The Department of Health and Human Services this week released the surgeon general’s Call to Action to Control Hypertension, citing pharmacists as integral members of the hypertension care team.
The National Association of Chain Drug Stores welcomed the report as continued momentum for the work and recognition of pharmacists in the effort to confront chronic disease, and to meet the needs of the medically underserved and those suffering from disparities in health care.
The report outlines three goals:
- Make hypertension control a priority;
- Ensure that the places where people live, learn, work and play support hypertension control; and
- Optimize patient care for hypertension control. The Call to Action complements the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s National Hypertension Control Roundtable, a public-private partnership of which NACDS "is a proud member, committed to improving national hypertension control rates and reducing disparities in hypertension control."
Of crucial importance, the report highlights community pharmacies’ and pharmacists’ distinct and critical role when it comes to improving hypertension control and supporting patients nationwide.
“Pharmacies should not simply be considered a way to distribute medication. Community-based pharmacists can support hypertension management in meaningful ways, including being integral members of care teams. They can provide medication therapy management services to reconcile medication regimens, support adherence, and recommend or make adjustments to medications to help patients lower their blood pressure,” the authors noted.
Additionally, the Call to Action report underscores the widespread accessibility of pharmacies, suggesting that community pharmacists are particularly well-positioned to provide preventive services and effectively address hypertension-related health disparities.
Specifically, the authors noted that “including pharmacists in community-based efforts to improve hypertension control among underserved populations through active medication management has also proved promising and could be implemented in an alternative care model to enhance traditional primary care.”
The publication also addresses some of the challenges that care teams face when prioritizing hypertension control. Of note, the authors indicated that one challenge to establishing care teams “is that reimbursement models are not always in place to support their use, especially when teams include nontraditional members, such as pharmacists and community health workers.”
“U.S. Surgeon General Jerome M. Adams’ Call to Action report validates pharmacy’s long-standing urging for a heightened role in helping every American achieve and maintain heart health,” said NACDS president and CEO Steve Anderson.
“The COVID-19 pandemic has not only illuminated the disproportionate impact of chronic conditions — such as hypertension — on medically underserved and disadvantaged communities, but also has emphasized major gaps in patient care access," Anderson said. "The education, trust and accessibility of pharmacists are vital for meeting the health-and-wellness needs of patients and communities, and the evidence confirms that pharmacists can play an increasingly meaningful role on the issue of hypertension control — and in reaching those populations that face disparities in healthcare. To improve quality care and expand access to clinical care interventions in every corner of America, community pharmacies and pharmacists must be further empowered and fully leveraged to serve as a part of the solution.”