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Professors Enter Three-Year Study of Pharmacy-Based Testing to Monitor Hypertension, Elevated Cholesterol

photoMichael Klepser & Michelle Sahr & John Jameson

Ferris State University College of Pharmacy faculty members are the principal investigators in a three-year study supported by a Michigan Department of Health and Human Services grant. Professor Michael Klepser said that he is collaborating with Assistant Professor of Pharmaceutical Science Michelle Sahr and professor emeritus John Jameson, of Rockford, in a pilot project to explore pharmacy-based testing of patients to monitor hypertension and dyslipidemia.

“We have begun implementation of the program at the pharmacy in the Manistee Meijer,” Klepser said. “The novel thing about this project is that the patient has assessments and samples for laboratory testing drawn onsite. The pharmacist has the authorization to modify medications before a prescription is filled. It makes many aspects of care very convenient for the patient.”

Klepser said there are some rural areas in Michigan where a pharmacy is available, but the clientele may not have a range of choices regarding primary care physicians or access to an urgent care clinic.

“The goal of this study is to offer a turnkey care model that pharmacies can implement,” Klepser said. “The point-of-care technologies now available as offerings at pharmacies have grown in the last decade, so we hope lab services being available at this level can provide more precise care and improve patient outcomes.”

Disease management programs that use point-of-care testing has been increasing in pharmacies across the U.S. Currently, the most common services revolve around HIV and Hepatitis C screening and testing and treatment for influenza and strep throat.

“COVID-19 has increased the awareness of what types of testing and management services pharmacists can offer,” Klepser said. “We believe that people will see the values of pharmacists and our hope is to move beyond infectious disease response and offer assistance with management of more chronic conditions.”
He continued.

“Ideally, in the future, we hope to go beyond referrals from physicians to the ability to serve those who may not have a primary care physician and are unaware of their condition,” Klepser said. “Although some of the patient care can be accomplished at the pharmacy, we also want to help link individuals to a practice or provider so that they can receive all of their needed care.”

This research will involve using the Piccolo Xpress analyzer, from Abbott POC, which provides a full complement of blood chemistry tests that have waivers in the Clinical Laboratory Improvement Amendments of 1988. Cholesterol and serum chemistry panels for high cholesterol are the focus of the MDHHS study, as is hypertension. Still, Klepser sees more widespread applications for the analyzer, especially in pharmacies that rural and medically underserved communities.

“We hope to show that through increased accessibility to services that patients managed in the pharmacy will have improved treatment,” Klepser said.