Chronic Disease Management Service Opportunities for Community Pharmacists During the COVID-19 Pandemic

Gregory Dwyer, MPH; Adebola Popoola, JD, MPH, MBS; Naomi Seiler, JD; Nicole Therrien, PharmD, MPH; Aaron Karacuschansky, MPH; Erika Fulmer, MHA; Katie Horton, JD, RN, MPH

Disclosures

Prev Chronic Dis. 2022;19(3):e10 

In This Article

Discussion

The COVID-19 pandemic necessitated reimagining how health care systems deliver care to patients. Facilitating pharmacist provision of chronic disease management services involves ensuring that adequate staffing, technology, and workflow procedures are available to provide these services. COVID-19 has exacerbated existing workflow challenges, as many pharmacies deal with pandemic-related staffing shortages, COVID-19 testing, and vaccination.

Given the current environment, investing in health care delivery models that include and reimburse pharmacists for their unique skill set in providing chronic disease management services is critical for both COVID-19 and chronic disease management. In the longer term, evaluating the effects of payment models for pharmacist-provided chronic disease management services on both access to and quality of care will be important. In the near term, building the case for reimbursement may entail data-driven prioritization that focuses on those services most closely aligned with pharmacists' unique skill sets.

Pharmacy practice is at a crossroads; pharmacies are choosing whether to pursue faster, cheaper business processes to compete with online retailers[4] or spend more resources to deliver quality care that patients cannot find through online retailers. Some pharmacies are choosing to invest in providing complex and enhanced services[5] while others are instead offering home delivery services[6] to rival the service of online retailers. The COVID-19 pandemic did not create these divergent paths, but it has accelerated the need to choose a direction.

The conclusions in this study are based on the perspectives of individuals working in pharmacy policy and practice. We did not consider the perspectives of other health care professionals who work with pharmacists to provide chronic disease management services. Future studies examining community pharmacists' roles in chronic disease care from the perspective of these health care professionals may be valuable. Nevertheless, community pharmacists can play a critical role in delivering chronic disease management services.

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