The Weekly Roundup: Flu Season (2.9.18)

February 09, 2018 | Pamela Youngberg Dickson

The 2017–2018 flu season has been notably challenging with outbreaks still not at their peak and increased hospitalization rates up to 60 per 100,000 people in the United States. The CDC reported outpatient visits for flu-like illness as being significantly higher than the national baseline. In fact, it’s being touted as the worst season since the swine flu pandemic nearly a decade ago in 2009. Influenza A subtype H3N2 has dominated recent reports, impacting especially older adults.

In January, New York governor Andrew Cuomo declared a public health emergency and  signed an executive order enabling pharmacists to immunize children between the ages of two and 16...

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It's time to order your flu shots!

February 09, 2018 | Jeremy Johnson

We’ve previously tried to drive home the importance of ordering vaccines as early as possible—and, believe it or not, that time is now. Remember: first-ordered, first-delivered. The production, testing, and distribution timeline for vaccine manufacturers is tight, and if anything goes awry, you can expect market shortages or delays. For that reason, it also makes sense to split your order among multiple manufactures. 

When pre-booking your flu vaccines for next season, here are a few additional things to consider: 

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The Weekly Roundup: Cybersecurity (2.2.18)

January 31, 2018 | Pamela Youngberg Dickson

Last year, one of the largest cybersecurity attacks to date pummeled 150 countries. No one is completely safe—including pharmacies, which collect a substantial amount of personal information on patients. The Department of Commerce’s National Institute of Standards and Technology has developed and continues to refine a framework for protecting critical infrastructure from cyberattack that can provide even small businesses guidance: Identify, Protect, Detect, Respond, and Recover.

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The Weekly Roundup: OTC Hearing Aids (1.19.18)

January 19, 2018 | Pamela Youngberg Dickson

Can you hear me now? Since Congress authorized OTC hearing products last August, you may have begun to field questions about what’s right for your patients. The AARP, which undoubtedly has the ear of many in this population segment, is touting the ruling as a big win. The news has been positioned as middle-ground for consumers, a balance between the high cost of prescription hearing aids with some of the quality protection afforded by regulation. Clearly an OTC solution is not right for every patient. Audiologists like Jaynee A. Handelsman, Ph.D., director of pediatric audiology at Michigan Medicine at the University of Michigan, have opposed the law, saying "the best approach for consumers to address hearing loss is to seek the services of a licensed and certified audiologist.” But pharmacists can play a positive role

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The Weekly Roundup: Sinking Margins (1.12.18)

January 12, 2018 | Pamela Youngberg Dickson

Here’s some hot-off-the-press, not-so-surprising news: independent pharmacy margins on average continue to decline, and pharmacy owners’ profits were also down in 2017, as reported by supply chain pundit Adam Fein. The NCPA—which produces most of the numbers Fein relies on each year in its annual NCPA Digest—takes pains to highlight some of the rosier aspects of the numbers. After all, the number of independents has remained fairly steady over the past 10 years at about 22,000. What’s more, independents reach a clearly underserved market: 81 percent of independent community pharmacies are situated in population areas of 50,000 or less and provide counselling and adherence services where none would otherwise be provided by mail-order or chain pharmacies. 

The economic reality of the raw numbers point to a familiar issue: how can pharmacists measure services that provide value but are not necessarily compensated for—or more to the point, what can be done to change that?

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Welcome 2018!

January 05, 2018 | Pamela Youngberg Dickson

‘Tis the season to resolve to do this-or-that to better ourselves, our families, business, and community. You’ve no doubt seen the headlines ad nauseam all weekend. Turns out you don’t have to read them all—we’ve done it for you. Here are some suggestions from around the web to get your ideas percolating.

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The Weekly Roundup, 12.29.17

December 29, 2017 | Pamela Youngberg Dickson

The American Hospital Association took the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services to task for a proposed $1.6 billion cut in Medicare payments this month in a case that may be decided before the new year. At the center of the litigation is the proposed adjustment of payments that would have gone into the 340B program. The 25-year-old program was signed onto by George Bush. It’s a federal program that lets certain hospitals buy significantly discounted drugs from manufactures.  The expectation is that those savings are then pushed into programs that improve access to treatment and create more robust clinical programs for vulnerable patient populations.

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The Weekly Roundup, 12.15.17

December 15, 2017 | Pamela Youngberg Dickson

There seems to be a lot of public attention on mental health management this time of year. (Perhaps I just notice it as a result of the annual bout against waning daylight which with those of us living in the northern climes must contend.) Regardless, this report caught my eye, and you can find the video of the press conference here. It highlights a range of recommendations for improving care via better coordination of service among agencies, providers, and other stakeholders. Sound familiar?

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