“We've gone after the chronic care patients,” Bryant said. “These are the folks that are coming through my doors and the doors of pharmacies that are getting, you know, five, six, eight, ten prescriptions filled every month. And, of course, these are the diabetic patients, the cardiovascular patients, the patients with COPD, asthma.” His goal is to transform his pharmacy into a wellness center, where the pharmacy staff works with patients over time to help them improve their health.
In pursuit of this goal, Bryant and other pharmacists have begun offering free patient education. “What I've decided to do is to take the pharmacists with all their clinical knowledge, which has basically just been in a hospital setting, and bring it to a retail setting,” he said. “We've actually taken a step into creating two web-based programs as well, to help people start doing a diabetes class.” One of these programs offers resources and a curriculum that other pharmacists can use to craft their own diabetes classes.
Bryant feels that pharmacists can help pick up the slack when increasingly overwhelmed doctors simply don't have the time or resources to give patients the education they need. “Physicians’ offices are having to use mid-levels—physicians' assistants or nurse practitioners—to handle the volume they need to be profitable,” he said. “For the diabetic patient, we offer the educational classes once a month at no charge. Now we're developing a heart class for our cardiovascular patients. I think this is the future of pharmacy.”
Barney's Pharmacy took things a step further four years ago by establishing a family practice clinic. “We started out with just a PA, and now four years later we have two full-time physicians, a full-time PA and a part-time PA, and we're fixing to bring on a full time nurse practitioner. We see probably 50 or 60 patients a day in our clinic,” Bryant said. “Also, I'm bringing on two pharmacy residents that will be working with us for a year, developing new programs, building on what we've already done by reaching out into the community and using their clinical skills in the retail setting.”
This growth is indicative of an increasing public need for these types of services. It may be that the Barney’s Pharmacy model for patient care could be an important key in U.S. efforts to make its healthcare system efficient, economical and effective.
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