- About one in four U.S. adults has arthritis, including about half of patients with diabetes, heart disease and high blood pressure.
- The percentage of people whose arthritis has limited their activity is increasing.
- May is National Arthritis Awareness Month, making it a great time to spotlight how your pharmacy can help patients with arthritis.
More than 54 million U.S. adults have arthritis, and that number is expected to grow to 67 million by 2030.1
National Arthritis Awareness Month, in May, is the perfect time to highlight the multiple ways your pharmacy can help patients better manage this disease.
- Medication management. Often patients with arthritis have more than just arthritis: 57% of adults with heart disease, 52% of those with diabetes and 44% of those with high blood pressure also have arthritis, according to the Arthritis Foundation. By synchronizing their prescriptions and counseling them about ALL of their medications, you can improve their adherence. (See “Coaching at the pharmacy counter.”) Be sure patients also understand whether taking over-the-counter medications such as acetaminophen or NSAIDs could be a problem because of their health or lifestyle.Inflammatory conditions such as arthritis also are one of the top three conditions treated with specialty medications.2 So, when patients on expensive medication for rheumatoid arthritis are on a med sync program, that not only improves their adherence but also helps you better manage inventory.
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- Exercise. The prohttp://srrx.staging.wpengine.com/medication-synchronization/medication-synchronization-education-center/portion of adults saying their arthritis limits their activity grew significantly between 2002 and 2014, from 35.9% to 42.8%. However, the CDC says that being physically active can reduce the symptoms of arthritis by 40%. “Physical activity is a proven strategy to ease pain and reduce symptoms among people with arthritis,” said CDC Acting Director Dr. Anne Schuchat in a news release this year.3Behavioral coaching by pharmacists is one way to encourage patients to develop and sustain the exercise habit. Your pharmacy could also partner with other organizations to offer activities for patients with arthritis, such as walking groups that meet at your pharmacy, or a university extension office may offer a tai chi for arthritis class to which you could refer patients.Front-end items such as fitness trackers and other exercise-related items could benefit this population, too. Make them easy to find with signage.
- Education. In addition to promoting exercise, CDC epidemiologist Kamil Barbour said that it’s important for primary care providers to motivate their patients to attend workshops to learn how to better manage arthritis.4 Working with your local health department, you may be able to offer a self-management education program the CDC recommends.5 Self-management resources also are available through the Arthritis Foundation.
With a focus on medication management, exercise and education, you can market your pharmacy’s focus on arthritis through all of your marketing and communication channels. This includes in-store, on your website, through social media platforms (like Facebook), and through various health-focused community publications, like newspapers and newsletters.
Since so many patients are affected by arthritis or have family members who are, seeing information about how your pharmacy assists and supports those with arthritis will get their attention.
1 “May Is National Arthritis Awareness Month,” Arthritis Foundation. LINK
2 “Build Your Business with Specialty Medications,” SmartRetailingRx.com, Dec. 4, 2014. LINK
3 “Arthritis Limits Daily Activities of 24 Million U.S. Adults,” Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, March 7, 2017. LINK
5 “Arthritis: Self-Management Education,” Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Dec. 23, 2016. LINK