POCATELLO — Beginning in early October 2020, select community pharmacies started providing enhanced, rapid response COVID-19 testing services to Idaho residents. The COVID-19 Rapid Antigen Testing Expansion Program seeks to expand the existing capacity for COVID-19 testing across Idaho by delivering rapid antigen point-of-care testing, as well as self-administered nasal swab sample collection.
Grant funds from the Idaho Board of Pharmacy have allowed the ISU College of Pharmacy to purchase new equipment that will be delivered to up to 30 community pharmacies who have opted into the program. The machine, called the “BD Veritor™ Plus System for Rapid Detection of SARS-CoV-2” was selected because of the availability of testing kits. This on-demand, rapid results test is effective, with results available within 15 minutes, and is deployable in rural areas, user-friendly and cost-effective.
Citizens who have experienced symptoms within five days of seeking testing, including Medicaid recipients and uninsured patients, will be eligible to receive a rapid antigen test. All other individuals will be tested via a self-administered nasal swab, and samples will be transferred to an in-state laboratory for analysis and reporting. Additionally, patients who test negative on the point of care testing will also be given a confirmatory nasal swab test. These lab results will be available within 48-72 hours.
ISU contracted with Community Pharmacy Enhanced Services Network of Idaho to enroll network pharmacies that provide enhanced services as testing sites, with the goal of enrolling a total of 30 statewide. Each of Idaho’s seven public health districts will have at least one participating pharmacy, with special attention paid to rural, sparsely populated areas.
CPESN-ID member pharmacies are ideal public health partners because of the range of enhanced services they provide, including face-to-face access to pharmacists; medication reconciliation; clinical medical synchronization, disease state management and monitoring; immunizations; comprehensive medication reviews and collaboration on patient care plans; and a personal medication record. For additional information about the services offered at CPESN-ID Network pharmacies, visit https://cpesn.com/payors/services-available-from-cpesn-network-pharmacies/.
Participating pharmacies will bill Idaho Medicaid for service delivery and sample collection. In this initial phase, the rapid antigen tests are free to the patient because they are covered by grant funding. However, patients may need to pay up to $95 for lab-based swab analysis, depending on their insurance status. Most insurance companies are covering this cost, and the lab has funds to cover the costs for Medicaid and uninsured patients.
Shanna O’Connor, PharmD, BCACP, assistant clinical professor for the College of Pharmacy says, “The ultimate goal is to establish community-based pharmacies as key testing partners and develop a sustainable reimbursement model to support these partners. We are thankful to have the support of the Idaho Board of Pharmacy, who provided the seed program funding to cover the costs while reimbursement models are developed with private and public insurers.”
The included chart shows participating pharmacies, including hours of operation and contact information.