Challenges for rural communities
Rural communities have older and sicker residents compared to urban and suburban areas. This can create challenges when accessing medical care and prescription drugs, particularly given the need for primary care physicians in these areas.
The value of the pharmacy in rural areas cannot be underestimated. The pharmacy is often the only accessible source of healthcare for residents living in rural areas who do not have access to a hospital or other healthcare providers. For this reason, it is crucial that pharmacists implement strategies to maximize their contribution to the healthcare delivery system.
Some actions that can be taken to offer the best service possible to their communities include:
1. Expand their services:
Rural pharmacies can offer additional services beyond filling prescriptions. For example, they can provide immunizations, blood pressure screenings, diabetes management, and medication therapy services.
2. Partner with local healthcare providers:
Rural pharmacies can partner with local healthcare providers, such as primary care physicians and hospitals, to offer collaborative care for patients. This can include medication management, follow-up care, and regular patient check-ins.
3. Offer home delivery:
Many rural areas are spread out and difficult to travel in, particularly for older or sicker patients. Offering home delivery of prescriptions and other healthcare products can be a helpful service that sets a rural pharmacy apart from others in the area.
4. Provide medication education:
Rural pharmacies can offer one-on-one consultations with pharmacists to help patients understand how to take their medications and avoid potential drug interactions properly.
5. Build relationships with their customers:
Overall, pharmacies play a vital role in providing healthcare services and improving the quality of life for residents in rural areas. Without these services, many rural residents would struggle to access the necessary medication and care. Therefore, pharmacies are an essential asset to the vibrancy and well-being of rural communities.