December 15, 2016
Preventative care can begin at the pharmacy.
“Good health starts with healthy lifestyle choices and health screenings,” said Jennifer Helmke, Pharm.D., pharmacy manager at Bremo Pharmacy, an independent community pharmacy with two retail locations and one long term care pharmacy in the Richmond, Va., area.
Bremo Pharmacy offers free and discounted health screenings for patients, including cardiovascular risk assessments, blood glucose testing for diabetes, bone mineral density testing for osteoporosis, annual wellness checks and more.
If you’re considering offering health screenings to patients, like Bremo Pharmacy does, now is a prime time to do so.
National attention for preventative care is increasing. In 2011, the National Prevention Strategy was released, which aims to guide our nation in the most effective and achievable means for improving health and well-being.
Currently Americans are using preventative services at about half the recommended rate, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Each year, potentially preventable chronic diseases are responsible for millions of premature deaths.
Health screenings provide the opportunity to monitor existing problems and screen for any potential health concerns. And, these screenings also enable pharmacists to get a better knowledge of their patients’ health status.
“We may see patients more often than their doctors, so we can catch issues earlier,” Helmke said. “When the pharmacy has more information about a patient’s health, we can help guide them in the right direction. Often, screenings get to the root of the problem when a patient is not at their optimal health goals.”
The problem could be that the patient doesn’t know when to take her medication or a drug interaction may be causing the medication not to work correctly, Helmke said. “It could also be an issue of noncompliance or patients not understanding where their blood pressure should be,” she said.
Pharmacists are well prepared to perform health screenings.
“Most pharmacists are Doctors of Pharmacy,” Helmke said. “They have been trained to perform these health screenings during pharmacy school and rotations. Continuing education is recommended to provide the latest information about new testing equipment or keeping up-to-date with information about each screening.”
And it’s really about looking at the overall health of the patient. “Each screening is more than just the number,” Helmke said. A pharmacist reviews the patient’s medical history, prescriptions and risk factors before performing the test. After the test, the pharmacist explains the results and offers suggestions on ways to improve the results.
Helmke recommends pharmacies perform their screenings in a private space. Bremo Pharmacy conducts its screenings in a clinical office with a closed door. And, like most providers, Bremo Pharmacy schedules its screenings by appointment. Making appointments ensures that a pharmacist is available to perform the screening.
Bremo Pharmacy’s most popular health screening is for osteoporosis. The pharmacy gets the word out about all of its screenings by promoting these services on its website, in monthly newsletters, by doing T.V. interviews on local morning shows, posting on its Facebook page and advertising in local newspapers. The pharmacy also has a marketing representative who visits physicians’ offices and community centers.
Every quarter, Bremo Pharmacy offers one type of screening at a discounted rate—or completely free. “We see a lot of turnout for the free or discounted screenings we offer,” Helmke said. “As we have increased our promotions of these, the turnout is better. We remind patients that we always have these screenings all year round, but we tend to see more attendance during the promo months.”
Patients likely already know that your independent community pharmacy offers certain services, like flu shots. But they’re probably not aware pharmacies can offer health screenings.
“Knowing is the key,” Helmke said. “Many people aren’t aware that pharmacies can do screenings, or they think that’s what their doctor does. But, as we all know, doctors’ appointments are very quick. Most people don’t have all their questions answered during their visit, or they come up with questions once they go home. Depending on the screening, the pharmacist is one of the best providers for this service.”
Want to start providing health screenings at your pharmacy? Here’s a list of the health screenings Bremo Pharmacy, an independent community pharmacy in the Richmond, Va., area, offers to give you an idea of where to start.