Pharmacist Spotlight: Lainey Ruby

Meet Lainey Ruby! Lainey is one of our talented clinical pharmacists and this month we would like to spotlight her.

Specialty: Lainey’s specialty as a clinical pharmacist is chronic condition management. She also has an interest in mental health and diabetes management.

Favorite part about working at Tria Health: here are many things Lainey enjoys about working at Tria Health. Ultimately, she loves working directly with patients to help improve their medications and health conditions. She especially love educating on non-pharmacologic therapy and lifestyle changes, which are used in conjunction with medications to help improve their conditions.

Career Goals: Within next year, Lainey plans to complete requirements for Certified Diabetes Care and Education Specialist

Outside of work, Lainey plans on marrying her fiancé in June, they have been together for about 7-8 years! She also enjoy spending time outside, especially with her german shepherd dogs. Lainey’s favorite part of the summer is taking our dogs to the lake and watching them run and jump off the dock to swim.

Pharmacist Spotlight

Meet Annie Barry! Annie is one of our talented clinical pharmacists and this month we would like to spotlight her.

Specialty: Annie’s specialty as a clinical pharmacist is in chronic condition management. She is planning on specializing as a diabetes educator this year.

Favorite parts about working at Tria Health: There are many things Annie enjoys about working at Tria Health. She loves being able to hear about a patient’s background and how they got to where they are now. History with medications and conditions make a major impact with medication therapy management and determining what is best for patients. Her favorite part of working at Tria Health is the comradery and teamwork between not just the clinical team, but all teams within the company! To her, Tria Health feels like a family.

Career Goals: Annie’s long-term career goal is to become a Board-Certified Ambulatory Care pharmacist. This year, her goal is to become a certified diabetes educator.

Outside of work, Annie enjoys traveling, food and working out. She likes trying new activities and loves spring and summer for outdoor activities. We are so thankful to have Annie on our team!

Health Literacy

Managing chronic health conditions can be difficult when patients have low health literacy. Navigating and understanding a complex health care system is challenging. With the right training, health care professionals can communicate with patients more appropriately depending on their health literacy level.2

What is Health Literacy?

The CDC has defined Health literacy as:

  1. Personal health literacy: the degree to which individuals can find, understand and use information and services to inform health-related decisions and actions for themselves and others.1
  2. Organizational health literacy: the degree to which organizations equitably enable individuals to find, understand and use information and services to inform health-related decisions and actions for themselves and others.1

Health literacy is simply your ability to understand information about your body and health.5 Based on these definitions, people and organizations can use their health literacy skills to improve the health of their communities.1

Low Health Literacy Factors

Low health literacy leads to communication barriers between patients and their healthcare providers. It also results in a variety of negative health outcomes for patients.4 A few factors that lead to low health literacy are:

  • Education4
  • Age: on average, adults aged 65 and older have lower health literacy than adults under 65.4
  • Poverty4
  • Access to resources such as technology5
  • Language5
  • Culture5
  • Having a health condition that requires complex self-care.5

Why Health Literacy is Important

Understanding health information and services affects your health outcomes. Your level of health literacy determines your ability to navigate through the healthcare system, utilize preventative services and share your personal information with healthcare providers.5 Furthermore, having good health literacy skills enables you to:

  • Understand the choices you have about treatments, doctors and other items related to your condition.5
  • Stick to your treatment plan.5
  • Answer questions about your health conditions.5
  • Decide which services and options are best for you.5

Steps to Improve Your Health Literacy

If you would like to improve your health literacy:

  1. Ask questions: Do not be afraid to ask your healthcare professional questions. Explain that you are having a hard time understanding, they will be happy to help.5
  2. Ask for handouts: Handouts or other materials are helpful at explaining complicated information.5
  3. Do not believe everything that you read on the internet: Not all medical information websites are reviewed by experts. A good way to check if a website is reputable is to make sure the information is reviewed, confirmed and supported by different organizations.5
  4. Repeat what your doctor tells you in your own words: This will give you an opportunity to clarify anything that you misunderstood or discover anything you misheard.5

Tria Health & Health Literacy:

Tria Health is a no cost benefit available through select members’ health plans. Tria Health’s Pharmacy Advocate Program offers one-on-one, private consultations with a Tria Health Pharmacist. During your consultation, your pharmacist will review all your current medications, including vitamins and supplements. Tria Health will assist you in identifying any possible drug interactions or savings opportunities! Your pharmacist will work with you and your doctor(s) to ensure the intended outcomes from your medications are being received. Tria Health is here to help patients navigate their way through the multifaceted process of attaining care and properly utilizing their benefits. Our pharmacists take the time to make sure patients understand their conditions and how to effectively manage them.

Patient Success Story: Tria Triumph

Data does not lie; the real challenge lies when patients do not understand their data. Health literacy is key in this Tria Triumph.

A patient with diabetes had a consultation with one of our pharmacists. Her blood sugars were all over the place and she was feeling down. Our pharmacist uncovered that this patient was not taking her medications correctly and was also using an expired insulin pen. She did not completely understand her diagnosis, or the purpose of her medications.

Our pharmacist took the time to educate her on what diabetes is and how it affects her body. Additionally, our pharmacist recommended she talk with her doctor about an easier medication regimen.

Now this patient feels fantastic! Her doctor accepted the medication changes, and she is taking her medications as our pharmacist advised. Her blood sugar readings are excellent, and she feels better.

Because of the Tria Health program, this patient understands her diagnosis, knows how to effectively manage it and has the confidence to discuss outcomes with her providers.

Questions?

Contact the Tria Health Help Desk at 1.888.799.8742

Sources:

  1. What Is Health Literacy? | Health Literacy | CDC
  2. Health Literacy | Official web site of the U.S. Health Resources & Services Administration (hrsa.gov)
  3. Health Literacy | National Institutes of Health (NIH)
  4. Health Literacy | Healthy People 2020
  5. Health Literacy: Why it’s Important and How to Improve it (breastcancer.org)

Pharmacist Spotlight: Sarah Ochs

We have such an awesome clinical team at Tria Health. This month, we would like to spotlight one of our pharmacists. Meet Sarah Ochs!

About Sarah: Sarah is a proud military wife. Her husband is an officer in the US Navy, who recently returned home safely from a record deployment, 206 days at sea, with Carrier Strike Group TEN. They have two fantastic boys, ages two and four, who keep them laughing and enjoying life’s many adventures!

Specialties: Sarah is a Certified Diabetes Care and Education Specialist (CDCES). She is also the FIRST pharmacist in the country to carry the designation of Certified Specialist in Obesity and Weight Management (CSOWM). She is fascinated by the effect that weight gain/loss, physical activity, and food choices can complement medications to support her patient’s healthcare goals. Her next career goal is to be a Board Certified Ambulatory Care Pharmacist (BCACP).

Favorite part of her job: THE PATIENTS! Patient care is Sarah’s passion as she genuinely enjoys her job and patient interactions. She learns about her patient’s health care goals and supports them as a whole person. Sarah takes into consideration busy life schedules, personal beliefs, medication preferences, prescription affordability, among many other factors, to help her patients achieve their goals. For Sarah, knowing that she is making a positive impact on her patient’s health and well-being is truly rewarding.

Favorite part about working at Tria Health: THE TEAM! Her clinical team and work family is hands down her favorite part. She is confident in every pharmacist’s abilities and honored to be their coworker. Sarah feels supported by the clinical team’s fearless leader, Jason Grace, and empowered to ask questions and challenge one another. At Tria Health, Sarah feels accepted for who she is, sunshine and rainbows with a sprinkle of glitter hugs. 😊

Sarah feels truly blessed to be a part of this incredible company. Teamwork makes the dream work!

Safety of Vaccinations

Image Source: Canva

The CDC considers vaccinations to be one of the top 10 public health achievements of the 20th century.1-3 Thanks to vaccines, the incidence, morbidity, mortality, and prevalence of vaccine-preventable diseases have considerably diminished since vaccinations became available. However, now that the COVID-19 vaccine has finally arrived, consumers are wondering whether it will be safe.

If you are having COVID-19 vaccine hesitation, know that the FDA has considered the vaccine adequately safe and effective. The Pfizer and Moderna vaccine have both received Emergency Use Authorization (EUA) from the FDA for public use. To further ease any vaccine fears, below is information about vaccine safety, facts and myths about the COVID-19 vaccine and the benefit vaccines have on your health.

How the COVID-19 Vaccine works

This new vaccine works unlike any previous vaccinations, using a molecule called messenger RNA (mRNA) in a mechanism researchers have been developing for over 30 years. When infected with COVID-19, the virus uses a “spike protein” to attach and enter human cells. The vaccine uses mRNA to provide the body with a blueprint which stimulates human cells to make their own version of a spike protein (not the real virus) that triggers the immune system to make antibodies against it. Once the body makes antibodies against this synthetic spike protein, the body will be able to recognize the actual COVID-19 viral protein and quickly fight the real virus before it attaches to human cells and causes harm.

Herd Immunity

Herd immunity is when a large portion of a community (herd) becomes immune to a disease, lessening the spread of the disease from person to person. Current research shows that the development of natural immunity in people who have previously built-up antibodies from COVID-19 is not going to be enough to cause herd immunity within the community. Not everyone with a previous COVID-19 diagnosis is developing natural antibodies which protect against the spread of the virus, and those who do develop antibodies may begin to lose them over time. Therefore, routine vaccination against COVID-19 is essential to prevent living through another pandemic a year full of face masks and social distancing. Vaccines will first be prioritized to high-risk populations, including healthcare personnel and long-term care facilities. Recommendations suggest 2 shots into the muscle of the upper arm 3-4 weeks apart depending on the manufacturer (Pfizer vs Moderna). Per the FDA, available data currently shows receiving 2 doses of the vaccine is between 90.3% to 97.6% effective at preventing COVID-19.

The benefits vaccines have on health

There are two main benefits for vaccination:

  1. You can help lower your chance of getting certain disease
    • Hepatitis B vaccine lowers your risk of liver cancer.
    • HPV vaccine lowers your risk of cervical cancer.
    • Flu vaccine lowers your risk of flu-related heart attacks or other flu-related complications from existing health conditions like diabetes and chronic lung disease.
  2. You can lower your chance of spreading disease.
    • Some people in your family or community may not be able to get certain vaccines due to their age or health condition. They rely on you to help prevent the spread of disease.
    • Infants, older adults, and people with weakened immune systems (like those undergoing cancer treatment) are especially vulnerable to infectious disease.10

Facts surrounding the COVID-19 vaccine

There is now an authorized and recommended COVID-19 vaccination in the Unites States and many people are concerned about its safety. It is crucial to make sure you are getting accurate information about the vaccination. Below are FACTS from the CDC about COVID-19 vaccines:

  1. The COVID-19 vaccine will not give you COVID-19. It is not a traditional vaccination, currently none of the COVID-19 vaccines use the live virus that causes COVID-19. This vaccination helps our bodies fight the virus without us having to get the illness.
  2. Even if you have gotten sick with COVID-19, you may benefit from getting vaccinated. Re-infection is possible; therefore, it is advised to get a vaccination even if you have had COVID-19 before.
  3. Right now, there is a limited supply of the vaccine in the United States, but more will come in the following weeks and months.
  4. Getting a vaccine that uses mRNA will not change your DNA.  The COVID-19 vaccine contains mRNA or messenger ribonucleic acid which is best described as instructions for how to make a protein. It is important to know that that mRNA is not able to alter a person’s DNA. The mRNA from the COVID-19 vaccine will not enter the nucleus of the cell, where our DNA is found.

Myths surrounding the COVID-19 vaccine

There is a lot of misinformation about the COVID-19 vaccination. Below are MYTHS about the vaccine:

  1. Other immunizations such as the flu shot will prevent COVID-19.
  2. Infertility or other serious medical problems will occur if you get the COVID-19 vaccine.
  3. You will get a positive COVID-19 viral test if you get the COVID-19 vaccine.
  4. There will not be enough vaccinations for everyone.

If you are struggling to find credible vaccine information, use this link for recommendations of trustworthy sources: https://www.cdc.gov/vaccines/vac-gen/evalwebs.htm.

Stats on the safety and effectiveness of vaccines

Vaccines are both safe and effective. They go through years of testing before the FDA licenses them for use. Both the CDC and FDA continue to track the safety of all licensed vaccines.6 The CDC tracks the safety of vaccinations through The Vaccine Adverse Event Reporting System (VAERS). VAERS was created in 1990 to detect any potential safety issues with U.S. vaccines. If anyone experiences problems after an immunization, they can submit a report to VAERS. This monitoring system makes it possible to spot any unusual side effects from vaccinations as well as identify any risks for health issues related to vaccinations. If you are ever concerned about the safety of immunizations, you can have peace of mind knowing they are constantly being monitored.9

Below are the facts and figures that show the safety and effectiveness of vaccinations:

  • According to the World Health Organization, immunizations prevent 2-3 million deaths every year from vaccine-preventable diseases.5
  • Most childhood vaccinations are 90% to 99% effective in preventing diseases.7
  • The flu vaccination can reduce the risk of flu illness by between 40% and 60%.6
  • The CDC estimates that immunizations will prevent more than 21 million hospitalizations and 732,000 deaths among children born in the last 20 years.8
  • About 85-90% of vaccine side effects are mild and not serious.9

How Pharmacists can Help

Pharmacists are also in a unique position to identify those patients who are in target groups for certain vaccinations. They may also be able to ease the fears of many patients by providing them with facts such as clinical data and by dispelling common misconceptions and myths about vaccinations; they can also stress the significant risks associated with not being vaccinated.4

Tria Health was founded on the belief that pharmacists play a vital role in the management of high-risk patients. With Tria, you have the option of receiving a one-on-one private consultation with one of Tria Health’s pharmacists over the phone. During your consultation, your pharmacist will review all your current medications, including vitamins, supplements and lifestyle habits. Your pharmacist will be able to answer any questions you may have regarding vaccinations.

Sources:

  1. Oldfield BJ, Stewart RW. Common misconceptions, advancements, and updates in pediatric vaccine administration. South Med J. 2016;109(1):38-41. doi: 10.14423/SMJ.0000000000000399.
  2. Ventola CL. Immunization in the United States: recommendations, barriers, and measures to improve compliance: part 2: adult vaccinations. P T. 2016;41(8):492-506.
  3. Temoka E. Becoming a vaccine champion: evidence-based interventions to address the challenges of vaccination. S D Med. 2013;(theme issue): 68-72.
  4. https://www.pharmacytimes.com/publications/issue/2019/january2019/adult-vaccination-rates-are-rising-but-fall-short
  5. https://www.who.int/news-room/facts-in-pictures/detail/immunization
  6. https://www.cdc.gov/flu/vaccines-work/vaccineeffect.htm#:~:text=Recent%20studies%20show%20flu%20vaccine,to%20the%20flu%20vaccine%20viruses.
  7. https://www.healthychildren.org/English/safety-prevention/immunizations/Pages/Vaccine-Safety-The-Facts.aspx
  8. https://www.cdc.gov/media/releases/2014/p0424-immunization-program.html
  9. https://www.cdc.gov/vaccinesafety/ensuringsafety/monitoring/vaers/index.html
  10. Reasons for Adults to be Vaccinated | CDC
  11. https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/vaccines/vaccine-benefits/facts.html?CDC_AA_refVal=https%3A%2F%2Fwww.cdc.gov%2Fcoronavirus%2F2019-ncov%2Fvaccines%2Fabout-vaccines%2Fvaccine-myths.html
  12. https://coronavirus.ohio.gov/wps/portal/gov/covid-19/covid-19-vaccination-program/19-vaccine-myths-vs-facts
  13. Herd immunity and COVID-19 (coronavirus): What you need to know – Mayo Clinic