There is no doubt, that the pharmacists’ role in healthcare services is growing and now they have to spend more time on consulting, patience education and pharmaceutical management. Some of the specialists focused on specific issues, like women health care services and needs.
Before 2006, an emergency birth control medications used to prevent pregnancy were available over-the-counter for 18 years (and older) U.S. citizens (Plan B of Food and Drug Administration (FDA). In April 2009 that age was changed to 17. This initiative has stimulated pharmacy specialists to make some researches regarding women’s health and issues.
Medicare Part D, medication therapy management mandate and initiatives by Pitney Bowes, North Carolina and the City of Asheville stemmed the ever-growing role of pharmacists, so pharmacy specialists got the most prominent position in benefits and its deployment: now pharmacists can provide customers with disease management, combined with the lower copayment.
Another pharmacists’ role
Titled Pharmacy Forward, the twelve-month first of its kind leadership training program was launched by Pacific Institute for Women’s Health and Pharmacy Access Partnership in September 2009. The main idea of this program was the assistance for pharmacist become more competent and qualified specialists of women’s health and healthcare issues. Nine pharmacists from eight different states were invited to learn more about the issues, related to women’s health.
Those issues included everything about contraception (mostly hormonal), treatment of sexually transmitted infections and diseases, their prevention and testing, screening of cervical cancer and one of the most discussed topics – reproductive services for youth.
Pharmacy Access Partnership director, Sharon Cohen Landau, said pharmacists were interested in providing more direct health services to women, but they weren’t empowered enough and didn’t feel strong skill base for such type of services.
University of Southern California School of Pharmacy in Los Angeles associate professor of clinical pharmacy Kathy Besinque said, “Media created the picture of pharmacists who are not interested in working with women’s health care issues, which is not true”. Also, she added, that pharmacists are not always paid for those additional services. Besinque designed a curriculum, which includes a course on women’s health and she believes, that emergency contraception will increase pharmacists evolving in women’s issues, such as menopause management, use of hormonal and other kinds of contraceptives, hormonal therapy, and osteoporosis.
Pharmacy is the best place for women care
University of Washington School of Pharmacy in Seattle, clinical professor, and program mentor Don Downing thinks, that the most convenient place to provide customers with public health services (like urgent prevention) is the pharmacy.
Pharmacists, who got a license in Washington and who signed agreements with doctors and physician offices now allowed to prescribe emergency birth control medications. They got an authority and reimbursed for medications and for physician office visits. Pharmacists in Washington State now can prescribe birth control medications such as medroxyprogesterone (generic of Provera and Pfizer), some other medications and provide customers with screening for chlamydia, gonorrhea and other. A number of collaborative contracts are about 600 now.
Downing, who was one of the founders of the first pharmacist-administered program, hopes that offering vaccines and other healthcare services will give them more authority in other areas of health care and immunization services programs. He states, that they are not only pill vendors. They also take responsibility for patient outcomes and they are caregivers. He mentioned, that pharmacists don’t diagnose, but assess different health condition.
Walgreens manager from San Francisco, Liseli Mulala-Simpson created a pharmacy program which trains pharmacists at her store to develop pharmacy services and provide information about youth-friendly services at a pharmacy as well as information about reproductive health for youth.
Liseli consists that they do understand the needs of young women and teenagers, who could be embarrassed to talk to their PCP about sexual health and pharmacy services for youth. They provide their customers with more confidentiality, convenience, privacy and less expensive medications. At her retail store, she with her colleagues can prescribe emergency birth control medications, different kind of vaccines (Gardasil, for example) after the customers sign a release form and consult their customers on all the medications types, available at the store. Liseli and her fellow pharmacists provide customers with such services since 1993. Unfortunately, those consultations are covered only be the San Francisco Health Plan, which is designed to support only low-income citizens.