Walgreens partners with UCSF Medical Center and School of Pharmacy on cutting-edge pharmacy

SAN FRANCISCO — UC-San Francisco and Walgreens on Tuesday opened a Walgreens store on the UCSF campus that aims to improve medication safety, decrease healthcare costs and help patients use medicines more effectively by offering pharmacist-based patient care and expanded health-and-wellness services to the community. A joint effort among Walgreens, the UCSF School of Pharmacy and UCSF Medical Center, “Walgreens at UCSF” also will explore new models for improving overall patient care.

“'Walgreens at UCSF' is an ideal environment for our pharmacists to work with UCSF Medical Center and School of Pharmacy faculty to further innovate in health care while providing greater access to services for the surrounding community,” said Joel Wright, Walgreens divisional VP specialty solutions group. “At Walgreens, we are very pleased to share and develop best practices with UCSF pharmacists and pharmacy students, which further our commitment to help people get, stay and live well.” 

“Modern medicine has transformed many diseases from urgent, life-threatening conditions into chronic illnesses that can be managed with the right medications, but that means more and more patients are juggling multiple prescriptions with complex instructions,” said Joseph Guglielmo, dean of the UCSF School of Pharmacy. “And, in many instances, this complicated medication list is inaccurate and incomplete. This collaboration aims to transform the practice of community pharmacies to enable pharmacists to do what they’re trained to do, which is help patients manage their health with the right medications and understand how to take them correctly.”

The collaboration builds upon Walgreens’ leadership in pioneering new approaches to pharmacy care, as well as UCSF’s long history of collaboration in teaching, research and patient care between the School of Pharmacy and UCSF Medical Center, which together piloted the first hospital-based clinical pharmacy program in the nation, in the 1960s.

The project comes at a time when an estimated 82% of Americans use daily medications to manage their health and 29% take five or more medications, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Yet the National Consumers League reports that three of every four Americans say they do not always take their medications as directed, and an estimated one-third of all patients do not fill their prescriptions. The result is a high rate of both medication errors and readmissions to hospitals for patients whose illnesses could have been managed at home. 

“Every time a patient is readmitted to the hospital because they did not take their medications, it has a direct impact on both their health and their healthcare costs,” said Daniel Wandres, chief pharmacy officer of UCSF Medical Center. “By creating this three-way collaboration, we hope to create a national model for eliminating medication-related readmissions and reducing medication errors nationwide.”

The new pharmacy model also comes on the heels of the California provider status law based on Senate Bill 493, which took effect Jan. 1, 2014, expanding the role of pharmacists on the patient care team. Under the new bill, pharmacists can perform additional healthcare responsibilities within the realm of their expertise, such as furnishing certain medicines, monitoring patient health and adjusting prescriptions, as needed. 

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