Community pharmacies escalated during Covid and changed for good

With 19 locations Across the Milwaukee area, Hayat Pharmacy is focused on providing quality health care to underserved people. For Hashim Zaibak, pharmacist and owner, quality health care is not about dispensing drugs; it is about removing the barriers that influence the health of one’s community. Pharmacists and pharmacy technicians from Hayat, an Arabic word meaning “life,” visit patients at home, and the team collectively speak more than 20 different languages ​​and dialects. During these visits, which Zaibak calls ‘Drug Therapy Management’ or MTM, pharmacists educate patients about their condition, suggest alternative methods of health management, administer antipsychotic drugs, and ensure that patients are patients take prescribed medications.

It’s a more complex version of care than you might expect from a community pharmacy, a category that encompasses everything from chains like CVS and Walgreens to grocery stores like Kroger to big box stores like Walmart to small independent business in down the street. But while the perception of pharmacies as a commodity – and of pharmacists as big-bottle-to-small-bottle brewers of pills – has remained largely unchanged for decades, the landscape has changed in recent years, particularly as a result of Covid-19.

Today’s community pharmacists administer vaccines, manage chronic disease, provide contraceptives, optimize treatment regimens, and in some cases evaluate genetic markers for personalized medicine, to name a few services. Unfortunately, the availability of these offers differs from state to state and between types of community pharmacies. Professionally, community pharmacies have spent decades advocating for improved services, often through legislative initiatives for pharmacists to be identified, legally, as health care providers, as well as for the expansion of the role of the pharmacy technician.

The Covid-19 pandemic and subsequent federal actions, such as the PREP law, have changed a switch for the practice of pharmacy at the legislative level. Almost overnight, pharmacy technicians, under the supervision of a qualified pharmacist and with appropriate training, were authorized to administer childhood vaccines and Covid-19 vaccines for any eligible patient over 3 years of age in October 2020. The PREP law continues to change practices. ; an August 2021 amendment expanded the authorization for pharmacy technicians to administer the flu vaccine to any patient regardless of age, similar to Covid-19 vaccines. Lawmakers saw community pharmacies as a way to fill growing gaps in health care. The pandemic has shut down many healthcare practices and opened doors for pharmacies to respond.

Hayat Pharmacy is one of the many providers who are using this expanded authorization to better serve their communities. In May 2020, he set up a new clinical service: testing services, more specifically Covid-19 screenings. Zaibak personally performed the screenings to demonstrate to staff and patients the importance of this work. During the initial interview for this article, Zaibak was removed to handle patient testing, now for the Delta variant.

When the vaccine became available, the Hayat Pharmacy intervened. It has an electronic enrollment system, but the communities served by Hayat have low adoption of the technology, so most of these early vaccinations have been for eligible walk-in patients. The Hayat Pharmacy emphasizes the care of the elderly, the ill and underserved, and has administered more than 50,000 vaccines to residents of Milwaukee. Once the adolescent vaccines were authorized, the first dose administered at the pharmacy was by Zaibak to his son.

Just as the role of community pharmacy has evolved, so has its financial model. Drug dispensing is increasingly a leading product for pharmacies; in some states, responsibility for drug distribution has been transferred to pharmacy technicians, although still under the direct supervision and supervision of a pharmacist. Community pharmacists are undoubtedly overtrained to dispense only drugs; the entry level degree is a doctorate. Automation and technology help patients get medication, while pharmacists like Zaibak are in a good position to make sure patients know what to do with them.

Medication optimization – making sure the correct dose is delivered, monitoring side effects of medications to mitigate damage, and recommending specific treatment – is how a pharmacist can improve quality and patient care. It can also lead to indirect savings in health care costs. The morbidity and mortality related to non-optimized drug therapy expenditure totaled $ 528.4 billion in the United States in 2016. Long-term care admissions, hospitalizations and other negative outcomes associated with wrong dosage, gaps in care, etc. cost more than the prescription drugs themselves. To pay for How? ‘Or’ What using drugs, like what the Zaibak team does on home visits, may be more important than paying for the drugs themselves, and this creates a different financial model outside of drug distribution.

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