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New clinical pharmacy approach fills care gap

16 Jan 2022

Success after first year – plus, read Jack’s story

By: Shannon Priem, SH senior content specialist with Dr. Andrew Sowles, Ambulatory Care/Clinical Pharmacy Services

If you have patients needing extra help with their medications – or have complex or chronic conditions -- Salem Health’s new Medication Management Clinic is an excellent resource.

We launched our clinic last year by asking providers to refer their most challenging diabetes cases (those finding it difficult to keep their A1c below 9%). The idea is to spend more time helping patients who need more follow-up to manage medications.

Success was remarkable!  After one year, 77% of referred patients improved their A1c to under 9%, and 52% reached a more clinically meaningful improvement to an A1c of 7 to 8%. (As you probably know, when people have an A1c over 9 percent, the risk greatly increases for heart attack, stroke, kidney disease, eye disease, nerve disease, and death.)

Please read Jack’s story at the end, for a deeply personal glimpse into one of our patient’s experience.

Helping when providers lack time

No doubt providers face a rise in complex cases (even before the pandemic) with less time to spend — while patients often wait weeks for appointments. This is where we step in by paring your patients with clinical pharmacists. These pharmacists are jumping to the front line, joining other providers in direct care — not just filling prescriptions.

Why is our clinic unique?

Having pharmacists in an outpatient clinic is a novel idea. Salem Health’s Medication Management Clinic is the first and only pharmacist-run clinic in our area. Clinical pharmacists practicing in this type of advanced clinical setting account for less than 1% of licensed pharmacists in the U.S.

How the clinic works

First, providers need to sign clinical agreements with the clinic; then they work from referrals.  Salem Health hashave agreements with all SHMG PCPs, and all Salem Clinic PCPs and can accept referrals from those two groups.  Learn more by emailing Dr. Sowles.

The clinic matches your patients with a pharmacist who becomes their “go-to” for questions about medications. Connecting is easy. Patients can set up office visits or connect from home through phone or e-visits. They can also reach out with questions via MyChart.

Where and who are they?

Our clinic, on South River Road in Salem, includes Dr. Andrew Sowles (director); pharmacists Dr. Lindsey Bartos, Dr. Anthony McKenzie, Dr. Amber Purdy, Dr. Katie LaRue and Dr. Alison Manjerovic. Clinical techs: Olivia Valenciano, Anilu Cerda, Cindy Rivas and Rachel Bliege. Referral specialists: Angie Nino Astaiza and Crystal Hernandez Tolento.

Contact them at 503-814-4585.

How Jack turned from skeptic to fan

Jack Graham approaches his health and prescriptions with the sharp scrutiny of an attorney practicing law for 50 years.

The 77-year-old is not an easy patient – but for good reason. With a family history of high blood pressure, he’s had a long affair with medications. In addition, a ringworm diagnosis years ago turned out instead to be a rare reaction to his blood pressure medication. It took months to figure out, and he almost died.

“I ask a lot of questions now,” he said.

He still needs blood pressure and diabetes meds, and by 2020, Jack was up to four prescriptions. When he visited nurse practitioner Lynn West a few months ago, she referred him to Salem Health’s new Medication Management Clinic.

He met someone there with the time to sort things out — and earn his trust.

“I was skeptical when I first met her,” he said, referring to clinical pharmacist Lindsey Bartos. “But she spent more time with me than anyone had. She reviewed all my tests, respected my need for facts and researched all my questions. She became my advocate.”

“Jack’s a smart guy,” Bartos laughed. “He’s serious about his health, so it’s a team effort between the both of us. As outpatient clinical pharmacists, we’re fortunate to have the time to sit with patients and talk about their medications in particular. I think this gave Jack and me the opportunity to figure out the best regimen for him.”

Today, Jack is down to two prescriptions — and “perfect scores.” Dr. Bartos consults with Jack every few months. “It took me four visits to trust her, but I know a good analytical brain when I see one — in fact, I’d hire her for my law practice in a minute!”