American Heart Month: Tackling a Preventable Problem
As we enter American Heart Month, a time dedicated to eradicating heart disease and stroke, it’s the perfect opportunity to reflect on how pharmacists can support, and lead, the prevention of cardiovascular disease among patients in the community.
The need for an informed and available care provider has never been greater, as heart disease remains the number one killer of men and women in America. In fact, research shows the following:
- Cardiovascular disease kills one person every 37 seconds in the United States
- One in every four deaths – about 647,000 – are attributed to heart disease each year
- Someone has a heart attack every 40 seconds in the United States
As one of the nation’s most accessible healthcare providers, community pharmacists are uniquely positioned to provide the right education and services to promote better health throughout their communities. As you begin to incorporate healthy heart practices into your pharmacy workflow, consider the following steps-to-success for improved outcomes for the patients you serve.
Go big on the building blocks of heart health.
We must begin educating communities earlier, and more consistently, about the conditions that put one at risk for heart disease, such as diabetes, high blood pressure, and high cholesterol.
Consider evaluating how your state, or county, is affected by heart disease and stroke. Utilizing tools, such as the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s interactive map, can help identify the concentration of cardiovascular disease, hypertension, and a range of other heart issues to inform an effective plan of action.
Understanding the needs of your own patient community can help ensure the delivery of effective and focused preventative education. You could hold a class or host an event, visit a library, community center or school, or write an editorial in your local newspaper to spread the word.
Identify vulnerable and high risk patients.
Capitalize on opportunities to prevent serious cardiovascular events among your patient population:
- Identify patients with conditions that put them at high risk for cardiovascular issues, such as diabetes, high cholesterol, or hypertension. Did you know that PrescribeWellness’ single software solution, CompleteCare, provides the ability to filter for the appropriate condition to see your target patient list? Such ability allows for a clear roadmap to success.
- Work with physicians of Type 2 diabetes patients to ensure they are prescribed a statin – and if you’re in Idaho, explore pursuing prescribing statins independently, as your state provides pharmacists with certain prescribing authority. Plus, with CompleteCare, you can easily get in touch with the physician to document the care plan and patient encounters.
- Consider offering point-of-care testing for diabetes and cholesterol as a way to support prevention and education among those in your community looking to save time (and a visit to the doctor’s office). To start, you will need to obtain a CLIA Waiver (see here for more information). PrescribeWellness can help you streamline the entire process through collaborative practice agreement (CPA) offerings and easy documentation. Be sure to refer to your state board of pharmacy for the latest legislative requirements for point-of-care testing!
Invite patients to let you help.
As the community pharmacist, you have the distinctive opportunity to be the voice of authority, knowledge, and expertise on how patients can improve their heart health. From lifestyle education, to helping patients understand the impact of medications on their heart, you are a critical resource in the patient’s journey to healthy heart living. Let patients know you are available to help:
- Invite patients to discuss ways to lower their risk for cardiovascular issues, such as following a heart healthy diet, getting exercise, quitting smoking and managing any conditions with your help. At PrescribeWellness, we offer customized care campaigns, (text messaging programs designed to help patients manage their chronic conditions) to address these need areas and more. In CompleteCare, you can set up voice or two-way text campaigns to target groups with a message based on their unique needs. You can also document any encounters you have with patients for nutrition and lifestyle counseling, as well as other preventive services such as blood pressure screenings.
- Make patients aware that you offer Medication Synchronization, or Med Sync (if you don’t currently offer these programs – let’s talk!), which allows for simple aggregated pickup of all medications, including blood pressure, cholesterol, and diabetes medications.
During this American Heart Month, it is important to know that we all play a part in promoting healthy living for the prevention of heart disease. Community pharmacists, however, have an incredible opportunity to leverage patient relationships, medication expertise, and enhanced clinical services to help patients build healthy habits for a healthy heart.
Get in touch with us today to learn more about how PrescribeWellness’ patient-centric solutions can help you capitalize on engagement opportunities for better outcomes.
Fryar CD, Chen T-C, Li X. Prevalence of uncontrolled risk factors for cardiovascular disease: United States, 1999–2010, NCHS data brief, no. 103. Hyattsville, MD: National Center for Health Statistics; 2012, https://www.cdc.gov/nchs/data/databriefs/db103.pdf.
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Heart Disease: It Can Happen at Any Age, https://www.cdc.gov/features/heartmonth/index.html.