnati-primary-care/