Understanding patient barriers to adherence is a key starting point for improving outcomes—particularly for diabetics. Those barriers come in many flavors: access, habit, health literacy, behavioral health issues, even cultural variances in how a patient views health practices and the US health system as a whole. It’s a nagging problem, as is evidenced by the continued relevance of this decade-old list of barriers and strategies for overcoming them. Hosted by Pharmacy Times magazine, a panel of care providers studying collaborative care in diabetes management recently came up with this practical suggestion: explain exactly what is in an injectable, how it works, and why it is important. Then, do the first injection with a patient in the office or pharmacy.
It’s safe to say that we are all in agreement: this flu season has been wretched. The supply chain for certain drugs, saline solution, and other supplies has been tight across the country following a trifecta of nasty hurricanes. Since early November, the FDA has been actively updating healthcare providers with guidance for managing the acute shortage of such products, including some specific to pharmacies.
It’s been another terrible week for the flu nationwide, but it's not too late to encourage flu shots for those who are still not immunized. Reports of a recent increase of influenza A subtype H1N1 and influenza B activity still make flu shots for the remainder of this flu season a safe choice, particularly for those at a high risk for complications from the flu. According to the CDC, 52.3 percent of adults aged 50–64 and 28.5 percent of adults aged 65-plus do not get vaccinated for the flu. In years like this one, where a somewhat lower vaccine strain efficacy is publicized extensively, the pharmacist’s counselling role becomes even more challenging than usual.
As you plan your flu order for the year, it makes sense to think about how you will educate and encourage patients to become vaccinated. When you do, consider the following:
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...
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:
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.
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
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?