5 ways pharmacists can help improve patient care

As the healthcare system shifts towards quality and efficiency, pharmacists can play an integral role, focusing on medication management, medication reconciliation, preventive care and patient education, according to an independent report released by Avalere Health.

The American Society of Health-System Pharmacists (ASHP) applauded the report. "Few professions have been studied to the extent pharmacists have with regards to improving patient outcomes and decreasing healthcare costs," ASHP CEO Paul Abramowitz said in a statement. "This report, combined with numerous studies spanning nearly 40 years, will hopefully enhance the case that pharmacists need to be recognized as healthcare providers in the Social Security Act."

The report examined five areas in which pharmacists could enhance coordinated care:

  1. Medication management: Pharmacists can play a role helping patients with chronic diseases have better medication adherence and clinical outcomes.

  2. Medication reconciliation: Pharmacists help detect and reduce medication discrepancies and increase benefits through comprehensive transition of care programs, especially among post-discharge patients with an elevated risk of readmission.

  3. Preventive care services: Pharmacists play a key role in immunization services and identifying vaccine candidates. They also provide screening services, and have great access to the community, which accountable care organizations (ACOs) could leverage for their benefit.

  4. Education and behavior counseling: Pharmacist-provided behavioral counseling improves medication adherence and therapeutic outcomes in patients with chronic conditions, and can play a major role in other types of pharmacist interventions shown to improve outcomes.

  5. Collaborative care models: Team-based care that includes pharmacists improve outcomes among patients with chronic conditions, and can alleviate demand for physician-provided care, as well as give access to primary care services related to medication management.

"As payment and delivery models such as ACOs and PCMHs [patient-centered medical homes] become more prominent, they will further shape the opportunities for pharmacists to contribute their services to deliver more efficient patient care," the report states. "Moving forward, it will be critical that reimbursement policies are aligned to incent appropriate utilization of pharmacist services in order to deliver the highest value healthcare to patients."

To learn more:
- here's the report
- read the ASHP statement