West Virginia’s Pharmacists: Improving People’s Health

According to data developed through collaboration between the American Pharmacists Association (APhA) and the National Association of State Pharmacy Associations (NASPA) with support by the Community Pharmacy Foundation, West Virginians spend $2,139,800,000 annually on prescription medications.

By 2020 there will be an estimated shortage of 20,400 primary care physicians in the United States  Even if nurse practitioners and physician assistants are fully utilized, patient needs will not fully be met.

West Virginia has a shortage of physicians.  The more than 2,360 highly trained West Virginia pharmacists are ready to bridge the gap by providing chronic disease management and wellness and preventive services.

There are 1.8 million people in West Virginia.  75% of the physicians are needed to deliver care.  2,360 pharmacists are ready to help.

Diabetes is a complex condition that is often managed by multiple medications.  Pharmacists can optimize care and help patients understand their medications and their condition in order to improve outcomes and avoid complications.

For patients with uncontrolled high blood pressure, waiting even two months to optimize medications increases the risk of complications, including hospitalization. Pharmacists are highly accessible members of the care team who significantly improve blood pressure control and can provide timely follow-up and monitoring to improve outcomes.

Immunization rates have continued to increase since pharmacists began vaccinating for influenza.  Almost 50% of West Virginians were vaccinated for the flu.

27% of people in West Virginia smoke cigarettes.  Smoking causes nearly 1 of every 5 deaths in the United States every year.  Pharmacists are qualified and capable of providing smoking cessation counseling.

50% of people with chronic diseases do not take their medicines correctly.  Medications are critical for the treatment of chronic conditions.  Pharmacists can help patients use their medications safely and effectively.

Patients are three times more likely to stay out of the hospital when pharmacists provide clinical services after discharge.

Pharmacists in Ohio delivered a 4.4:1 return on investment when providing medication therapy management services to Medicaid patients.  This saved Ohio Medicaid $4.40 per $1 spent on pharmacists’s services.  West Virginia pharmacists could do this too!

Investing in pharmacists’s services optimizes the use of those prescription medications.  Decades of research have proven the value of including pharmacists on healthcare teams.  Improved health outcomes, lower costs, and increased access to care could be a reality for West Virginia residents if pharmacists were fully empowered to serve as patient care providers.