Objectives: To review opportunities through which pharmacists can help the United States achieve its public health goals as expressed in Healthy People 2010, a document issued by the federal government that expresses the areas of focus for Americans in the first decade of the 21st century.
Summary: Healthy People 2010 provides general goals for 10 leading health indicators (such as tobacco use, over-weight and obesity, and immunizations), and these are then further subdivided into 28 focus areas, many of them with quantifiable goals (such as, "Reduce hospitalization rates for three ambulatory care-sensitive conditions--pediatric asthma, uncontrolled diabetes, and immunization-preventable pneumonia and influenza."). As health care professionals, pharmacists have the responsibility to help the country meet these goals. Ideas for increased pharmacist involvement are described in the article, including the conduct of screening programs and provision of specialized services that focus on such areas as hypertension, diabetes, asthma, patient education, smoking cessation, or general medication management. Pharmacists can build their efforts in these and similar areas by collaborating with physicians and other appropriate professionals, identifying target patients who have obtained services at the pharmacy, contacting patients in at-risk populations within the pharmacy's patient base and/or the community, choosing and monitoring an objective of interest, and maintaining efforts for sustained time periods.
Conclusion: The message of Healthy People 2010 is that the health of the individual is closely linked to the health of the community and hence the health of the nation. Pharmacists, uniquely positioned as the most accessible health care providers in the community, can dedicate their considerable strengths toward using Healthy People 2010 as a tool to organize their own efforts and motivate their patients.