At different points in our lives, we have been attended to by pharmacists. They have either dispensed our drugs or even told us how to take them. They have also probably counseled us about our health and other things we may have needed help with health-wise.
These things are often taken for granted and this is because people do not often realize that the pharmacist can be of great help to them, most especially if they are managing a chronic condition like hypertension, diabetes, cancer, arthritis, etc. These conditions usually require continuous use of medication, hence the need for a pharmacist.
Once or twice, you must have caught someone say that pharmacists only sell drugs. This can be blamed on the fact that many pharmacists neglect their responsibility of being focused on the patient and then, they shift their concentration to being focused on the product.
Chronic diseases have been shown by statistics to account for at least 24% of deaths in Nigeria. And this has led to the need for increased provision of effective pharmaceutical care.
What is pharmaceutical care?
Pharmaceutical care is the responsible provision of drug therapy for the purpose of achieving definite outcomes that improve a patient’s quality of life. These definite outcomes include the cure of a disease; elimination or reduction of a patient’s symptoms; the arrest or slowing of a disease process etc.
It also involves the process through which a pharmacist cooperates with a patient and other professionals in designing, implementing, and monitoring a therapeutic plan that will produce specific therapeutic outcomes for the patient. Pharmaceutical care is patient centered and requires the pharmacist to work with the patient in ensuring that medication use is safe and effective.
That said, pharmaceutical care goes a long way to help patients suffering from chronic diseases.
Read Also: When that vagina itch won’t go away
Who provides pharmaceutical care?
The answer should be pretty obvious by now. The pharmacist is the health care professional who is charged with the provision of pharmaceutical care.
There are many roles which a pharmacy can fill in the provision of pharmaceutical care. They are:
- Medication Therapy Management
- Medication reconciliation
- Preventive care services
- Educational and behavioral counseling
Medication Therapy Management (MTM)
This is a service provided by pharmacists aimed at improving outcomes by helping the patient to better understand his/her health condition and the medication they should be using to manage them.
It also encompasses providing knowledge base on the disease type, disease state and the medication that would be used to treat such; ensuring that drugs are taken correctly, and side effects are minimized.
Medication therapy management can be broken down into medication therapy review, personal medication record, medication-related action plan, intervention and or referral, and documentation and follow-up.
Through medication therapy management, problems associated with drug use including: over- and under-dose, wrong drug, drug interactions, need for additional drug therapy, unnecessary drug therapy, adverse drug reaction and inappropriate compliance.
Some of the above named can lead to death if not handled properly.
This is done to prevent adverse drug events. Here, the pharmacist creates an accurate list of medications which a patient is taking. This included drug name, dosage, frequency and route of administration. He then compares this list against the physician’s admission, transfer, and/or discharge orders with the aim of providing correct medications to the patient at all transition points within the hospital.
Having medical reconciliation done has been known to prevent adverse drug events.
Preventive Care Services
This is almost self-explanatory. Preventive care services involve screenings which help detect potential or already occurring health problems early. Early preventive care services can be the key to saving your life.
Pharmacists help provide screening services like checking of your body mass index, blood pressure, blood glucose and malaria tests. Today, it is easier to have these tests done with the use of easy to understand testing kits and monitoring devices. Blood glucose level for instance can be checked with an easy to use kit.
Preventative health care is also contingent on working with patients to promote understanding, and the ability to go to a neighborhood pharmacy to receive advice and guidance can be a significantly easier prospect than scheduling an appointment with a primary care physician.
Educational and Behavioral Counseling
Pharmacists are also able to provide educational and behavioral counseling to patients who need it. This is because a pharmacy is more than a place for drug dispensation. It is also a place to receive education on various topic that may pertain to your health.
Educational and behavioral counseling involves helping a client become more compliant with a drug regimen, understand side effects of drugs, why they should use or not use it. It can also help patients understand the do’s and don’ts associated with their treatment plan.
Pharmacists have been known to also help stop risky behaviors through educational counseling. These risky behaviors include smoking, unhealthy eating habits etc.