Partnership Helps in South Dakota

According to reports, a number of patients do not always take their medications as prescribed and patients with chronic illnesses have the lowest adherence rates. This is particularly challenging in rural South Dakota where two thirds of the counties have a healthcare professional shortage and the nearest pharmacy might be an hour’s drive away.

To address these challenges, South Dakota State University (SDSU) Pharmacy Practice Faculty are partnering with the South Dakota Department of Health to utilize a new five year funding opportunity which is available through CDC.

More than 50,000 people in South Dakota have heart disease or have had a heart attack while 17,000 have experience a stroke. More than 72,000 South Dakotans have diabetes, according to the South Dakota Diabetes State Plan 2018-2020.

Lead researcher Sharrel Pinto plus the entire SDSU team are working together with the South Dakota Heart Disease and Stroke Prevention Program and the Diabetes Prevention and Control Program. The researchers have developed a five year action plan that the South Dakota Department of Health plans to fund annually through financial support from CDC, For the first year, Pinto received $500,000 for the project.

Patients may see their doctors up to several times a year but typically have monthly contact with their pharmacists which results in more opportunities to be educated on how and how often to take medications.

According to Pinto, “The goal is to expand patient care beyond just dispensing medications. Medication Therapy Management is a mechanism through which pharmacists can counsel patients on their medications, their disease, and their need for therapy. The goal is to develop a statewide model using different types of programs and services to help people in the state more effectively manage and prevent diabetes, heart disease, and strokes.

During the first year of the grant with 20 to 25 pharmacy students involved, researchers will conduct interviews and focus groups with patients, providers, and insurance companies. Providers can include doctors, nurses, pharmacists, dietitians, extension coordinators, diabetes educators, and community health professionals. 

The second year the researchers will use community resources to develop programs to help fill identified gaps. Programs will be implemented for the next three years with researchers working to evaluate successes, failures, and lessons learned to determine how they can further improve the program.

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