When traveling, many people tend to overlook the importance of travel health. As a pharmacist, you can help bridge this knowledge gap by offering basic travel health services to your patients. In this blog post, we will highlight the top 5 services that any pharmacist can offer to patients before their travels.
Firstly, it's important to understand why offering travel health services is crucial. Canadians love to travel, and international travel has been on the rise since the pandemic. Unfortunately, many travelers, both new and seasoned, are unaware of the health risks associated with travel. Therefore, guidance from a pharmacist may be the first time they consider travel health precautions. Moreover, patients referred to travel clinics by their community pharmacist often do not attend due to cost and lack of awareness of the importance of these services..
With all of this said, all community pharmacists can play a pivotal role in addressing these issues by providing the following::
- Basic travel information: A simple service pharmacists can provide for their patients prior to traveling is ensuring they have taken the proper precautions to insure themselves with travel insurance. Pharmacists can also remind patients of the importance of traveling with a list of medications and their vaccinations. Pharmacists are the best healthcare professionals to help with these lists, and they can be prepared during a medication review done “travel style”.
- Medication review done “travel style”: Conducting a medication review in preparation for travel is an excellent opportunity for pharmacists to help their patients travel with multiple medications seamlessly and prevent any issues before they arise. It’s a good idea to encourage frequent travelers with multiple medications to have a medication review done once yearly. Here are some tips on conducting a “travel style” medication review:
- Include both generic and brand names of medications in the completed list.
- Check the refill status of their medications, and ensure the patient packs an extra supply (e.g. provide one extra week supply if going away for one month).
- Evaluate the medication regimen for potential changes that can be made to make administration more convenient for traveling (e.g. can pills be combined into combination tablets? Can insulin cartridges be substituted for pre-filled pens?).
- Advice on preparing a travel health kit: Pharmacists can also offer valuable advice on preparing a travel health kit. The kit should include essential items such as insect repellent, sunscreen, first aid items, and any over-the-counter medications the patient may need while traveling. Additionally, it is important to include essential documentation such as emergency contact information, medication lists, and insurance information. Make sure to consider access to supplies in the particular country, as additional items may be required if traveling to underdeveloped areas.
- Advice on food and water-borne illness prevention: Travelers are at risk of food and water-borne illnesses such as traveler's diarrhea. Pharmacists can advise patients on how to prevent these illnesses by providing them with information on safe food and water practices while traveling. Here is a resource with helpful tips on eating and drinking safely while traveling: https://travel.gc.ca/travelling/health-safety/food-water
- Ensuring immunizations are up-to-date: Lastly, pharmacists can ensure that a patient's immunizations are up-to-date. Certain destinations require specific vaccines, and it's important to ensure that your patient is protected before they travel. This resource is helpful for checking destination-specific recommendations based on risks in that region: https://travel.gc.ca/travelling/health-safety/vaccines
Pharmacists can greatly benefit from obtaining certification in travel health to expand their expertise and services offered to patients. Certification helps pharmacists establish themselves as experts in the field and enables them to offer even more specialized care to patients seeking travel health advice. Additionally, offering travel health services can be a great way to attract new patients and build stronger relationships with existing ones.For more information on the travel health certification course from ISTM, visit their website : https://www.istm.org/certificateofknowledge#istmcertintravhealth.
In conclusion, offering travel health services is an excellent way for pharmacists to help their patients stay healthy while traveling. By providing basic information, medication reviews, advice on travel health kits, food and water-borne illness prevention, and ensuring immunizations are up-to-date, pharmacists can help patients have a safe and enjoyable trip. If you and your pharmacy team are looking for a streamlined solution to promoting, scheduling, and providing simple or advanced travel health services, visit us at MedEssist to learn more about our Travel Health platform!