Pharmacists take on bigger role, authority in healthcare

Like many other non-physician providers, pharmacists are taking on a more prominent role in healthcare, leading them to solidify their relationships with patients and improving outcomes. 

In California, a new law expanded Golden State pharmacists' authority, allowing them to provide birth control directly to patients as well as provide travel medications, lab tests and smoking-cessation medications, Sarah McBane, president of the California Pharmacists Association, told the San Diego Union-Tribune.

Historically, pharmacists have taken a background role in the care process. But pharmacists now focus on the provider-patient relationship and many have separate spaces or rooms available so they can discuss issues with patients in private, McBane said.

A new study published in the Journal of the American Pharmacists Association also shows the bigger role pharamcists can play in patient care. Researchers, led by Scot H. Simpson of the University of Alberta in Canada, analyzed blood pressure control in type 2 diabetes patients and found that adding pharmacists to primary care teams led to a significant improvement in patient outcomes.

Seeking to further identify what specific pharmacist interventions contributed to better outcomes, Simpson and his team, through further research, found patients' blood pressure was twice as likely to improve after a change in their blood pressure medications. A pharmacist presence, Simpson said, allows time to reconcile and manage medications and identify any drug-related problems.

A seat at the table for clinical pharmacists can also help hospitals' bottom lines, as medication errors are a major driver of preventable readmissions, FierceHealthcare previously reported. Through pharmacist-provider collaboration on discharge medication, Minneapolis' Hennepin County Medical Center cut 30-day readmissions by 40 percent.

To learn more:
- read the San Diego Union-Tribune article
- here's the study abstract