AUSTIN, Texas—The University of Texas at Austin’s College of Pharmacy and Walgreens pharmacies have joined forces in Austin in a pioneering program that could make monitoring personal risk factors for developing life-altering illness as convenient as stopping by the local pharmacy.
The program, provided through a facility known as the Patient Care Center, began this week in a northwest Austin pharmacy and makes it much easier for individuals to monitor or be screened for such health conditions as diabetes, cholesterol, blood pressure problems or osteoporosis.
Dr. Martha White, a research fellow and clinical assistant professor within the UT College of Pharmacy, is directing services of the Patient Care Center at the Walgreens store located at 7410 McNeil Drive in Austin (the corner of McNeil and Hwy 183). She is trained to conduct and assess the health screenings. White, a clinical pharmacist, is a graduate of UT AustinÌs Pharmacy Doctorate program.
The Patient Care Center is located adjacent to the storeÌs pharmacy counter. But it will have separate facilities for patients to receive private screenings, consultations and information concerning their particular health issues.
“I am excited to play a role in offering this service to the Austin community for the first time,” White said. “Having this Patient Care Center means our pharmacy can be fully involved in managing all aspects of a patientÌs drug therapy. Not only will we do screenings for heart disease, osteoporosis and diabetes, but we can also help patients keep compliant with their drug therapy so they get the most benefit from it.”
Walgreens has opened Patient Care Centers in other cities, but the McNeil site is the first in Austin. The Austin Patient Care Center is the first to partner with UT Austin and is the first to have a pharmacy teaching component in Texas. The center will become a residency program for UT Austin postgraduate students.
“The practice of pharmacy has evolved considerably from the days of the local apothecary whose primary responsibility was to compound and dispense medications,” said Dr. Cliff Littlefield, UT AustinÌs associate dean of pharmacy. “Within the last two decades, the role of the pharmacist has evolved from one strictly involved with dispensing medications to a more pro-active position that includes patient education, prospective monitoring and health outcomes assessment.”
To prepare pharmacy students for pharmacyÌs expanded role, the UT Austin College of Pharmacy, like most of its counterparts across the country, has restructured its professional degree program from the five-year BS in pharmacy degree to the six-year Pharmacy Doctorate. In altering its curriculum plan, the college included an increased emphasis on pathophysiology and pharmacotherapy as well as patient assessment skills.
“The Patient Care Center marks a critical advancement of pharmacy practice in the Austin area by providing postgraduate training opportunities in the form of residencies for our graduates,” Littlefield continued. “We are delighted to be associated with this new era in pharmaceutical care.”
“Our goal is, first, to identify people who arenÌt aware they may be suffering from heart disease or diabetes, or are at risk for osteoporosis; and, second, to ensure those who have these diseases are effectively using their therapy and reaching their goals,” said Debbie Baggett, Walgreens Austin district pharmacy supervisor.
Services of the Patient Care Center are available on an appointment basis and range in cost from $8 to $250. Walgreens Co. is the nationÌs largest drugstore chain operating more than 3,000 stores in 43 states and Puerto Rico.
The UT Austin College of Pharmacy is one of the premiere institutions of pharmacy higher education in the country offering, in addition to the Pharmacy Doctorate, graduate level training leading to the MS in pharmacy and the Ph.D. in pharmacy.
For more information contact Vicki B. Matustik at the College of Pharmacy at (512) 232-1769
or Dr. Martha White (512) 401-0566 or (512) 232-2626. Debbie Baggett, Walgreens Austin district pharmacy supervisor, can be reached at (512) 459-2295.