Drugstore Association Launches Partnership to Boost Health Screenings in Pharmacies
The Nourish My Health initiative is designed to help pharmacy customers learn more about healthy diets and receive baseline wellness tests.
The National Association of Chain Drug Stores has partnered with multiple health groups to ramp up basic health screenings at neighborhood pharmacies.
The program, called Nourish My Health, was launched last month by NACDS in collaboration with the American Cancer Society, American Diabetes Association, American Heart Association, and the Food Is Medicine Institute at Tufts University. Through the program, people visiting pharmacies would receive education from pharmacists on some of the most common diseases, while also accessing tests for blood pressure, cholesterol, and more.
According to NACDS President and CEO Steven C. Anderson, IOM, FASAE, CAE, the idea of the partnership developed during the pandemic, as masses of Americans visited pharmacies to receive COVID-19 vaccinations. “People were discovering they could get more healthcare in pharmacies than they thought they could,” he said. “We’re protecting the core in terms of what we’re doing on pharmacy issues, but we’re expanding into new areas.”
In September 2022, NACDS was a key participant in a White House conference on hunger, nutrition, and health. At that conference, NACDS committed to building partnerships to improve wellness education through its members’ stores. To that end, the association developed an advisory group from among its membership to discuss what pharmacists could contribute, while the association also pursued relevant partnerships.
“[Groups representing] the top diet-related diseases were top of mind,” said Sara Roszak, NACDS senior vice president of health and wellness policy. “We also wanted an entity [the Food Is Medicine Institute] that has an academic bent to it, to show the importance of how food is medicine, and how the research that’s been done in that space could be applied to what we’re doing.”
Nourish My Health has a recently launched website with health information and a nutrition survey, and a related hashtag, #NourishMyHealth. But the heart of the program is in the relationships pharmacists have with their customers. Anderson and Roszak note that physician shortages are common in rural areas and places with substantial minority populations; meanwhile 90 percent of Americans live within five miles of a NACDS member store.
“Most people have greater access to their pharmacies than they do to their physician’s office,” Roszak said. “Pharmacists can connect them with resources to get better food and nutrition. Pharmacists are uniquely positioned to be able to identify patients, because that’s something they routinely do all the time.”
NACDS will be tracking engagement with the program and reporting to the CDC Foundation. But one upside to Nourish My Health, Roszak said, is that it won’t need much time to get the program up and running, since it largely adds structure to work its members already do.
“Many of our members already offer screenings and many of them do special health and wellness events where screenings are available to the public,” she said. “A lot of them focus on nutrition and healthy eating and how to think about certain diet-related diseases. So what we’re doing here is leveraging all that good work and seeing how to plug that into the partnership.”