Retail News Breaks Archives
Pharmacies assess rapid diagnostic testing
January 17th, 2014
ARLINGTON, Va. – The National Association of Chain Drug Stores Foundation is funding research grants with the University of Nebraska College of Pharmacy and the Ferris State College of Pharmacy that enable patients to be tested for strep throat and influenza in 80 pharmacies in the Midwest.
The rapid diagnostic test for strep throat was recently demonstrated by talk show host Dr. Mehmet Oz of Fox television's "The Dr. Oz Show." Click here to view the video clip from The Dr. Oz Show website (ZoCo Productions LLC).
The research aims to assess the effectiveness of rapid diagnostic testing in pharmacies, with the goal of broadening access to health care and improving patient health outcomes, the NACDS Foundation said.
"We thought this would be a great opportunity to look at the impact on patient health by evaluating community pharmacy providing these services," said Kathleen Jaeger, president of the NACDS Foundation.
For the project, specially trained and certified pharmacists screen patients for flu and group A streptococcus, the bacteria that causes strep throat, and then perform the rapid diagnostic tests for flu or strep throat.
The NACDS Foundation noted that the ability to identify illness speeds the time to treatment and, in turn, leads to better patient outcomes. The rapid antigen detection test for strep throat, for example, provides results in five minutes. That enables pharmacists to administer it in the community pharmacy setting and, if needed, dispense antibiotics on the spot with the direction of a doctor participating in the study.
Through this streamlined process, patients can proceed from diagnosis to treatment without a visit to the doctor's office and without waiting for the results of a traditional throat culture, which can take 24 to 48 hours.
Retail pharmacy operators participating in the one-year study project are in Minnesota, Michigan and Nebraska and include Thrifty White Pharmacy and Meijer Inc.
Aaron Jennissen, vice president of pharmacy operations at Thrifty White, commented that having the tests available in pharmacies "gives patients another point of access to health care."
Earlier this week, Meijer announced that as part of the research project it has teamed with Ferris State University and the University of Nebraska Medical Center College of Pharmacy to study rapid diagnostic testing and how medicines are administered to patients for flu and strep throat in pharmacies. A dozen Meijer pharmacies in Michigan are providing free diagnostic testing for flu and strep throat.
Jaeger explained that the research effort focuses on pharmacies without walk-in clinics and that such testing services are a natural fit for those stores and other locations. "There are many stores in rural America and other areas that don't have clinics," she said. "We're looking at ways to provide timely, affordable care to patients so they can have better outcomes and better health."
On Friday, the NACDS Foundation noted that health care talk show host and author Dr. Mehmet Oz of "The Dr. Oz Show," who's a cardiac surgeon, demonstrated the rapid diagnostic test for strep throat on his program late last week. "I'm hopeful one day we'll be able to get this in pharmacies," Oz said during the TV segment.
"Dr. Oz's support for rapid diagnostic testing in pharmacies shows he understands, as a physician, the need for better and more convenient access to care for patients, which leads to improved outcomes and reduced overall health care costs," the NACDS Foundation stated. "It’s a win-win all the way around."
The foundation added that accurate, timely diagnosis addresses an increasing concern of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC): overuse of antibiotics. The CDC estimates that at least 2 million people each year become infected with bacteria that are resistant to antibiotics, and at least 23,000 people die each year as a result of those infections.