Approximately 14% of the U.S. population – 46 million people – live in rural areas where access to care can be a challenge. Studies show that the people who live in rural areas are also more likely to face cost barriers when receiving care since more than 14% live in poverty. They are less likely to have a health care provider they know and trust, and are more likely to live with chronic conditions.
According to a new white paper from Evernorth, the health services division of The Cigna Group, independent pharmacies – which make up more than three-quarters of pharmacies in rural areas – are well positioned to improve access to care. The paper, “The pharmacist can see you now: Evolving rural health to improve equitable access to care,” suggests that expanding the role of community pharmacies can help address long-standing health inequities and drive better health, convenience, and affordability for individuals and rural communities. It also deep dives into how expanded care and service offerings can increase pharmacy revenue, improve financial sustainability, and support local economic growth.
“Independent, rural pharmacists have incomparable insights into the health and well-being of the people they serve and are uniquely positioned to intervene early, whether to deliver preventive care and screenings, help manage diseases, identify behavioral health concerns, or potentially prevent a person from needing hospital care,” said Adam Kautzner, a pharmacist and president of Express Scripts, the pharmacy benefits division of Evernorth.
In this white paper, we explore:
- How health inequities put people and communities at risk
- How pharmacists can help close gaps in care and address social determinants of health
- The role of independent pharmacists in connecting people to digital