NuCara Pilots New Pharmacy Practice Model

Pamela Wong, our Director of Clinical Services, leads an innovative New Pharmacy Practice Model pilot project with four of NuCara’s pharmacy locations: Lenox (Alicia Lynn), Story City (Betty Grinde), Traer (Phyllis McKee), and Washington (Samantha Peterson).
Under the guidance of the New Pharmacy Practice Model Task Force and coordination with the Iowa Board of Pharmacy, a pilot and research demonstration project was designed to ensure safe and effective medication dispensing through a pharmacy technician verification process (i.e., Tech-Check-Tech) in controlled situations in community practice as a means to provide pharmacists the time and resources for clinical pharmacy services. Tech-Check-Tech programs have been effectively implemented across hospitals in Iowa and across the country, but not within a community pharmacy setting. Given the importance of medication therapy to manage chronic conditions, community pharmacists are well-positioned to deliver services, such as medication therapy management (MTM), while addressing medication non-adherence and other medication-related issues.
This is a model of pharmacy practice that enhances patient safety and improves patient health outcomes.  It is important for this new practice model be recognized by patients, other healthcare providers, and payers of healthcare as a valuable service model; reproducible; professionally rewarding; and financially sustainable. All participating pharmacies plan to utilize the full breadth of patient care service offerings including:  medication therapy management (MTM), immunizations, medication synchronization, disease state management, collaborative practice agreements, and care coordination services with local health-systems.
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Current Issues in Health Care: Diabetic Shoe fitting

womensshoeAs our healthcare system continues to evolve, pharmacy as it is practiced today is changing, and hopefully for the better. Here is the last of four topics hat are in the “hot seat” as we round up the first half of 2014:


Pharmacies around the state of Iowa pride themselves as being able to provide more than just prescription and over-the-counter medications. One of these services is the fitting and selling of therapeutic shoes. These are most often for diabetic patients suffering from neuropathy (continual loss of sensation) in their feet. Approximately three months ago, Iowa pharmacies were informed that, starting on July 1st of 2014, it was no longer within their legal means to help patients find the right shoe and minimize their discomfort 7.

Current Standing

After receiving this news, the Iowa Pharmacy Association immediately went to work to resolve this issue. To allow pharmacists to keep providing useful assistance to their patients, IPA met with the Iowa Board of Pharmacy and Attorney General’s Office, other accrediting organizations, and even shoe manufacturers. The IPA’s proactive response led to the Iowa Board of Podiatry and Board of Pharmacy writing a total of eight letters to accrediting organizations and the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS). Within the three months of lobbying, it was determined Iowa pharmacies will be able to continue therapeutic shoe fitting 7.

How are YOU, the patient, affected?

Continuing this service will allow pharmacists to help patients achieve these four objectives in shoe fitting as laid out by the American Orthopedic Foot and Ankle Society: (1) relieve areas of excessive pressure, (2) reduce shock and shear, (3) accommodate, stabilize, and support deformities, and (4) limit the motion of joints to decrease inflammation 8. If you have questions or concerns about diabetic neuropathy, ask your local pharmacist today. Therapeutic shoe fitting is also provided at the majority of NuCara stores.

References for all four topics:

2. As of June 20th, 2014 on
7. Letter from CEO of IPA Kate Gainer on June 19th, 2014. Further questions or requests for information can be emailed to


Current Issues in Health Care: New Practice Model

7990As our healthcare system continues to evolve, pharmacy as it is practiced today is changing, and hopefully for the better. Here is the third of four topics that are in the “hot seat” as we round up the first half of 2014:

New Practice Model


Since 2010, the Iowa Pharmacy Association and its New Practice Model (NPM) Task Force have been developing a practice model to let pharmacists allocate more time for clinical analysis and patient service. The idea is to use technology in place and multiple certified pharmacy technicians to verify prescriptions and free more time up for the pharmacist. Ultimately, the New Practice Model promotes patient safety and desired health outcomes 6.

Current Standing

NuCara and the other participating pharmacies began the statewide pilot project on June 2nd. The technician verification process, otherwise known as the tech-check-tech system, is being closely monitored for errors in real time by pharmacists at these stores. Along with that, IPA is getting biweekly feedback from the stores participating in the pilot. The goal is to expand the model in other community settings by November 2014, and eventually reproduce the model nationwide if it is successful 6.

How are YOU, the patient, affected?

Pharmacists today are equipped with wide-ranging clinical skills. Pending on the success of the pilot, you, as the patient, can expect more time to discuss any health-related concerns with your community pharmacist. Third party pricing decisions have lead some pharmacies to demand their pharmacists to sacrifice time with patients. At NuCara, we want to promote the NPM so pharmacists can apply their knowledge and help their patients! More than just counseling on a new prescription, pharmacists can identify medication interactions, assist in over-the-counter purchases, and directly communicate beneficial medication adjustments to doctors.

Current Issues in Health Care: Ensuring Seniors Access to Local Pharmacies

Couple Enjoying A Game Of GolfAs our healthcare system continues to evolve, pharmacy as it is practiced today is changing, and hopefully for the better. Here is the second of four topics (the first two being current legislation) that are in the “hot seat” as we round up the first half of 2014:

H.R. – 4577: Ensuring Seniors Access to Local Pharmacies


Similar to HR 4190, this legislation would amend the Social Security Act. It also focuses on the same Medicare beneficiary groups as follows: Medically Under-served Areas, Medically Under-served Populations, and Health Professional Shortage Areas. However, the bill is written to affect Part D of Medicare, or the part that is most often used in the pharmacy. Under the law, insurance plans would be required to offer preferred network benefits to pharmacies in the previously defined regions.

Current Standing

Although only introduced in last month, this legislation is also picking up steam and already has bipartisan support from 31 congressional representatives 4. Community pharmacies not in a preferred network currently have to either charge patients more for medications and/or net a loss from providing expected, quality care. An article from late 2013 suggested that there are approximately 1,800 pharmacies that are the only provider in their community. Also astounding is the fact that 91% of all community pharmacy owners and operators were non-preferred; on average, these patients then have to travel 20 miles to a pharmacy that can provide savings promised by their insurance plans 5.

How are YOU, the patient, affected?

Similar to H.R. 4190, patients across the country, including all five states where NuCara practices pharmacy, would benefit from increased access to affordable health care. The choice of where to pick up medications or seek health services should be left up to YOU, the patient, not an insurance plan! The restrictions this legislation absorbs directly improve the chances that your local pharmacy and trusted pharmacist will continue to provide exceptional health services and keep their doors open.

Flu Shot FAQs


Flu season is nearly upon us, and that means it’s time to think about getting vaccinated.

At NuCara, we’re doing our best to increase the number of flu shots available to our customers this year. We’ve recently teamed up with A Million More, a national health initiative, to help our communities improve their health. We hope to help with A Million More’s mission to provide a million more people with a flu vaccine this year.

If you have questions about the flu and vaccination, we’ve answered a few of the most frequently asked ones here:

What are common flu symptoms?

Common symptoms include a sore throat, coughing, difficulty breathing, nausea, vomiting, muscle aches, fever, runny nose, chills, dizziness and extreme fatigue. 

Who is at highest risk for contracting the virus?

While everyone is at risk of getting the flu, young children, seniors, pregnant women, and those already experiencing health complications are at the highest risk for contracting the virus and experiencing the worse side effects.

Who can/can’t get receive the vaccination?

Different shots are approved for different people. Many (but not all shots) are offered to anyone older than six months, but some are not approved for children under the age of six or pregnant women.

Is a shot the only form of vaccination?

Fortunately for needle-phobes, this year a vaccination is also available as a nasal spray, FluMist. Some of our local pharmacies carry it – stop in to see if your location does. 

What else can I do to prevent the flu?

Though the shot is recommended as the best prevention, you can and should also avoid close contact with other sick people, eat and sleep well, and wash your hands frequently. Also be sure to avoid spreading germs by covering your mouth when you sneeze or cough, and staying home if you are already sick and contagious.

How can I treat the flu if I’ve already caught it?

Get plenty of rest and sleep, and drink plenty of clear liquids to stay hydrated. Over-the-counter medications can provide relief for common symptoms. Consult a doctor who can provide you with proper medication and treatment for more severe symptoms.


Stay healthy this season and become one of the million more people we provide with a vaccination this year.