UNMC pharmacists take lead in new collaboration

Health care reform is coming. But change of this magnitude can be daunting. How, exactly, will it work (and can it)?

In Kearney, Neb., we are about to find out.

There, in a collaborative effort, the UNMC College of Pharmacy, Walgreens, the Kearney Clinic, P.C., Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Nebraska and the Nebraska Health Information Initiative, are set to roll out a new model in the treatment of patients with hypertension and type-2 diabetes.

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Donald Klepser, Ph.D.
It's a groundbreaking partnership, said Donald Klepser, Ph.D., assistant professor of pharmacy practice.

The key, noted Kristi Rudkin, Pharm.D., senior manager of product development at Walgreens, is that with a patient's health and prescription history, and with increased access to that patient, a community pharmacist - working in conjunction with a patient's doctor - can have a beneficial impact on medication management and patient care.

It's a more economical utilization of resources and takes better advantage of a pharmacist's expertise, Dr. Klepser said.

And a patient may be more likely to stick to a program or see a provider if it involves taking a trip to Walgreens rather than to his or her physician's office.

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Julie Oestreich, Ph.D.
Kearney Clinic is currently enrolling potential candidates, with the idea that patients should see improved outcomes.

Ally Dering-Anderson, Pharm.D., and Julie Oestreich, Ph.D., both assistant professors of pharmacy practice, also serve as UNMC investigators on the project. In six months or so, collaborators hope to have enough preliminary data to see how well it's working. The National Association of Chain Drug Stores Foundation has awarded UNMC a two-year, $369,000 grant.

"Research like this will inform and shape how we practice," said Kearney Clinic's Kenton Shaffer, M.D., an UNMC alum.

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Ally Dering-Anderson, Pharm.D.
One of the country's biggest chain drug stores was willing to sign off on a change in policies for one pharmacy in Nebraska. An insurance company was willing to try something new because it believed this would have better outcomes for patients. The physicians and pharmacists involved were eager to work together, to take full advantage of the others' expertise.

"We hope that this project will further improve the health and outcomes of our clinic's patients," Dr. Shaffer said.

And why is such a cutting-edge project happening in Kearney?

"That clinic is amazing," Dr. Dering-Anderson said. "They are light years ahead."

Across the country, people are asking how health care reform will (and if it can) work. But in Kearney, Neb., they are light years ahead.


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