McKesson's Health Across Americatour is ending this spring. The nationwidecampaign, which was launched in May2005, was created to stress the importantrole community pharmacists play inthe health care system. The second legof the tour focused on education aboutthe new Medicare Part D prescriptiondrug benefit and emphasized the keyrole community pharmacists play asadvisers to their patients.
Marty Gentry, PharmD, co-owner ofDickson Apothecary in Dickson, Tenn,believes that education is part of the job."Whether it's helping [patients] get theirmedicine or pick a drug plan that is bestfor them, it's our job."
McKesson, wholesaler for DicksonApothecary, approachedDr. Gentryabout speakingwith patients aboutthe new drugplan during thetour's stop inTennessee in November2005. Dr.Gentry arrangedfor conferencespace at HorizonMedical Center inDickson for patients to learn aboutMedicare Part D, ask questions, andenroll. "Many of my patients felt themeeting helped them more than gettingthe [Medicare] booklet. [The booklet] wasa very big text with a lot of writing, and itscared a lot of them,"he said.
The first week of the enrollmentprocess was very busy at DicksonApothecary's 3 locations. Dr. Gentry commentedthat it was a "smooth process."To help with the continued transition, theretail pharmacy has appointment hoursfor patients to ask questions and enroll ina plan. "We're seeing that this age groupdoesn't have access [to] or know how touse the Internet."Therefore, the pharmacyplans to continue with individualappointments until after the enrollmentcloses in May 2006.
Although there have been reports ofproblems with the prescription drugplan, overall, Dr. Gentry said, "I believe it'sa good program. As with any new plan,there will be glitches, and they're beingworked out."