After months of being stuck in neutral (and at times reverse), it’s quite refreshing to see our country enter a new phase of the COVID-19 pandemic: the reopening of America. As states start to give their local economies the green light to reopen, the White House Coronavirus Task Force has released its blueprint for state testing plans and rapid response programs designed to ensure community health while limiting future outbreaks. The blueprint calls for greater collaboration and coordination between the private sector and government – both at the state and federal levels – and one of the keys to executing a successful national strategy: community pharmacy.
By serving communities to expand access to care during an unprecedented time, pharmacies and pharmacists have only further cemented their status as essential healthcare providers. States should deploy pharmacies and pharmacists to their fullest extent to contain and defeat the COVID-19 pandemic and ensure the health of communities and the health of our nation. And Washington needs no convincing – just ask Alex Azar, the Health and Human Services Secretary, who recently publicly recognized the tremendous value of pharmacists for “playing a vital role in delivering convenient access to important public health services and information.”1
This view underscores Washington’s support for the role pharmacy plays in the COVID-19 national response plan along with its interest in expanding it.
The National Association of Chain Drug Stores (NACDS) has outlined its recommendations for reopening America, which identifies community pharmacies as key to the revitalization and recovery of communities.2 Echoing the federal government’s sentiment, NACDS believes that pharmacies must remain a focal point of the pandemic response strategy, as well as all future suppression initiatives. Additionally, NACDS is urging a partnership between pharmacies, and state and federal governments, to accomplish the following three core objectives:
Maximize rapid Covid-19 testing operations across all platforms and venues
This initiative focuses on modernizing public health infrastructures by removing barriers between patients and pharmacies. Through a deeper connection to communities, patients have more accessibility to COVID-19 testing, treatment, and future vaccines. Increased access to care is critical, and pharmacies are well positioned to impart positive impact, especially in socio-economically challenged and medically neglected communities.
Support public health surveillance and related contact tracing efforts
An effective pandemic mitigation strategy centers on the sharing of timely and accurate information. As the nation’s most accessible healthcare provider, pharmacies are equipped to participate in contact tracing, the act of containment through patient awareness. In collaboration with state and federal governments, a clearer picture of community health can be utilized to execute more effective surveillance, containment, and treatment.
Prepare now: accelerate access to forthcoming COVID-19 vaccines and treatments
As the race to develop a COVID-19 vaccine continues on, health officials and pharmacies can collaborate now to build infrastructure for successful COVID-19 identification and prevention measures, such as vaccinations and testing. As a leading provider of patient relationship management solutions, PrescribeWellness remains at the ready to support pharmacies in their pursuit for better health through community connection.
PrescribeWellness – a partner in care
In addition to educational and engagement resources, such as our Community Pharmacy Webinar Series, or optimized patient communications – namely, a new pharmacy reopening campaign to alert patients of updated store status – PrescribeWellness has also secured authorized and reliable COVID-19 testing kits for our community pharmacy partners. Interested pharmacies can visit our online order form, in addition to our dedicated resource page, to begin effective administration of COVID-19 community care.