Panelists cite promise of in-store testing

Cheryl Miller and John Tamerius of Quidel, Karen Mankowski of Meijer, Michael Klepser of Ferris State and Alex Adams of NACDS, pictured above, discuss point-of-care screening in the pharmacy.

BOSTON — With diabetes and other diseases at epidemic levels, the need for more pharmacies to step up and offer accessible, convenient patient screening for a variety of serious and even life-threatening conditions is clear, a panel of pharmacists asserted at Monday’s “Convenient Care — Point of Care Testing in the Pharmacy” session. So, too, is the opportunity to drive new business to the pharmacy through point-of-care testing services, panelists agreed.

Panelists included Michael Klepser, professor of pharmacy practice with Ferris State University in Michigan; Karen Mankowski, VP pharmacy retail operations at Meijer; John Tamerius, SVP clinical and regulatory affairs for Quidel Corp.; and Cheryl Miller, Quidel’s director of strategic operations. The event was moderated by Alex Adams, NACDS VP pharmacy programs.

Point-of-care screening of patients at the pharmacy is rapidly gaining validity among patients and other health professionals, including doctors, as the need for more immediate and responsive health and preventive care services grows.

To advance the concept, Ferris State collaborated with Meijer on a pilot project funded by the National Association of Chain Drug Stores Foundation. Under the program, Meijer offered free testing for influenza and strep throat at 12 of its stores. Six of those stores were set up as collaborative practice sites integrated with a local physician.

The results showed real benefits both for patients and participating pharmacies, Mankowski said. Not only did pharmacists catch undiagnosed conditions among some patients, but “1-in-3 patients who came into the test program did not have a primary care physician,” she said.

Although there was “some apprehension” among some pharmacists and “some push back” from a few local doctors, Mankowski said resistance melted away as the value of point-of-care pharmacy-based health screenings became clear. “We view point-of-care testing as a very viable model,” she said.

Klepser added, “This is going to be bigger than immunizations” for retail pharmacy. “Pharmacists are essentially going to be the GPs (general practitioners) of the future.”

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