Improving Population Health Can Start With Adjusting Traditional Pharmacy Solutions

It is essential to change the way pharmacists address the needs of diverse populations.

Better serving certain patient populations for medication adherence and reducing the total cost of care can be managed by looking at the inequities of race and personalizing care for specific patient populations, according to a session presented at the 2022 Pharmacy Quality Alliance Annual Meeting.

Sharon K. Jhawar, PharmD, MBA, BCGP, chief pharmacy officer at the Senior Care Action Network (SCAN) Health Plan, discussed how important these populations are for catered care by describing how SCAN helps to keep senior citizens healthy and stay independent through health care, medical, and social care.

Jhawar said SCAN uses several actions to reduce disparities, including a Health Equity Dashboard, Health Equity Council, and the Health Equity Team, to continue to reduce medication adherence disparity between Black/Latino members and White members.

“We have been on this journey in order to address and ensure that everyone has equitable care,” Jhawar said.

By looking at the historic focus of inequities and how to close the gaps for specific populations, it was essential to change the way pharmacists address the needs of diverse populations, such as forgetfulness, adverse effects, beliefs, logistics, and regimen complexity. Additionally, personalizing care for a specific population, including cultural understanding, building trust, having a translator, and humility by the staff can make a huge difference.

“What we learned with some of our members is that they will listen to what their health care provider says, but they won’t do anything unless they believe it and trust the person,” Jhawar said. “So, a lot of our interactions were establishing rapport with them.”

As for comprehensive long-term pharmacy services, Marshall Votta, chief growth officer at ExactCare Pharmacy, said having the right care promotes improved health and better outcomes, such as better overall patient health and superior patient satisfaction.

“If you look at the data, a vast majority of these populations experience pretty typical average care and have no pharmacy services,” Votta said. “They need more care, but there aren’t any pharmacy resources to help them integrate pharmacy care and taking care of the patient.”

For patients with complex needs, there are industry standards that should fall under any qualifications done in the home setting, including:

  • Typically taking 8 or more medications
  • Multiple chronic conditions
  • Needing assistance with activities of daily living
  • Recent hospitalization or emergency department visits
  • Needing care management to coordinate care
  • Multiple prescribers and polypharmacy
  • Utilizing home health services

Pharmacists have a unique role in providing this level of care, which begins if the pharmacy invests extra resources in building a relationship with the patient and developing a profile that fully documents the patient’s needs. Many patients with chronic care needs qualify for comprehensive long term care (LTC) pharmacy services in the home setting, and some LTC pharmacies are developing models that augment those home-based models with advanced telehealth services, according to Votta.

“Many pharmacies, and hopefully every pharmacy, when they have patients with complex needs, can do at least some of these evaluations to provide the best care,” Votta said.

REFERENCE

Clinically Improving Pharmacy Solutions to Improve Population Health and Reduce Total Cost of Care. PQA Annual Meeting 2022. May 4, 2022. Accessed May 4, 2022.