Following the release of The Surgeon General’s Call to Action to Control Hypertension by the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) that acknowledges pharmacists as integral members of the hypertension care team, the National Association of Chain Drug Stores (NACDS) released a statement on the importance of this report in continuing the momentum of recognizing the role of pharmacists in the battle against chronic diseases.

Additionally, the NACDS explained that those facing these chronic disease states are often medically underserved and suffering from disparities within the health care system.

In the report by the HHS, there are 3 main goals outlined by the authors. First, they explain it is critical to make hypertension control a priority. Second, they note the necessity of ensuring that the places where people live, learn, work, and play support the control of hypertension. Third, they explain the importance of optimizing patient care for hypertension control.

In working toward achieving these goals, the report acknowledges community pharmacies’ and pharmacists’ unique and critical roles in improving hypertension control and supporting patients throughout the country.

“Pharmacies should not simply be considered a way to distribute medication. Community-based pharmacists can support hypertension management in meaningful ways, including being integral members of care teams,” the HHS report explains. “They can provide medication therapy management services to reconcile medication regimens, support adherence, and recommend or make adjustments to medications to help patients lower their blood pressure.”

In addition, the report notes the accessibility of pharmacies in communities where patients working to control hypertension may lack access to services outside of the pharmacy. This places community pharmacists in a position to deliver crucial preventive services and effectively address hypertension-related health disparities.

“Including pharmacists in community-based efforts to improve hypertension control among underserved populations through active medication management has also proved promising and could be implemented in an alternative care model to enhance traditional primary care,” the authors of the report wrote.

Furthermore, the authors also noted the challenges presented by reimbursement models that do not support the establishment of care teams for patients, which include nontraditional members such as pharmacists and community health workers.

“US Surgeon General Jerome M. Adams’ Call to Action report validates pharmacy’s long-standing urging for a heightened role in helping every American achieve and maintain heart health,” said NACDS President and CEO Steven C. Anderson, in a press release. “The COVID-19 pandemic has not only illuminated the disproportionate impact of chronic conditions—such as hypertension—on medically underserved and disadvantaged communities, but also has emphasized major gaps in patient care access.”

Anderson added that pharmacists are vital in the effort to meet the health care needs of patients and communities.

“The evidence confirms that pharmacists can play an increasingly meaningful role on the issue of hypertension control—and in reaching those populations that face disparities in healthcare,” Anderson said in the press release. “To improve quality care and expand access to clinical care interventions in every corner of America, community pharmacies and pharmacists must be further empowered and fully leveraged to serve as a part of the solution.”

REFERENCE
NACDS Lauds HHS Report Recognizing Pharmacy’s Role in Advancing Hypertension Control. Arlington, VA: NACDS; October 8, 2020. https://www.nacds.org/news/nacds-lauds-hhs-report-recognizing-pharmacys-role-in-advancing-hypertension-control/. Accessed October 9, 2020.