New interactive map promotes access to pharmacy services
Dima M. Qato, PharmD, MPH, PhD, regards pharmacy access as a human rights issue. Qato, an associate professor at the School of Pharmacy at the University of Southern California (USC) and a senior fellow at the USC Leonard D. Schaeffer Center for Health Policy & Economics, developed an interactive, nationwide mapping tool that reveals the presence of “pharmacy deserts” around the country.
The map identifies nearly 1 in 4 neighborhoods as being areas with pharmacy shortages.
“By collaborating, we have been able to attack the problem on a national scale using faster spatial computation and spatial analysis to better understand geographic contexts, like urban versus rural areas,” said Robert Vos, PhD, in a news release. Vos is an associate professor of spatial sciences with the USC Spatial Sciences Institute who helped build the tool.
The map defines a pharmacy shortage area as one where the distance to a pharmacy is greater than 10 miles in a rural area, 2 miles in a suburban area, 1 mile in an urban area, and 0.5 miles in neighborhoods where its residents have low income and low vehicle ownership.
Qato hopes the mapping tool will inform federal and state policy changes that enhance health equity.
“In terms of the equitable implementation of federal and state policies, it’s important to ensure that local pharmacies are actually stocking essential medicines and offering essential services they are authorized to provide,” Qato said in the news statement.