Bradley Blakeman: Coronavirus testing requires public-private partnerships – local pharmacies will be key

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President Trump has announced that the federal government will be partnering with the private sector to cut red tape and clear the way for safe, effective, convenient and affordable community testing for coronavirus. This makes perfect sense. The president does not want to hear the 10 ways things cannot get done. He wants to hear the 10 ways in which they will be done. If it is moral, ethical, legal and needed, let’s do it without delay.

We know that 95 percent of Americans live within five miles of a retail pharmacy. Pharmacists are the most accessible healthcare provider and already perform a wide range of health services beyond prescriptions and over-the-counter medical products. Within pharmacists' scope of practice is the ability to conduct health and wellness testing, manage chronic diseases and perform medication management, administer immunizations, and work and partner with others in health care to advance health and wellness and help reduce the need for doctor, clinic or hospital visits.

Now is the time to allow for pharmacies to step up to take the burden off the medical delivery system nationwide. There is no doubt that very soon, Americans will be able to get tested at their local pharmacies.

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The good news is that local pharmacies all across America from cities and the suburbs to rural areas can seamlessly provide coronavirus testing.

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Coronavirus has a silver lining. The president and his task force have changed the way we respond to viral and pandemic events. They are empowering existing networks of pharmacies to immediately become engaged in detection, testing, managing and reporting while providing needed services locally to those most at risk.

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Testing and clinical services provided at pharmacy locations will continue to evolve after the response to the coronavirus pandemic. The pharmacy clinical services model positions large, national pharmacy brands as well as community pharmacies as key resources and delivery centers for healthcare services.

This effort requires the cooperation of large retailers, small, medium and large labs and IT servicers and providers. We also need to make sure all services in the chain of delivery are diversified to protect the ability to provide services uninterrupted.

This newly created network of testing and patient management will go on and expand long after coronavirus has been eradicated. This will mean that the American people will have the ability to access needed medical services delivered through their neighborhood pharmacies rather than at doctor’s offices, clinics or hospitals. This will save money, time and improve the delivery of healthcare in America.

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The federal government, however, can only do so much. We need the same cooperation we have seen on the federal level replicated on the state and local levels. We need uniform protocols that make it easy for pharmacies to deliver services closest to the patients affected without delay, bureaucracy, overcharging or unreliable and risky.

The strength of America lies in her ability to innovate and solve problems. The best ideas and solutions come from a government and a private sector that come together for the common good.

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