Zufall Health’s New Medication Delivery Service Improves Access to Pharmacy Care
Zufall Health’s new, free medication delivery service provides patients with safe and convenient access to prescription drugs at affordable prices. Begun in November 2022, nearly 400 Zufall patients have had medications delivered to their homes or workplaces by way of the health center’s dedicated delivery vehicle and driver.
Accessing in-person medication pickup can be difficult for Zufall patients for a variety of reasons, including transportation, work obligations, or health issues that limit mobility. The new service, available to Zufall medical patients who use Goodale Prescription Pharmacy near our Dover headquarters, makes it easier for patients to start their medications on time and avoid interruptions in their treatments.
“The fact that our patients are serviced quickly means that they will initiate their pharmacotherapy earlier, improving their conditions and probably reducing aggravating circumstances such as missing work or ending up in an emergency room due to the lack of access to their medications. This progressive approach closes some gaps in the care we provide to our patients,” said Lina Calderon, MSN-FNP, an advance practice nurse – family medicine at Zufall Health.
The delivery service is supported by a U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) Rural Development grant that Zufall received to improve access to care in rural, underserved areas. In addition to the van and driver, the USDA grant equipped Zufall to hire two new pharmacists. Representative Josh Gottheimer (NJ-5), who was instrumental in advocating for the funding, announced the award in a December press conference at Zufall’s Newton location. In his remarks, Rep. Gottheimer described the service’s positive, far-reaching impact on our community.
“Think about a senior citizen who can’t drive anymore…Think about someone who may have trouble walking or getting up and down stairs…Or even a parent who might be working long hours and can’t make it to the pharmacy to pick up meds for their kids. If people can’t get their medicines…it leads to more health care challenges and strain on our health care system,” Rep. Gottheimer said.
Indeed, medication nonadherence, or not taking medication as prescribed, costs the U.S. health care system between $100 and $300 billion annually, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Further, the CDC reports that 20 percent of prescriptions are never filled. Among those filled, half are taken incorrectly, “particularly with regard to timing, dosage, frequency, and duration.” These trends are especially alarming for populations that are more vulnerable to chronic diseases.
Importantly, medications provided through the delivery service are available at prices that Zufall patients can afford. Goodale Prescription Pharmacy is one of Zufall’s 15 partner pharmacies participating in the 340B Drug Pricing program, a federal program through which community health centers like Zufall provide heavily discounted prescription drugs to their patients. The 340B program provides a vital safety net for people who, like the majority of Zufall’s patients, do not have health insurance and earn low incomes.
“Prior to the introduction of the delivery service, some of my patients in Hackettstown who couldn’t make it to Dover were forced to obtain their medications at a local pharmacy at much higher prices,” explained Calderon.
“The delivery service allows us to address multiple social determinants of health at once,” said Frances Palm, MPA, who began her role as Zufall’s president and chief executive officer earlier this month and was critical to promoting patient access to affordable medication in her previous role of chief operating officer. “We look forward to measuring the service’s impact and the reduction of health disparities among our patient population.”