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Healthy Living Through Environment, Policy and Improved Clinical Care (EPICC) Program

Pharmacists

Pharmacists are some of the most accessible healthcare professionals. When it comes to helping patients manage chronic diseases pharmacists have an important part to play. They are the medication experts. Pharmacists can help patients find the right medication for them. This is challenging, especially when patients have many chronic conditions. Pharmacists can work with patients to understand their disease and the importance of taking their medications. You can read more about the evidence behind expanding the role pharmacists play.

The Utah Department of Health is working to make sure pharmacists are part of the healthcare team in the following ways:

Pharmacy Environmental Scan. EPICC staff has interviewed seventeen pharmacist and health plan representatives. A summary of the findings from these interviews is available in the UDOH Environmental Scan of Clinical Pharmacy Report (PDF). We are currently working on a survey of Utah Pharmacists. Findings from the survey will be available here in late Fall.

Pharmacy – to – Treat Program. EPICC is working with health systems to “Pharmacy to Treat” projects. Pharmacists provide clinical services to patients with chronic conditions. The pharmacist might follow up with patients who are struggling to manage their high blood pressure. They can work with the patient to find a medication that is a better fit for them. Pharmacists adjust medications and order lab tests based on a plan they develop in partnership with the physician and patient.

This is the second year of the Pharmacist to Treat project. The first year saw impressive results. UDOH worked with Select Health. A pharmacist worked with one clinic to identify patients with high blood pressure who were having trouble managing their condition. Forty patients participated in the project the first year. At the end of the year 82% of them were in control of their blood pressure. They were able to get their blood pressure under control after an average of only 1.7 contacts with a clinical pharmacist. The pharmacist also reinforced lifestyle changes like healthy eating and bring physically active.

Eleven patients reported making lifestyle changes to better manage their blood pressure.

This year UDOH is working with two new health systems: the University of Utah and Utah Navajo Health System, to pilot Pharmacist to Treat projects. The University of Utah Sugarhouse Health Center and Madsen Clinic are piloting a "population based" approach to pharmacy care. Currently a primary care provider needs to refer a patient to a pharmacist. This only works if the patient is seeing their primary care provider. Instead of waiting for a referral the University of Utah will identify patients who could benefit from pharmacist care. The pharmacist proactively follows up with these patients.

Utah Navajo Health System will target patients who are struggling to manage their diabetes. A pharmacist will follow up with these patients and work with them to find a medication combination that helps them to manage their condition.

Pharmacy Referral Policy – EPICC is soliciting proposals from a large pharmacy chain to develop and implement a sustainable referral policy for the Utah Arthritis Program's self-management workshops offered throughout Utah.