JOINT BASE SAN ANTONIO-RANDOLPH, Texas –
A new collaborative practice at the Joint Base San Antonio-Randolph Clinic is allowing pharmacists to play a greater role in beneficiaries' health care.
Randolph pharmacists are now operating a PharmD clinic, prescribing medications for high blood pressure and high cholesterol while providing other services to patients.
"It's an exciting thing we're doing now," Capt. Timothy Weigle, Randolph Clinic Pharmacy officer in charge, said. "It gives focused treatment for hypertension and high cholesterol. With dedicated appointments, we can focus on education, lifestyle counseling and medication counseling."
Weigle said the PharmD clinic, which augments the work of the family practice teams, provides "an extra service" that enhances health care.
"Additional care is beneficial," he said. "Our focus is education. We make sure patients are aware of what they need to do."
Weigle said the PharmD clinic operates under a protocol approved by the medical command staff. Patients, who must be impaneled at the Randolph Clinic, first visit their primary care manager, who will typically refer them to the PharmD clinic if their condition is hypertension or high cholesterol.
"We have physician supervisors," he said. "They hold us to the protocol and we use them as a resource."
Randolph's PharmD clinic began operation in January, but the concept is not new. It continues to gain momentum in military and civilian health care.
"Veterans Affairs facilities have been doing it for a while," Capt. David Lang, Randolph Clinic pharmacist, said. "Studies show that the team effort provides better results. Here at Randolph, we're focused on two disease states, so we have more time to devote to patients."
Weigle said pharmacists at other Air Force clinics are providing the same service for people with issues ranging from diabetes to cardiovascular problems.
Lang said Randolph pharmacists' focus on hypertension and high blood pressure gives the family health teams more time to deal with patients' other issues.
Weigle said pharmacists "can focus on the core of patients' problems.
"We have full access to medical records," he said. "We can educate patients and prescribe medications. Also, what we're doing is visible to the doctor."
Weigle said other benefits of a PharmD clinic are accessibility and the ability to keep track of patients and make sure they don't miss follow-up appointments.
"People are already starting to come back for follow-ups and are doing remarkably better," he said.