Pharmacy ideal for proactive health interventions

A smoking cessation program developed by the University of California San Francisco School of Pharmacy will be deployed through Safeway pharmacies, the university announced. As part of the program, Safeway pharmacists will receive special training in counseling techniques. 

It's one of the first partnerships of its kind and another example of how community pharmacy will be stepping into a more preventive healthcare role. You can expect to see more types of these smoking cessation programs along with other proactive health interventions tackling weight loss and encouraging healthier behaviors. 

That's not a hard prediction to make — pharmacists are the most accessible healthcare provider out there. And the environment in which they operate is not only similarly easy to access but also can be loaded with technology-driven interactive tools.

Health kiosk developer SoloHealth recently partnered with the William J. Clinton Foundation's 2013 Clinton Health Matters Initiative on building and distributing a tobacco-cessation education module across its SoloHealth Station kiosks, which should number 4,000 by the end of the year. 

The next preventive health arena where pharmacists can play an increasingly important role is weight loss. Remember, it wasn't too long ago there was an initiative featuring a retailer/health insurer partnership that worked toward encouraging healthier food shopping behaviors. 

First, this will be an active area because tackling weight loss as a preventive healthcare initiative will deliver a greater disease-prevention yield. According to the National Center for Health Statistics, obesity is not only tied to increased morbidity, but also an increased risk of heart disease, stroke, some cancers, diabetes, osteoarthritis and disability.  

Second, there are a lot of Americans who are considered obese, and a disease-prevention program operating out of a convenient pharmacy setting will reach more people. Between 1988–1994 and 2009–2010, the prevalence of obesity among preschool-age children 2–5 years of age increased from 7% to 12%, NCHS noted. And the prevalence of obesity among school-age children and adolescents increased from 11% to 18%, respectively. 

From 1988–1994 and through 2007–2010, the percentage of adults 20 years of age and over with grade 1 obesity (a body mass index between 30 and 34.9) increased from 14% to 20%. Those with grade 2 obesity (BMI of 35–39.9) nearly doubled, from 5% to 9%, and those with grade 3 or higher obesity (BMI of 40 or higher) rose from 3% to 6%.