While new technology is continually providing us with more meaningful ways to connect with patients, perhaps we can capitalize on other patient contact methods we have in place and can re-purpose them into valuable hubs for data collection and opportunities for provider-patient interactions. Namely, pharmacies.
Currently, there are over 67,000 pharmacies in the United States, many of which are located in high-traffic locations, such as convenience, grocery, and department stores—all places visited frequently by all strata of patients.
What if we found a way to capitalize on the frequency with which patients are in these locations—especially high-risk patients? If we can transform the way that patients seek out care, we can use pharmacies as locations for providing in-person, consistent interaction and begin to change the habits and health patterns of those who need treatment. There’s no reason why we can’t get pharmacists out from behind the counter and have them begin valuable interactions with patients whether in a retail setting or interacting as a physically integrated part of the practice.
Dr. Richard Cassidy, Chief Accountable Care Officer at Walgreens, described the possibilities when we spoke. “We’ve calculated that the average diabetic will see his or her doc approximately four times a year. But that individual is likely to come into Walgreen’s 28 to 30 times a year,” shared Dr. Cassidy. “We have tens of thousands of pharmacists who have underutilized skillsets and knowledge. As providers and payers go on that journey from volume to value, retail pharmacies are ideally positioned to partner with providers in effectively educating and engaging patients to improve outcomes.”
The evolution in the way we practice population health management is only going to pick up speed over the next few years. As we move into this future, it is important to take new technology and current practices into account. Yes, real challenges lurk around the corner, and we can’t take our eye off of the ball, but with smart, committed people, and a developing ecosystem of powerful, value-aligned technologies and patient contact points, I like our chances