The role of pharmacists is changing, here’s what to know
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New research from the Columbia University Mailman School of Public Health finds patients and physicians share widespread trust in pharmacists. This is welcome news as pharmacists in the United States are poised to take on additional responsibilities to help fill the growing care gap expected from health care provider shortages in the next decade.
The Prescription of Trust report is the result of the largest and most comprehensive research study on the future role of pharmacists that incorporates the voice of patients, prescribers and pharmacists. The study was commissioned by Express Scripts Pharmacy, one of the nation’s largest and most experienced home delivery pharmacies, to understand the expanding role of pharmacists.
“The COVID pandemic has spotlighted pharmacists’ accessibility and the trust people have in them as health care professionals,” said Susan Peppers, RPh, chief pharmacist of Express Scripts Pharmacy, an Evernorth company.
Patients are ready… so are prescribers.
Nearly 80% of patients see pharmacists as an integral part of their health care team. Doctors and other health care providers are already turning to pharmacists more often for support — 72% consider pharmacists to be part of their health care team, working together to provide the best care for patients.
“As the shortage of doctors and nurses persists, and as complex new therapies and digital health care technology solutions are developed, the role of the pharmacist will continue to evolve,” said John McHugh, MBA, PhD, an assistant professor in the Department of Health Policy and Management at Columbia University Mailman School of Public Health.
The Prescription of Trust: Key Takeaways.
• Taking on a bigger role: In some states, pharmacists can already prescribe certain types of medication. As physician and nurse practitioner shortages escalate, there is a growing movement for pharmacists to receive more training in diagnosing minor and acute conditions and prescribing medication to treat them.
“Beyond dispensing prescription medications and providing medication advice, many of our pharmacists are already specially trained in specific diseases, allowing them to discuss disease and medication management directly with a patient as well as in conjunction with their health care provider team,” explained Peppers.
• Counseling patients: Expect pharmacists to spend more time proactively counseling patients on medications and overall wellness. Telepharmacy is particularly conducive for this level of care as patients are often more comfortable asking questions about their medications from the privacy of home, and without the distractions at a pharmacy counter. Telepharmacists can take time to answer your medication questions. In fact, according to the study, of pharmacists who use telepharmacy, more than a third say it gives them more time to interact with patients.
• Managing chronic diseases: Estimates predict that by 2025, 164 million Americans will have a chronic disease. As the need to support patients with chronic disease grows, you can expect pharmacists to step up to the plate by serving as specialists who advise patients, or by interacting with a larger health team to manage complex care. At the forefront of this trend are pharmacists in ambulatory clinics, hospitals and home delivery pharmacies. Indeed, Express Scripts Pharmacy is already supporting patients with such conditions as diabetes, HIV, and cardiovascular conditions through its Therapeutic Resource Centers. In these centers, pharmacists are trained to focus on the treatment and management of specific conditions.
For health care news, along with helpful tips from pharmacists on how to stay safe and healthy, visit Express Scripts Pharmacy at express-scripts.com/pharmacy/blog.
“On the medication front, your pharmacist is a member of your care team who can see you from a 360-degree perspective,” says Peppers. “For this reason, pharmacists have always been uniquely positioned to be a frontline member of your overall health care.”