Even prior to the pandemic, community-based pharmacies have been essential sources of care and support for families, especially those most in need of resources for accessing health care, food, financial assistance, etc. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, community pharmacies are located in most communities in the US and more than 90% of the US population live within 5 miles of one. They are frequented more than the primary care provider’s office and this has been further heightened by COVID-19. While traditional visits to the doctor or hospital have been hindered or moved to telehealth, the local pharmacy has been a source of not only pandemic-specific health and safety information, but also guidance for managing chronic diseases.
From diabetes to heart disease, the local pharmacy team offers support for medication use, self-care guidance, and more. A special 2020 supplement of Preventing Chronic Disease from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) featured an article on the value of community-based pharmacies, noting that “the pandemic has highlighted the key public health functions community pharmacists play in medication therapy, chronic disease management, self-care recommendations, vaccinations, point-of-care screening, testing services, and adherence support.”
Community-based pharmacies have had to change how they do business – as many other companies and organizations have. From curbside pickup to direct shipping via online ordering, there has been a need to respond to the pandemic with more ways for families to access care and supplies. A May 2020 survey from the National Community Pharmacists Association (NCPA) shared via Pharmacy Today, found that of 8000 pharmacists, “82.4% of respondents said they have increased curbside delivery or expanded delivery services and 37.5% said that they have increased their online presence or social media advertising.” The survey respondents also communicated that they believe these changes to their service models are here to stay.
So what does this mean for rural communities? Given that these pharmacies are often the first line for health care, it means that support for these organizations is essential. From grants that support mobile vans and other delivery services to those who can’t afford online delivery or lack the technology, to partnerships bringing needed health screenings to neighborhoods, the work here is far from over – even when the pandemic slows down. Access to low-cost prescriptions is also essential. CSIP recently partnered with NeedyMeds and GoodRx to share resources on online prescriptions savings and digital/printable cards and coupons. More information on saving on medications, and ensuring that medications ordered online are safe, can be found on Verify Before You Buy.
About the Center for Safe Internet Pharmacies (CSIP)
The Center for Safe Internet Pharmacies (CSIP), a non-profit organization founded in 2011 by the White House, represents the technology sector and commerce intermediaries including Google, Microsoft, Facebook, Oath, UPS, PayPal, MasterCard, Discover, American Express, and .Health. CSIP’s mission is to promote industry best practices as it relates to illegal online pharmacies, and educating consumers about safe purchasing of prescription drugs.