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COPD Care Improves with the Help of Pharmacists

  • January 27, 2016
  • RPh on the Go

copd_treatment_pharmacy_care_managementPharmacists who are able to help their patients manage chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) say the condition is another therapeutic niche for pharmacists and provides another avenue for the improvement of patient care.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) COPD is a “group of diseases that cause blockage of the airflow and breathing related problems.” COPD can include certain cases of asthma, emphysema, and chronic bronchitis. Data from 2011 shows that 6.3% of adults in the United States have diagnosed COPD.

Pharmacists have an extensive knowledge and background with medication, so it’s a great area to work in that allows pharmacists to demonstrate to the healthcare professional community as a whole the importance of the role they play in patient care.

We have seen pharmacists working closely with doctors in a variety of settings to treat and manage conditions such multiple myeloma and diabetes. COPD is another condition where this is particularly helpful, and it’s working to improve patient care quality and efficiency.

Danny Fu, the ambulatory care pharmacy supervisor for chronic care management pharmacy services at Carolinas HealthCare System Northeast in Concord, North Carolina created a collaborative COPD clinic for his residency project. The clinic followed the care model used in other chronic disease clinics. It involved bringing in patients to help educate them, review medications, optimize therapy, and make sure they were using their inhalers correctly.

Though Fu completed the residency, COPD patients still go to the clinic to receive care from a pharmacist. Though the clinic hasn’t formally examined any data outcomes, Fu considers the program a success, as patients report satisfaction, and doctors are happy with the support. Care seems to be improving, and efficiency certain has. He hopes that other healthcare providers nationwide will consider adopting a similar collaborative program with comprehensive pharmacy services.

According to a study of COPD patients in Texas, pharmacists’ services provided in an inpatient setting have helped improve medication adherence which reduced readmission rates. By having pharmacists available to work with the doctors in discharge counseling, patients were able to continue using, rather than throwing away, the inhaler they received during their hospital visit.

Though the study is used in an inpatient setting, it does demonstrate the benefit of having a collaborative effort between pharmacists and doctors. COPD is just one of many chronic conditions where having a pharmacy led team could prove helpful to improving the quality and efficiency of patient care.

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