How Your Pharmacist Can Help You With Your Chronic Condition

Partner with your pharmacy for better care

In This Article

If you have a chronic condition, you are not alone. As many as 6 in 10 adults have a chronic disease and 4 in 10 have at least two. Managing your condition may be challenging at times, but there is always someone available to help. Your local pharmacists, like those at CVS Pharmacy, for example, are readily accessible and does far more than fill prescription medications.

Managing Your Medication Regimen

According to the latest statistics, 46 percent of Americans take prescription medications every year . Your pharmacist can help you get on the best medication regimen while also monitoring you for symptoms.

  • Medication Adherence: Your pharmacist can monitor whether or not you are taking your medications appropriately based on when you fill them. Fill too early and you may be overusing them; fill them too late and you could be missing out on necessary treatment. They can reach out to you if to see if there are any concerns with your regimen and offer ways to help.
  • Medical Education: Your pharmacist is a medically-trained professional. Not only can they provide information regarding the medications you take, e.g. possible drug-drug interactions or side effects, they can provide education regarding your medical condition too.
  • Medication Synchronization: If you have a chronic condition, you may take multiple medications. Your pharmacist can adjust your refill schedule so they can be filled at the same time whenever possible. This will decrease the number of trips you need to make to the pharmacy. Some pharmacies, like CVS, offer personalized prescription schedules, too.
  • Side Effect and Symptom Monitoring: Your pharmacist can review any symptoms you are having and let you know if they could be caused by your medications. They can then make recommendations that may make those symptoms more tolerable; e.g., change the time of day a certain medication is taken.

Decreasing the Cost of Chronic Conditions

The United States spent $1.1 trillion on direct care for chronic conditions in 2016. When indirect costs are also taken into consideration, e.g., absenteeism from work and decreased productivity, those costs increased to $3.7 trillion, nearly a fifth of the U.S. gross domestic product (GDP).

If anyone knows how expensive medications are, it is your pharmacist. They can give you tips and tricks for decreasing your out-of-pocket costs by:

  • Changing to Generic Medications: Generic medications are generally less expensive than brand-name medications. Your pharmacist may be able to recommend medications that may be more cost-effective.
  • Manufacturer Drug Coupons: Your pharmacist may be able to point out discounts offered directly by pharmaceutical companies for any medications you take. Keep in mind, you cannot use these coupons if you also use Medicare Part D.
  • Medicare Part D options: During Open Enrollment season (October 15 - December 7), your pharmacist can help you navigate Medicare to choose a Medicare Part D plan that will cover all the medications you take and can save you money.
  • Prescription Assistance Programs: If you are unable to afford your medications, there may be patient assistance programs to help cut costs. Your pharmacist may refer you to Patient Assistance Programs (PAP). These may be run by a pharmaceutical company but there are also programs run by the states, State Pharmaceutical Assistance Program (SPAP).

Improving Clinical Outcomes

Pharmacist-led interventions have been shown to improve clinical outcomes for a number of chronic conditions, including but not limited to the following.

Cancer

The American Cancer Society reported that nearly 17 million people were living with a cancer diagnosis (past or present) as of January 1, 2019. They estimate there will be 1.8 million new cancer diagnoses in 2020.

How Your Pharmacist Can Help

Cancer medications can have unpleasant side effects, making people less likely to adhere to treatment, but counseling with a pharmacist can help.

A 2017 systematic review shows that counseling with a pharmacist about how to manage those side effects helps to improve medication compliance and decreases symptoms like nausea and vomiting.

Depression

According to the latest statistics from the National Institute of Mental Health, 2.3 million adolescents and 17.3 million adults had a severe major depressive episode in 2017.

How Your Pharmacist Can Help

Your pharmacist can observe your mood when you arrive at the pharmacy and ask about depressive symptoms. They can have you complete depression questionnaires and can offer advice on stress management techniques and lifestyle modifications that promote wellness.

A 2018 systemic review noted that one-on-one counseling with a pharmacist increased adherence to antidepressant therapy and could also improve symptoms.

Diabetes

The National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases reported that 30.3 million American adults had diabetes and 84.1 million had prediabetes in 2017. That number is expected to be even higher today.

How Your Pharmacist Can Help

Glucometers help you measure your blood sugar at home. Your pharmacist can show you how to use these devices and can show you which ones are free of charge or are otherwise covered by your insurance. They can also educate you about a variety of medications used to treat diabetes, including insulin. When it comes to insulin, they can also show you how to correctly draw up your dose and safely administer it.

Let's not forget lifestyle modifications. From diet to exercise, they can counsel you on everyday changes that can help you control your blood sugar and decrease your risk for diabetic complications.

A 2018 systematic review showed that pharmacist interventions like these decreased hemoglobin A1C levels, tightened blood pressure control, optimized lipid levels (lowered LDL (bad) cholesterol, increased HDL (good) cholesterol, and decreased triglycerides), improved BMI, and boosted medication adherence.

Hypertension

The National Center for Health Statistics reports that approximately a third of American adults have high blood pressure.

How Your Pharmacist Can Help

Many pharmacies have equipment on-site to check your blood pressure. A pharmacist can also check your home blood pressure machine to assure you are using it correctly and can even calibrate your device against their own machine, and provide other education.

A 2014 systematic review shows that blood pressures improved when pharmacists provided education on drug treatment and counseled regarding lifestyle measures that can help to decrease high blood pressure.

A Word From Verywell

Partnering with your local pharmacist may help you better understand your chronic condition, guide you toward better health outcomes, and decrease how much you spend out of pocket. Better yet, your pharmacist is readily available and you don't even need an appointment. Feel free to ask questions. They are there to support you on your healthcare journey.

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Article Sources
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