In a new article in Men's Health magazine, pharmacists are listed among a number of other health and wellness professionals dubbed "health detectives," and seeing them about certain health problems is described as an alternative to seeing the doctor.
To regular readers of DSN, the idea of pharmacists as the face of neighborhood health care or physician extender is old news. But it's still a relatively new concept to the public at large, and that's why the Men's Health article is such a big deal and why it got a response from National Association of Chain Drug Stores' president and CEO Steven Anderson.
Groups like the NACDS and National Community Pharmacists Association have been pushing pharmacists as a source of health information for a long time now. In recent years, NACDS Foundation president Kathleen Jaeger has become an evangelist for the idea of pharmacy as the most accessible and visible part of the healthcare system, appearing in national media to tout the benefits of pharmacy.
Another significant thing about the article is that it's directed toward men. Studies have shown for years that men visit the doctor less frequently than women, for reasons ranging from fear of doctors to male pride or a sense that it isn't needed. This can allow health problems to go undiagnosed and get worse if they're not detected early. For that reason, the ability of pharmacists to offer services like blood-pressure screening, routine vaccinations and general healthcare information is especially important.
In addition to some of the services traditionally associated with physicians, pharmacists also provide many unique services crucial to the proper functioning of the healthcare system, including medication therapy management and others to ensure that patients take their drugs the way they're supposed to. In this capacity, they further serve an important role in extending the physician's reach and ensuring that patients receive the care they need.