Pharmacists are health professionals who have spent a minimum of 6 years studying everything there is to know about medication, both prescription and over-the-counter. The profession has been taking on a much larger role in helping to prevent common diseases such as high cholesterol, diabetes mellitus, and high blood pressure. Most pharmacies now offer a wide-range of services to the general public. Here is a list of the top 5 health services offered by most pharmacies.
1. Health Screenings
Under current conditions, there are approximately 47 million Americans who remain uninsured due to unemployment or inability to pay insurance premiums. This can lead to serious problems. Many are not getting screened for common conditions that often develop without any signs or symptoms and remain undiagnosed. To help combat this issue, many pharmacies across the country now offer health screenings to interested patients. Common health screenings that are offered include blood pressure, cholesterol, a1c (for diabetic patients), glucose screenings (used to screen for diabetes), thyroid, prostate, anemia and skin cancer. The screenings are generally less than $20, and results are usually received within 1 week. Check with your pharmacist to see which screenings would be appropriate for you. However, it is important to keep in mind that these are screenings, not diagnoses. If an abnormal result is returned by the lab, patients will be referred to their physician. Only a licensed physician can diagnose a health condition.
2. Smoking Cessation Counseling
Americans are more aware now than ever before about the serious health risks associated with using tobacco, whether it be smoking cigarettes, smoking out of a pipe, or using chewing tobacco. What many Americans are not aware of is that their pharmacists have the knowledge and tools to help them quit for good. It is now recommended that all patients interested in quitting smoking are offered both behavioral counseling and medication therapy to help control cravings and symptoms of withdrawal. The odds of quitting smoking and remaining smoke-free increase substantially for patients receiving both types of therapy. If you or someone you know is thinking about quitting smoking, talk to your pharmacist today. They are medication experts and will be able to help determine the right therapy for you.
3. Medication Therapy Management (MTM) Services
Medication Therapy Management is a service clinical pharmacists in a hospital setting have been practicing for years. However, it is a newer service provided to the general public by pharmacists in a community or retail pharmacy setting. Medication therapy management is a service that is most beneficial to patients on multiple medications (usually 5 or more medications a day) with multiple disease states. It is generally a 30 minute to 1 hour session in which the pharmacist sits down with the patient to review each medication. The pharmacist can then determine whether the medication is necessary, if it’s being taken correctly, if it fits into the patient’s budget, and if not if there is something cheaper on the market. The patient can also use the time to ask the pharmacist any questions or voice concerns they may have regarding their medications. It is very beneficial information for patients on multiple medications, and has a steeper price of about $2-$3/minute or $120 per hour. Some insurance companies are starting to pay for these services. Your pharmacist can help you decide if this is a service that would benefit you.
4. Diabetes classes and seminars
Diabetes Mellitus, more commonly referred to as just “diabetes”, is one of the most prevalent chronic diseases in the United States . It is estimated that there are about 25 million Americans who are diabetic. Diabetes management relies not only on the patient and their physician, but also many other health-care experts, including pharmacists. There are many pharmacists who specialize in diabetes management and education and retail pharmacies across the nation are beginning to offer a variety of programs for patients with diabetes. Some of the programs offered include: grocery store tours with a licensed pharmacist and dietitian, one-on-one diabetes medication counseling, a1c testing, blood-glucose meter training, and classes to help understand the basic (and not so basic) concepts of the disease. Diabetes is a lifelong struggle for many patients, and pharmacists are a very valuable resource when it comes to getting the best advice for management of the disease.
5. Vaccinations – and not just the Flu shot!
When you think of getting a vaccine at the pharmacy, what vaccine do you think of? The flu shot, of course! Pharmacists in all 50 states are now authorized to give vaccinations, and the flu shot is by far the most commonly administered vaccine. What most people don’t know is that pharmacies generally offer a variety of other important vaccinations. Some common vaccines that are now routinely administered at local pharmacies include meningitis, pneumonia, tetanus, Hepatitis A and B, Zostavax (Shingles vaccine), and Gardasil (HPV vaccine). Talk to your pharmacist to see which vaccines would be appropriate for you. Keep in mind that some vaccinations require a prescription from your physician.
Now that you know about the different services available at pharmacies in your neighborhood nationwide, it’s time to take charge of your health and the health of your loved ones! Stop by your local pharmacy today to learn more about what your pharmacist can do for YOU.
CDC – Diabetes FactSheet
United States Census Bureau – Income, poverty, and health insurance coverage 2008
Supervalu Pharmacies – Eating Healthy with Diabetes
Surgeon General – Treating Tobacco Use and Dependence