As we progress further through flu season, it is important to consider different options to prevent contracting it or how to treat it if preventive measures fail. This study looked at the effectiveness of physicians and pharmacists working together as a team to diagnose patients with flu-like symptoms and prescribe treatments to them via established collaborative practice agreements. The study found that only 11% of the 121 patients screened tested positive for the flu, but the pharmacists were able to provide timely treatment to patients with the flu and also those who only required symptomatic treatments.
The study looked at community pharmacies throughout Michigan, Minnesota, and Nebraska that offered rapid influenza diagnostic tests, brief physical assessments, then used results to determine a diagnosis for each patient and recommended treatment or prescribed medications by the collaborative practice agreement. The study concluded that pharmacists using the data collected from the evidence-based collaborative practice agreements provided a very streamlined treatment experience to patients, and could possibly overtake urgent care and emergency room visits for these types of health care problems.
This practice set-up is one way that patients who have a hard time accessing health care providers can easily receive treatment for the flu. 34.6% of the patients included in the study who came to the pharmacy to get screened for influenza didn’t have a primary care physician and would have gone to urgent care or the emergency room to seek treatment, which is much less efficient and much more expensive. This also shows how health care providers working together can streamline a patient’s health care experience significantly, and also how pharmacists can use their accessibility to provide much more health care to patients than they normally do now. If this practice became the norm for pharmaceutical care, how do you think the role and the views of pharmacists would change?
Citation: Klepser ME, Klepser DG, Dering-Anderson AM et al. Effectiveness of a pharmacist-physician collaborative program to manage influenza-like illness. J Am Pharm Assoc. 56: 14-21.