Pharmacy organizations have produced advisories to guide workflow and optimize services, yet there still exists a gap in further integration of pharmacists into public health and safety initiatives.
Pharmacy professionals have been highly responsive as frontline healthcare workers in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. Yet challenges remain in fully expanding pharmacists' ability to provide the best optimum patient care and overall population health interventions as well as ensure healthcare worker and public health safety. Pharmacy organizations have produced guidelines and advisories to guide workflow and optimize services during this pandemic, yet there still exists a gap in further integration of pharmacists into public health and safety initiatives.
Investigators have further sought to make further leaps in this area in development of the Pharmacy Emergency Preparedness and Response (PEPR) Framework.1 According to an article in Research and Social Administrative Pharmacy, the recommendations in this framework sought to fully integrate pharmacy professionals within public health emergency preparedness and response (EP&R) efforts, and emphasize to the public that pharmacists' roles, skills, and contributions merit recognition as integral members of the interprofessional health care team.
Through the influence of multiple pharmacy organizations' joint policy recommendations specifically geared in response to COVID-19, the PEPR Framework identified key focus areas to provide expanded guidelines for pharmacists across all practice settings. These areas include: emergency preparedness response; operations management; patient care and population health interventions; public health pharmacy; education and continuing professional education; and evaluation, research, and dissemination for impact and outcomes. Currently, pharmacists have contributed considerably towards improving public health through such examples as immunizations, health promotion, health education, medication counseling, and medication reconciliation.
Based on PEPR recommendations, pharmacy managers can assist greatly in affecting the significant impact that pharmacists can provide towards EP&R public health. They can take initiative and find ways to implement action plans from the proposed PEPR Framework. This merits their consideration as part of strategic planning by the pharmacy and subsequent incorporation of mission and core values that embrace the concept.
Adoption of these practices will invariably involve identifying and allocating resources toward these endeavors such as funding and personnel. Proper business planning and use of implementation science principles will help assure the sustainability of these services.
Pharmacy managers are encouraged to engage with key stakeholders such as other health care professionals, the business community, health plans, and local legislators. This will strengthen potential partnerships, market pharmacy as a profession, and increase the likelihood of acquiring reimbursement for these services.
Additional information about Strategic Planning and Value-Added Services as a Component of Enhancing Pharmacists’ Role in Public Health can be found in Pharmacy Management: Essentials for All Practice Settings, 5e.
Joanne Canedo is a PharmD candidate at Touro University California College of Pharmacy, Vallejo, CA.
Shane P. Desselle, RPh, PhD, FAPhA, Professor of Social/behavioral pharmacy at Touro University California College of Pharmacy.
Aruru M, Truong HA, Clark S. Pharmacy Emergency Preparedness and Response (PEPR): A proposed framework for expanding pharmacy professionals' roles and contributions to emergency preparedness and response during the COVID-19 pandemic and beyond. Res Social Adm Pharm. 2021;17(1):1967-1977.