During the COVID-19 pandemic, patients in rural areas face difficulties already present in obtaining care, including poverty, inconsistent virus information, and lack of transportation. Pharmacies serving these populations are working extra-hard to ensure the best care in their communities.
One way community pharmacies can help is with mobile clinic options. A mobile clinic can provide clinical and education services to those with transportation challenges. In addition to offering a telephone service to patients who cannot come to the pharmacy, mobile clinics can be at the disposal of area health agencies as the pandemic expands. While it may seem that patient outreach services can and will be affected by COVID-19 just as other non-health related business, pharmacies are able to adjust as more info about the virus comes online. Some pharmacies have adopted best practices including working with county health departments, senior centers, and school districts to assist the community with support, medication and needed supplies.
Requests for delivery have risen dramatically, for obvious reasons, and some pharmacies have developed a way to coordinate deliveries with patients that limits in-person contact. It is important to remember that pharmacists must be available for follow-up care to those patients. Some pharmacies are pushing state Medicaid programs to issue waiver requests for reimbursements on home delivery, which is critical due to the small margins that community pharmacies already endure.
Pharmacists must be aware that stressors like COVID-19 can mean increased demand, and that demand can lead to shortcuts or failure to adequately counsel patients, all of which can lead to complaints being filed against your license by the Illinois Department of Financial and Professional Regulation. Williams & Nickl represents pharmacists and protects their professional licenses when IDFPR comes calling. Edward W. Williams is the former Chief of Prosecutions at IDFPR, and understands that consulting to and representing professional licensees during the pandemic is critical.