There are approximately 275 million patient visits to a community pharmacy each week in the United States (CDC). Each year consumers and patients visit their community pharmacy 10 times more frequently than their primary care physicians’ offices. This access creates tremendous opportunities for community health interventions, especially for people without paid vacation or sick days, private health insurance, or a primary care physician. Pharmacists in Connecticut can give all adult vaccinations and are second only to the physician’s office in number of immunizations provided. Over the past several years, we have conducted pilot projects sponsored by the CDC and the CT Department of Public Health showing that pharmacists can provide a wider range of immunizations to patients and can impact diabetes and heart disease outcomes through community pharmacy-provided medication services. We have a pilot study funded by InCHIP in which community pharmacies will provide colon cancer screening with referrals to UConn Health in higher risk patients. However, this work is only the beginning since the network is limited to three stores within a pharmacy chain owned by a single person. We are cultivating a broad network of community pharmacies in underserved or high-risk populations to assess the value of comprehensive medication optimization and management services in a statewide initiative.
Our Connecticut community pharmacy practice and research network allows pharmacists and academic researchers unique partnership opportunities where they can each do what they do best. Pharmacists leverage their clinical expertise, access to patients, and the respect they have created among their patients to enhance their services. Their front-line experiences also provide special insight into potential strategies for improved patient care and can be assessed by researchers. Researchers craft scientific protocols, seek out grant opportunities, provide analysis of pharmacists’ interventions, and publish the results so others can benefit. When partnered together, pharmacists and researchers are able to successfully achieve what they otherwise would not alone.
Pharmacists’ first and foremost purpose is patient care, and therefore PRISM research projects are completed in “the real world” with little-to-no special research training required. As projects are completed in real-world settings, projects are designed to fit into pharmacists’ workflow and produce results that are relevant and easily translated into everyday practice. Some projects bring the pharmacist to the patient, providing medication management services in remote locations, in person or through videoconferencing, and in some cases in conjunction with community health workers.
Poised and ready to help alleviate the nations’ primary care provider shortage, community pharmacists are well-trained experts in medication safety and preventive care. When partnered within a practice and research network, pharmacists are able to optimize interventions and prove that pharmacist-delivered patient care produces cost-effective, safe, and effective outcomes.
There are currently 23 innovative, community pharmacies and numerous contracted pharmacists in our “enhanced services network”. All Connecticut community pharmacists are welcome and encouraged to join. As more pharmacists participate, the more reliable, generalizable and influential the results. Pharmacists only participate in research projects of their choosing, and projects which match their interests and work-flow. For more information on joining or proposing a project idea, please Partner with Us.
Publications in this area include:
Smith MA, Spiggle S, McConnell B. Strategies for community-based medication management services in value-based health plans. Res Social Adm Pharm. 2016 Jan 21. pii: S1551-7411(16)00028-0. doi: 10.1016/j.sapharm.2016.01.005
Funded grant projects in this area include:
State Public Health Actions to Prevent and Control Diabetes, Heart disease, Obesity, and Associated Risk Factors–Pharmacy Initiative. Sponsor: CDC/CT DPH ($661,613). PI: Thomas Buckley; Co-investigator: Marissa Salvo
ASTHO Million Hearts Clinical-Community Linkages Learning Collaborative. Sponsor: Association of State and Territorial Health Officials/CT DPH ($170,000). PI: Thomas Buckley; Co-investigator: Rachel Eyler
Enhancing Pneumococcocal and Herpes Zoster Vaccination Rates through Pharmacy Collaboration. Sponsor: CDC/CT DPH ($245,279); PI: Thomas Buckley
“Consumer, Physician, and Payer Perspectives on Primary Care Medication Management Services with a Shared Resource Pharmacists Network” Sponsor: Community Pharmacy Foundation ($55,000). PI: Marie Smith.