Expert Discusses Pharmacists Role on Rural Access to Care, Aiding Health Equity

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Tera Moore, PharmD, BCACP, discusses how the integration of pharmacists into team-based models could benefit patient access to care in rural populations.

Pharmacy Times interviewed Tera Moore, PharmD, BCACP, National Program Manager, Clinical Practice Integration and Model Advancement U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs on the pharmacist’s role in integrating patient access to care in rural settings. Moore discussed how team-based care models are centered around providing the best care to patients. Additionally, Moore emphasized the importance of connecting patients living in rural areas to care to improve health equity and reduce disparities.

Pharmacy Times

Can you introduce yourself?

Tera Moore

I'm Tera Moore. I'm a national program manager with the Department of Affairs Pharmacy Benefits Management, Clinical Pharmacy Practice office. I specifically work on clinical practice integration and model advancement within the CPPO office.

Pharmacy Times

Can you give a brief overview on team-based care models and how that can aid access to care in rural settings?

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Image credit: Mumtaaz Dharsey/peopleimages.com | stock.adobe.com

Moore

Team based care models really center around providing the best care to the patients. And that's expertise from all the different disciplines on the team. When you think of it in a visual, it's really the patient at the center of the care. Teams are able to provide the quintuple aim of health care, which includes improving care to patients, reducing healthcare costs, improving the patient experience, but also provider wellbeing. Certainly, that fifth piece of the aim is related to health equity. So, with a pharmacist practitioner as part of that team, providing that comprehensive medication management, teams can achieve that quintuple aim and really individualize that in the shared decision making with the patient in their care. There are team-based models in many settings, but specific to those patients in rural areas. We know that there are shortages and an opportunity for both primary care and mental health to provide better access with these models.

Pharmacy Times

What are the current ways a rural health care system and a federally qualified health center could connect? And how could they benefit each other?

Moore

So federally qualified health centers are federally funded, nonprofit health care centers or clinics. These serve medical underserved areas or populations. With 15% of Americans living in rural areas, we know that there are disparities due to geographic isolation. There oftentimes can be higher rates of health risk behaviors, and then limited job opportunities. So, services for ... disorders and other specialties are limited. There's really a need to connect these patients to care to improve that health equity and reduce those disparities.

Pharmacy Times

What are the needed elements for integration among pharmacists for service in a rural setting?

Moore

There are several elements for successful integration of that pharmacist’s practitioner into that rural setting, but there's so many opportunities too. A few of those most important ones are identifying the highest clinical needs for that area, for comprehensive medication management. What is the infrastructure for technology to help reduce those geographic barriers— not only to increase access, but that increases quality too. And certainly, we know at the foundation of it just how important it is to have stakeholder support. Both from the leadership of the clinic or the healthcare system, but also those frontline team members and certainly funding to support sustainment of any of these services.

Pharmacy Times

Is there anything you would like to add?

Moore

I'll just say that pharmacies practitioners, we know are well positioned and they're highly trusted medication experts who do increase not only the access and quality care, but that quintuple aim. They are a key resource to improve that health care to rural veterans and achieve health equity.

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