October marks American Pharmacists Month, an important opportunity to recognize the profound contribution of dedicated pharmacists who work on the frontlines of U.S. healthcare on a daily basis.
Pharmacists are among the most accessible, trusted healthcare providers in their communities, and in some cases, the lifeblood of their neighborhoods. While these professionals provide essential support for a range of health conditions, the role of pharmacists has never been more important, and appreciated, than during the COVID-19 response.
Every day, the pharmaceutical distribution members of HDA have the opportunity to serve as critical partners to pharmacists in their role as counselors, educators and advocates to patients. In addition to helping ensure more than 10 million prescription medicines, healthcare products and supplies make their way to dispensers, HDA members are committed to providing logistics expertise, administrative services, and support that ultimately enables pharmacists and providers to spend more time caring for their patients. We are proud to support their important work improving patients’ health and wellness in their local communities.
Supporting Independent Pharmacists Across the Country
While HDA’s members have significant relationships with hospitals, long-term care organizations, large pharmacy chains and clinics, it is notable that distributors also support nearly 22,000 independent pharmacists with core and value-added services.
Keeping small, independent pharmacies viable increases patient access to millions of $60 million–$120 million cost burden placed on those patients.particularly in rural areas where fewer pharmacy options exist. Estimates indicate that for every one-mile increase in the average distance patients must travel to a rural independent pharmacy, there is an additional
Many of the independent community pharmacies in the U.S. also voluntarily outsource administrative services to a Pharmacy Services Administrative Organization (PSAO). These organizations, operated by distributors, help independent pharmacists interact with healthcare insurers and pharmacy benefit managers, allowing pharmacists to spend more time with patients at the pharmacy counter.
Helping Pharmacists Vaccinate America
Pharmacists have been instrumental in vaccinating eligible Americans against COVID-19, particularly so in rural areas and underserved communities, where their facility may be the only one immediately accessible for COVID-19 vaccines.
The nation’s response to COVID-19 and the country’s historic vaccination campaign took a positive turn once the pharmacy community was fully engaged earlier this year, and distributors were proud to help facilitate their efforts. For example, AmerisourceBergen, Cardinal Health and McKesson serve as network administrators in the Federal Retail Pharmacy Program for COVID-19 Vaccination.
As of October, nearly 141 million doses have been administered through the program. Given the initiative’s focus on vulnerable populations, this work aims to reach individuals who are at higher risk of worse health outcomes if infected with COVID-19 — and who may be more hesitant to be vaccinated.
Empowering Pharmacists to Provide Access to Affordable Patient Care
With the support of the distribution industry, pharmacies navigate change, optimize business performance, implement the latest technology and learn about new industry trends. In turn, pharmacists lend invaluable guidance to their patients and advocate on their behalf, improving patient outcomes, enhancing efficiency and reducing the cost of care. But pharmacists should be be tapped to do even more, including prescribing basic medications, conducting and ordering diagnostic tests, counseling patients and initiating treatment, where appropriate.
Despite pharmacists’ role as an integral part of the U.S. healthcare system and their work on the frontlines in our nation’s fight against COVID-19, in many states, pharmacists are legally limited when it comes to assessing, prescribing and administering medications. That’s why the distribution industry strongly supports granting pharmacists provider status, which will immediately help relieve a healthcare system that is currently strained for resources.
Thanking Pharmacists — Today and Every Day
While October marks a special occasion to appreciate the tireless work of our nation’s pharmacists, the distribution industry strives to recognize and support these vital healthcare providers each and every day.
For more information about our industry’s work with pharmacy partners, visit HealthDelivered.com/pharmacies-and-providers.
ABOUT THE HEALTHCARE DISTRIBUTION ALLIANCE
The Healthcare Distribution Alliance (HDA) represents primary pharmaceutical distributors — the vital link between the nation’s pharmaceutical manufacturers and pharmacies, hospitals, long-term care facilities, clinics and others nationwide. Since 1876, HDA has helped members navigate regulations and innovations to get the right medicines to the right patients at the right time, safely and efficiently. The HDA Research Foundation, HDA’s nonprofit charitable foundation, serves the healthcare industry by providing research and education focused on priority healthcare supply chain issues.