Dr Aimee Loucks: Identify Contributions to Health Disparities Before Addressing the Issue

Large health system pharmacies need to first identify their own contributions to health care disparities before identifying areas of opportunity to address the issue, said Aimee Loucks, PharmD, manager, specialty clinical pharmacy programs and formulary, Kaiser Permanente.

Large health system pharmacies need to first identify their own contributions to health care disparities before identifying areas of opportunity to address the issue, said Aimee Loucks, PharmD, manager, specialty clinical pharmacy programs and formulary, Kaiser Permanente.

Transcript

In larger health system pharmacies, what can pharmacists provide for patients with a high social determinant of health need and chronic disease?

One of the most important things that needs to happen first is that those larger health care systems need to identify their own contributions to health care disparities and examine what their biggest opportunities are. And then again, I think, you know, the most important thing that I've been learning as a part of this process, is that you really need to bring in the patients in those communities identify what their challenges are, and design solutions with them at the table and really implement to a type of patient-centered design.

I think another thing that large health care systems can do, in addition to meeting the needs of their individual patients in their community is to advocate that national goals or metrics are aligned with closing health care disparities to bring sort of a laser focus to this type of challenge.

What are some of the barriers that pharmacists in health systems face when trying to address a patient's social determinants of health issues?

I think one of the biggest barriers is probably that today their incentives are not aligned with taking the time to close those health care gaps. As we all know, our health care systems can be highly stressed and very focused on doing as much as possible as quickly as possible, and kind of moving things down the line to create sort of efficiencies in those process. And I think what we need to do, as a larger society, is figure out how we can customize the care that we provide to the individual patients that we provide care to knowing that some patients may need more help or a different type of help than we’re designed to provide today.