UMN Expert: Loss of local pharmacies in rural U.S.
From 2003-2018, independently-owned rural pharmacies declined approximately 16 percent according to data from the National Council for Prescription Drug Programs. The closing of rural pharmacies affects vulnerable demographics, such as the elderly and those suffering from chronic illnesses—leading to poorer health outcomes for individuals and their communities. This is because independently-owned pharmacies are more likely to be a sole source of pharmaceutical services.
University of Minnesota College of Pharmacy expert Dr. Michael Swanoski is available to comment on opportunities for local pharmacists to reverse the downward trend.
“Patients who receive their care at independent pharmacies often develop more trusting relationships with their pharmacist and rely on them to a greater extent compared to a large chain pharmacy. Pharmacists practicing in independent pharmacies may have more time to spend with patients, not only in providing medication education and advice, but also helping them navigate insurance challenges or the necessity to see their physician.
“Independent pharmacies must explore opportunities for expanding the number of patients they serve as well as the services they provide. There may be opportunities to provide medications for patients living in nursing homes or assisted living facilities. Expanding services at the pharmacy to include immunization administration, comprehensive medication management, and collaborative practice agreements with medical providers that allow pharmacists to manage chronic conditions such as hypertension and diabetes should be considered.”
Michael Swanoski, PharmD, BCGP, FASCP, is a senior associate dean and associate professor at the Department of Pharmacy Practice and Pharmaceutical Sciences in the College of Pharmacy, Duluth. His scholarly focus is population health using epidemiological research and analytical methods. He is a fellow of the American Society of Consultant Pharmacists and is a Certified Geriatric Pharmacist.
Laurie Fosnacht, administrative assistant
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