NEWAYGO, Mich. — Joining the ranks of Hy-Vee and Meijer, HomeTown Pharmacy, which is based here in Newaygo, has announced that it is now offering free flu and strep throat testing as part of a collaborative patient care study.
Thirteen statewide HomeTown Pharmacy locations are now offering on-site testing and medications for treatment of influenza and strep throat as part of a study with the University of Nebraska Medical Center College of Pharmacy and Ferris State University in a pilot project to determine the cost-effectiveness and patient acceptance of rapid diagnostic testing in community retail pharmacies.
Select HomeTown pharmacists have been certificate-trained in a program developed by professors from each university conducting the study and sponsored by the Michigan Pharmacists Association. Eligible patients will be tested for either influenza or strep throat by a trained pharmacist, at the pharmacy, using noninvasive and FDA-cleared rapid diagnostic tests.
In the event of a positive test, the pharmacist is able to dispense the appropriate prescription medication to treat the condition, based on protocol developed by the study’s physicians. This protocol eliminates the need for the patient to schedule and attend an office visit, and allows them to begin treatment immediately.
“We are not trying to compete with physician-based practices, as we are still referring the sickest of patients to their local physicians, but we do feel that our pharmacists can provide quality care that is accessible and more convenient to patients with possible flu or strep throat. We envision that, in the future, we will expand service provision, which will be attractive to patients of all ages, particularly working parents. Instead of taking time off from work for an office visit, or making an expensive emergency room visit, parents could bring their children to our pharmacies and receive a quick test to determine if their child’s illness is the flu or strep throat,” stated Jeff Stull, pharmacy development manager and project coordinator for HomeTown Pharmacy.
The testing and diagnostic services are free through the pilot project year, and will continue to be available beyond the study (ends in August). At that time the services will be available as a fee-for-service, but exact costs have yet to be determined. After August, HomeTown Pharmacy is planning to expand services to include testing for children in addition to adults, as well as including additional pharmacy locations throughout the state.
As reported by Drug Store News, Hy-Vee stores in Omaha and Papillion are among 60 sites throughout three states that will have pharmacists trained to administer these tests. Also collaborating with Ferris State University and the University of Nebraska Medical Center College of Pharmacy is Meijer, which recently announced that its pharmacy locations in Michigan would be participating in the study.