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Implementation of a pharmacist and student pharmacist-led primary care service to identify and treat rural veterans at risk for osteoporotic fracture

J Am Pharm Assoc. 2021 Jul 21;S1544-3191(21)00312-5.

Objective: To develop and implement a pharmacist and student pharmacist-led osteoporosis service to increase dual-energy x-ray absorptiometry (DXA) screening rates among rural veterans and treat those at high risk of osteoporotic fractures.

Practice description: Pharmacists are uniquely positioned to provide direct patient care in the Department of Veterans Affairs ambulatory care setting owing to their broad scope of practice. Clinical Pharmacy Specialists (CPSs) have the authority to order laboratory tests and imaging, prescribe medications, refer patients to specialty services, and monitor patients along with the primary care team.

Practice innovation: The implementation of a pharmacist-led osteoporosis primary prevention service using student pharmacists to identify and treat patients has not been previously described in the literature to the authors' knowledge.

Evaluation methods: Student pharmacists in their third year contacted veterans who met the inclusion criteria for osteoporosis screening. The veterans were offered DXA scans and provided education on the risk factors for osteoporosis. After the DXA scans were completed, the students and the CPS reviewed the results to determine treatment strategies. The primary objective was evaluated by comparing the pre- and post-implementation rates of DXA screening. The other process markers that were evaluated included (1) completed DXA scans, (2) new diagnoses of osteoporosis or osteopenia, (3) patients eligible for treatment on the basis of the DXA screening results, and (4) patients who started oral bisphosphonate therapy.

Results: Of the 232 rural veterans evaluated, 36 had completed DXA scans before this service was implemented. After the service was implemented, 115 veterans completed DXA scans. A total of 57 patients received a new diagnosis, 33 were eligible for therapy, and 12 started oral bisphosphonate therapy after intervention by the CPS.

Conclusion: The implementation of a pharmacist-driven osteoporosis screening and treatment service demonstrated an increase in the rate of DXA screening among rural veterans.

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