Pharmacists key players in community–clinical linkages

Today’s Perspective

Many social elements beyond the clinical care people receive influence their individual health and the health of the community in which they live. Factors such as a person’s living environment, type of job and income, transportation, and having food can play an important role in whether our health care delivery is successful. 

Pharmacists are trained to focus on the medications a patient is taking and how the medications are affecting the patient’s condition(s). Are the medications appropriate, safe, and effective, and is the patient adhering to them? As pharmacists, how often do we think outside the box of the clinical care we provide to identify other social factors that could be affecting the medication and health outcomes of the patients we serve? And if we do identify problems, how do we access resources in the community to help? Likewise, how do we leverage community partnerships to assist patients in need?

CDC is championing efforts to form community–clinical linkages to improve the health of communities. These linkages between community organizations and clinical practices target enhanced coordination, resource sharing, and referral and tracking systems to improve the management of chronic conditions. CDC recognizes pharmacists as key players in these efforts.

As highlighted in this month’s Innovations article on pages 42–45, the CDC National Center for Chronic Disease Prevention and Health Promotion is funding state health departments to create community–clinical linkages for high-risk individuals with or at high risk for chronic disease. Health department programs must focus on making sure high-risk individuals have access to community resources and support to prevent, delay, or manage their conditions. The grants specifically mention pharmacists in the strategies to consider in implementing the programs. State health departments in Utah, Colorado, Ohio, and 20 other states are linking pharmacists to medication therapy management and hypertension and diabetes programs. 

CDC is a very strong supporter of pharmacy and has created many resources highlighting pharmacists on topics such as chronic disease management, vaccines, antibiotic stewardship, and collaborative practice agreements. Visit the CDC website and search “pharmacist” to access these valuable resources. 

Take advantage of opportunities to be a clinical link within your community, and enjoy your November Pharmacy Today!