According to the CDC, more than 3.5 million Americans live with an autism spectrum disorder (ASD), with autism in children increasing by 119 percent in 2014. Little has been reported on how healthcare providers, including pharmacists, can improve healthcare access and delivery for adolescents and adults living with these disorders. With this in mind, the team at the Center for Autism Services and Transition (CAST) at The Ohio State University decided to take matters into their own hands and create videos that help their patients.
Pressing Play on Better Patient Care
Created in 2014, the CAST program offers specialized primary care services for teens and adults who have been diagnosed with autism spectrum disorders and other complex disabilities. It is the only place in central Ohio, and one of the few places in the nation, where patients can access multiple services in one setting from experienced physicians who provide comprehensive care for individuals with complex healthcare needs. Dr. Debra Barnette, a clinical pharmacist at the College of Pharmacy, was one of the first pharmacist providers in the CAST program.
Barnette played an integral role in moving patient care forward by securing grant funding for the project through Autism Speaks, which led to the creation of three videos for the CAST clinic. The videos include information on what to expect when visiting the clinic, getting blood drawn and testing blood pressure. Each of these areas can present significant barriers to effective primary care for patients with ASD. The CAST team worked with patients and caregivers to identify information and content that would help them know what to expect before, during and after their visit.
“My team supportive role was to collaboratively conceptualize typical problems our patients face when receiving care and break them down in a way that is easier to understand and address,” Barnette said. “These videos aren’t only beneficial for patients, but for their caregivers and our practitioners. They provide insight for everyone involved.”
“From this experience, I learned more about autism and how pharmacists can make a difference in caring for patients with ASD.”
Spreading the Word
The videos are not only shared with visitors of the clinic, but with local and state primary care providers as well. The CAST clinic aims to help providers across the country make the healthcare experience better for patients with autism. Looking forward, Barnette hopes the clinic can create more videos to help those with autism receive the care they deserve in a way that suits their needs. Medication administration including insulin pen use is an area of need.
“Our team wants the work coming out of our clinic to be seen as a resource for anyone who cares for patients with ASD and needs this type of information,” Barnette said.
As for pharmacists who counsel patients with autism or other complex disabilities, Barnette sees medication as an important piece of the patient care puzzle.
Skylar Fought is Marketing Coordinator at The Ohio State University College of Pharmacy.