NYT board: Pharmacists, retail clinics, NPs can address gaps in care

Times editorial addresses nation's physician shortage

NEW YORK — What pharmacy lobbying groups and Drug Store News have been saying for a while has reached the mainstream.

The New York Times published an editorial over the weekend recommending that the country address its shortage of primary care doctors by relying more on other healthcare actors — such as pharmacists, nurse practitioners and patients themselves — as well as physician assistants and members of the community.

This isn't news to the industry: the National Association of Chain Drug Stores and other pharmacy groups have been pushing this for years, and NACDS Foundation president Kathleen Jaeger has kept busy writing op-eds in national publications like USA Today and appearing in the news media to promote the value of retail pharmacy. Now the New York Times editorial board is saying the same thing.

The NACDS heralded the editorial's publication.

"This New York Times editorial adds to the increasing recognition that face-to-face, pharmacist-provided services can complement the vital role of physicians in a team-based approach to patient health,” NACDS president and CEO Steven Anderson said.  “Doctors, pharmacists and other partners in emerging healthcare models each provide tremendous expertise and advantages. Their unique strengths and collaboration among them can benefit the patient and can help to advance the nation’s approach to healthcare delivery.”

In particular, the editorial cited a report by the chief pharmacist of the United States Public Health Service saying pharmacists are "remarkably underutilized" in terms of their potential to do things like educate members of the community, as well as their ability to start, stop and adjust medications. The retail clinic operations of Walgreens and CVS got a nod from the editors as well.

It likewise isn't news to the millions of people who have received vaccinations from their local pharmacists or basic care at a retail clinic. But now, a major national newspaper is recognizing the value of the ways that health care is becoming more accessible, and that's a clear indication that pharmacy retailers' message — that their stores and retail clinics are destinations for health care — is sinking in with the general public.

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