Regardless of what has happened in the past or what will happen in the future to the Affordable Care Act, also known as “ObamaCare,” there has been a general recognition that we need to create a new culture of health by and among the American people. From embracing a patient-centered model of care to management of chronic diseases, the health care system is changing to embrace a culture of health at the very center of our health care transformation.
Over the years, the health care system realized that a comprehensive team approach to patient care produced improved patient outcomes. As that integrated team model gained notoriety, a more diverse panel of health care professionals began to interact directly with patients and their caregivers. While physicians have and will continue to be an integral part of the health care team, doctors have been joined by pharmacists, advanced practice nurses, physicians assistants, dentists, optometrists, dieticians and other health care professionals in provide direct patient care services. These skilled professionals are also helping patients better understand their role in their own health care. And, they are also helping to create a culture of health when they interact with their patients.
Pharmacists, for example, were once relegated to exclusively preparing and dispensing medications. However, today’s pharmacists are providing a host of direct patient care activities. Pharmacists are now providing immunizations in all 50 states. In fact, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has recognized that pharmacists play a vital public health role in preventing the spread of disease like influenza and pneumonia. Even though August was the National Immunization Awareness Month, I want to encourage everyone to get vaccinated … especially those at risk populations like seniors.
Pharmacists are also providing direct patients care services like medication therapy management (MTM). A recent Wall Street Journal article highlighted how community pharmacists are offering personalized patient services to improve care and reduce costs. Patients who do not take their medications as prescribed by their physicians cost the U.S. health care system an estimated $290 billion a year in avoidable medical spending.
As the health care system continues to look for innovative ways to control spending while improving health outcomes, addressing the problem of medication adherence seems to be a logical and important first step. Non-compliance to prescription drug therapy is a serious problem and pharmacists are rising up to develop innovative solutions to combat this issue.
Local community pharmacies all over the nation are participating in a public awareness campaign launched by the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) called the Million Hearts initiative. This innovative blood pressure education campaign is focused on the prevention and control of high blood pressure. The new campaign aims to prevent a million heart attacks and strokes over the next 5 years.
Today’s pharmacists are making great strides in creating a culture of health in America. From prevention programs like immunizations for influenza, shingles and pneumonia to innovative, medication therapy management (MTM) services for diabetes and hypertension, pharmacists are raising awareness and expectations of patients across the U.S. As the pharmacy profession continues to embrace health and wellness programs, new opportunities for patient engagement will occur. And, pharmacists will play a much larger role in creating a culture of health in America.