Eric Grocott, Salem Pharmacy and Beth Grocott, Great Plains Quality Innovation Network

Whether  swinging through the drive-through or stopping by the pharmacy counter, individuals with prescriptions for managing a chronic health issue are in regular contact with their pharmacist.  Medication consumers rely on these healthcare professionals to answer questions about dosages, side effects and interactions between prescriptions.

Great Plains Quality Innovation Network (QIN) recognizes pharmacies are a central healthcare service for individuals at various phases of care from acute to maintenance.  Their role is vital to chronic disease self-management, antibiotic stewardship and preventing adverse drug events.

Recently, over 30 pharmacies across South Dakota received a toolkit with resources to increase awareness and promote the value of health prevention services.  The South Dakota Department of Health, Office of Chronic Disease Prevention and Health Promotion developed the original toolkits and partnered with Great Plains QIN to provide additional content and handle the distribution.

“Each toolkit included an immunization card, sepsis magnet, and information on diabetes management,” explained Beth Grocott, RN, program manager for Great Plains QIN.  “It was a great opportunity get direct feedback with pharmacists about conversations they have with consumers on a daily basis.”

The American Diabetes Association reports one in three Americans is at risk for becoming part of the nearly 10 percent of the population diagnosed with type 2 diabetes: one of several chronic health conditions requiring routine medication and monitoring.  With the increasing number of diagnosed or at-risk individuals, students from the South Dakota State University pharmacy program are strengthening their diabetic counseling skills through a coursework assignment.

Grocott provided details, “Each student will identify ten patients diagnosed with diabetes and another ten who are either prediabetes or at risk for developing diabetes.  As they provide education and appropriate referrals, they will record which resources and tools were most useful.”

Information on influenza and pneumococcal vaccination are among the resources provided due to the higher risk of complication for individuals with chronic health conditions.  According to the Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance System (BRFSS) for immunization, South Dakota has historically high immunization rates.  In 2016 influenza rates dropped significantly from a steady 71 percent to 63 percent in one year.

While influenza immunizations decreased, BRFSS results showed an increase from 65 percent in 2013 to 76 percent in 2016 for pneumococcal immunization.  This increase earned South Dakota recognition at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s National Immunization Conference held on May 18 in Atlanta, GA.

Considering the high rate of individuals catching the virus in the recent flu season, decreased immunization rates seems to highlight the value of influenza and pneumococcal vaccination for preventing complications and saving lives, especially for those with a chronic health concern.