Eighty Midwest pharmacies are taking part in a study aimed at improving patient outcomes by having specially trained pharmacists conduct free flu and strep throat tests, and in some cases fill matching prescriptions under a collaborative practice agreement with physicians.
“We did a pilot last year with one of our members and it went extremely well so now we’re expanding it to different pharmacies,” explained Kathleen Jaeger, president of the NACDS Foundation, which is funding the study with a grant. “We’re hopeful we can show that providing this care and these services at the pharmacy really does improve time to treat and outcomes.”
A dozen Meijer pharmacies in Michigan are participating in the study conducted by Ferris State University and the University of Nebraska Medical Center College of Pharmacy.
“This is not a replacement of physician services,” explained Karen Mankowki, vice president of pharmacy operations for Meijer, in a statement. “Increasing accessibility for treating flu and strep throat, and enabling pharmacists to work from those results means that patients might self-treat symptoms less and get better more quickly. That decreases the risk of spreading those common illnesses, and allows doctors and nurse practitioners to provide care to patients with more complicated conditions."
The pharmacy is a natural location for patient outreach since its a common destination for over-the-counter remedies, according to Dr. Donald Klepser of UNMC.
“Many of us forget how many people come to the pharmacy first anyway, when they have symptoms for flu and strep,” he said, in a statement. “Stand at your pharmacy during cold and flu season and see how many people ask the pharmacist ‘What should I take for this?’”
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