Improving Health Across Rural America
Rural communities throughout the united states are at the heart of what makes this nation thrive, yet far too often the residents of these areas lack access to the health care they need. Residents of rural communities account for 20% of the US population, but just 10% of physicians practice in these areas, limiting patient interaction with primary care providers.
Rural communities throughout the united states are at the heart of what makes this nation thrive, yet far too often the residents of these areas lack access to the health care they need. Residents of rural communities account for 20% of the US population, but just 10% of physicians practice in these areas, limiting patient interaction with primary care providers.1 Barriers such as poor health literacy, financial restrictions, and long distances to health care facilities can also contribute to suboptimal outcomes among rural patients with chronic conditions, who are already at greater risk of developing complications than those in urban areas.2-4 Needless to say, these communities deserve better.
Pharmacists are ideally positioned to help rural patients manage their health. Easily accessible and often independently owned, small-town pharmacies have long served as health care hubs for their communities, providing patients with a local setting where their health-related questions and concerns could be initially addressed. The close-knit nature of many of these communities also creates opportunities for collaboration between pharmacists and other health care providers; indeed, research has found that pharmacist intervention can improve outcomes among rural patients with diabetes.3,4
In July, Pharmacy Times® editor in chief Troy Trygstad, PharmD, PhD, MBA, joined members of the Iowa Pharmacy Association for the Register’s Annual Great Bicycle Ride Across Iowa (RAGBRAI), a weeklong, 428-mile cycling tour of the Hawkeye State country-side. In addition to providing their fellow cyclists with sunscreen, pain relievers, and other OTC treatments, Trygstad and his teammates visited rural pharmacies throughout Iowa, witnessing first-hand the incredible impact these pharmacists have on their communities. His journey only strengthened our resolve to empower rural pharmacists, and we hope you will continue to support us in this important endeavor.
In the September issue of Pharmacy Times®, we are providing pharmacists, both rural and urban, some information they can use to help them improve immunization rates among their patients.5 This issue of Pharmacy Times® contains practical information on immune boosters, childhood vaccines, and more, as well as a free continuing education activity on omega-3 supplementation. Additionally, be sure to read about our 2018 Next-Generation Pharmacist Award finalists, a group of exceptional pharmacists, pharmacy students, and pharmacy technicians who have gone above and beyond in caring for their patients and advancing their profession.
Thank you for reading.
- Healthcare disparities & barriers to healthcare. Stanford Medicine eCampus Rural Health website. ruralhealth.stanford.edu/health-pros/factsheets/disparities-barriers.html. Accessed July 30, 2018.
- Rural and urban health. Georgetown University Health Policy Institute website. Published January 7, 2003. hpi.georgetown.edu/agingsociety/pubhtml/rural/rural.html. Accessed July 30, 2018.
- Moreau C, Sando KR, Zambrano DH. Assessing the effect of pharmacist care on diabetes-related outcomes in a rural outpatient clinic. Ann Pharmacother. 2016; doi: 10.1177/1060028016685731.
- Pruitt J, Moracho-Vilrriales C, Threatt T, et al. Identification, prevalence, and treatment of painful diabetic neuropathy in patients from a rural area in South Carolina. J Pain Res. 2017;10:833-843.
- Treating serious mental illness in rural areas. Pharmacy Times® website. Published May 9, 2018. pharmacytimes.com/peer-exchange/serious-mental-illness/treating-serious-mental-illness-in-rural-areas. Accessed July 30, 2018.
- Colorafi K, Panther S, McKeirnan K, et al. Assessing pneumococcal vaccination availability in under-vaccinated rural counties: a pharmacy perspective. Consult Pharm. 2018;33(3):163-170.