The Weekly Roundup: American Pharmacists Month (10.26.18)

October 27, 2018 | Pamela Youngberg Dickson

As we near the end of American Pharmacists Month (did you #thankapharmacist yet?), it’s not too far out on a limb to suggest that most pharmacists went into the profession because they care about their patients. Granted, we all have to pay the electric bill, and pharmacy is still a good bet for that. But the burnout is also high. It’s challenging to make time to consult with patients—for all pharmacists—even acknowledging that highly personal care is one of the critical points of differentiation between independents and big box stores. 

Incoming American Pharmacists Association president, Michael Hogue, told Drug Store News this week that he is "extremely hopeful about the future of pharmacy…but first we have to help lift up our colleagues and move through a difficult period.” Here’s an idea: go fishing. Check out this piece—light on pharmacy but heavy on mental health—that makes for a nice weekend read. On that note (and just in time for the holidays), these tips on stress management are available for you to use with your patients, but as the Greek chorus originally berated Prometheus: physician, heal thyself. 

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The Weekly Roundup: Data-Driven Care (10.18.18)

October 19, 2018 | Pamela Youngberg Dickson

Last month, the FDA green-lighted the EKG app, slated for release with the Apple Watch Series 4. The watch has a fall detector that alerts emergency services if the user falls and does not respond to a pop-up alert within one minute. The new technology may represent patient-centric (and patient-specific) medicine at its best. At a conference earlier this year, I listened as a proponent of digital and bio-digital health products relayed an anecdote about a patient diagnosing himself while waiting for emergency responders to arrive. In the mostly healthcare-provider audience, the story earned a couple of harrumphs and then uncomfortable silence. 

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The Weekly Roundup: Mental Health Awareness (10.12.18)

October 12, 2018 | Pamela Youngberg Dickson

A provocative piece in Forbes this week suggested that illnesses related to mental health are one of the most common disabilities in the workplace and that we should encourage more discussion about it—well past “World Mental Health Day,” which occurred on Wednesday. According to the World Health Organization, about half of all mental illness begins by age 14, which makes developing coping strategies at a young age all the more important. But the problem is by no means isolated to any one age group. The impact of mental illness and its treatment in the workforce is also staggering. Pharmacy patients on certain medications or with a chronic illness are especially at risk. A recent study published by the International Journal of Geriatric Psychiatry looked at the high incidence of arthritis alongside depression in adults over 50 years of age. As you’d expect, the pharmacist’s role is growing. Check out these ideas on collaboration and these guidelines for screening and treatment.

Here are a few other stories that might be of interest:

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The Weekly Roundup: Smoking Cessation (10.5.18)

October 06, 2018 | Pamela Youngberg Dickson

The FDA made headlines this week with its surprise visit to e-cigarette powerhouse Juul, seizing thousands of pages of documents relating to marketing practices, particularly those aimed at teens. Five brands combine to represent 97 percent of the US market for e-cigarettes, and the FDA—who is only recently figuring out how to handle its regulatory authority over the product—is concerned about the smooth delivery of nicotine (from nicotine salts) and kid-friendly flavors, like cotton candy and peanut butter cup. The latest dust-up is a good reminder to pharmacists that e-cigarettes are not a recommended first-line approach for smoking cessation programs. Here are some insights into getting a program started in your pharmacy if you haven’t already done so, and check out this smoking cessation pilot program in West Virginia for more inspiration.   

Here are a few other stories that might be of interest:

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The Weekly Roundup: Advocacy (9.28.18)

September 28, 2018 | Pamela Youngberg Dickson

Last week, the Senate passed the Patient Right to Know Drug Prices Act (S. 2554), swiftly followed by the House this week. The bill was designed to prevent gag clauses from limiting a pharmacist’s ability to tell patients if they will pay less out of pocket than with insurance. One of the bill’s authors, Senator Susan Collins (R-ME), says it is “counterintuitive” for prescriptions to be cheaper if paid with a debit card rather than an insurance card, and the bill has bipartisan support. Similar bills have been presented at the state level. In fact, check out some of the state-level advocacy tracking available here. It’s the result of one of many recent advocacy efforts in the pharmacy space, including a ban on retroactive DIR fees and pharmacy choice legislation that is currently stuck in committee and is likely to reemerge next session. Model PBM legislation is available here—and there’s plenty of time to reach out to your legislators in advance of next session. Are you a pharmacist interested in taking more direct action? Run for office

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Smart-Take: Prostate Cancer

September 21, 2018 | Pamela Youngberg Dickson

One in 9 men will be diagnosed with prostate cancer in his lifetime and it is the second most common cancer among men, behind only skin cancer. To help spread awareness of its risks and treatment, we've created another installation for our Smart-Take series—a downloadable page of health tips and information gathered on a range of topics that you can post in your stores.

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The Weekly Roundup: Disaster Preparedness (9.14.18)

September 15, 2018 | Pamela Youngberg Dickson

September is National Preparedness Month. As we watched the southeast cowed by the landfall of Hurricane Florence this week, and as massive typhoons continue to strike in the Pacific, we’re reminded of the important role pharmacists play in helping our communities cope with natural disasters and other events—like pandemic or loss of power, for example—that impact care delivery. Have a plan, and make sure your employees are all educated on it. Many individual state pharmacy associations, like this one in Florida, provide state-specific advice. Or, crosscheck your plan against this disaster planning checklist from the National Community Pharmacists Association. Pharmacies that are not in the danger-zone can help, too, by hosting donation drives like this one in Louisiana

Here are a few other stories that might be of interest:

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The Weekly Roundup: Collaboration (8.31.18)

August 31, 2018 | Pamela Youngberg Dickson

There is little doubt the relationship between the pharmacist and physician is rapidly evolving into one of greater collaboration and, hopefully, mutual respect. Recently, the results of a Virginia-based health system project that targeted multiple chronic conditions got some attention: it demonstrated significant improvements in both patient care and ROI when physicians and pharmacists collaborate. At a multispecialty physician group in New Jersey, pharmacists are relied upon to help physicians meet quality metrics critical to value-based payment systems. Directors at the facility say they connected pharmacy to their team to do more than influence value-based care; it’s also “saved the organization money, brought about standardization, and raised the level of trust and respect others have for pharmacists.”

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