CEO and Founder
November 5, 2020
Guest post: How digital health is changing care delivery for pharmacists and improving public health
CEO and founder of MATTER startup illuminate.health shares thoughts on how COVID-19 is changing the role of pharmacists
Change is here. Pharmacists have been given the authority to order and administer COVID-19 tests by the Department of Health and Human Services. The agency has also called on pharmacists to help increase immunization rates by authorizing them to administer pediatric vaccinations in all 50 states. Of course, dispensing medications is not fully automated, and pharmacists will need to leverage technology to scale their bandwidth and enable easier access to patients and automate routine tasks.
Throughout the COVID-19 pandemic, ensuring that patients have better access to care and treatment is more critical than ever. For example, certain underserved patient populations on the south side of Chicago had higher COVID-19 mortality rates due, in part, to lack of access to care. In addition, the opioid crisis rages on amidst the pandemic, and the isolation and lack of human connection necessary for social distancing has created an extra challenge for those struggling with addiction. Given this surge in patient needs, telehealth adoption has aided healthcare providers and pharmacists immensely during the pandemic. Telehealth reimbursement from the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services continues to expand for various forms, including remote patient monitoring, and has proven that technology-enabled care is here to stay. At the end of the day, telehealth has helped facilitate better access to the right care at the time at a higher scale than ever before.
In conversations with Dr. Ken Danduran, the president of Mednovate Connect, we’ve discussed how technology can help identify which patients need a Comprehensive Medication Review (CMR). This includes identifying who is not taking their statins, how to engage with them and how to enroll them in other clinical services like medication synchronization, disease management and more. Medication compliance report dashboards can provide a real-time view of how a patient is doing via patient reported outcomes, identifying symptoms and side effects so medications can be tailored, automated and organized as needed. This way, pharmacists can focus on urgent patient care tasks and medication safety checks to prevent polypharmacy and adverse events.
Technology can now help patients message pharmacists in real time from within a mobile app instead of trying to figure out who to call, then waiting on hold or play phone tag. These apps enable secure chat messaging, real-time alerts around health status and video consults, helping to enhance the pharmacist-patient relationship outside the traditional walls of a community pharmacy.
Pharmacists are now equipped to make an impact in a multitude of care settings, from traditional community pharmacy, academia, provider groups and hospitals, to virtual care or as part of a chronic disease management team and population health program. With enhanced capabilities and approval to order COVID-19 tests or administer vaccinations, pharmacists are becoming an even greater resource to benefit public health. Personally speaking, as a matter of course, my wife and I always double check our medications with our neighborhood pharmacist and I have seen the passion for patient care from the pharmacists we’ve closely worked with over the last three years. Together, we discuss patient challenges, work to find solutions and receive education about our medications. Collaborative and passionate patient care is why pharmacists like Mike Rogers, illuminate.health’s clinical pharmacist, follow the clinical career path.
Varun Goyal is the CEO and founder of illuminate.health, a digital health startup and MATTER member.