Health systems with pharmacy operations should make every effort to include pharmacists on committees tasked with quality improvement. This includes ensuring that they are included on all medication-related committees, such as pain management, education and training, and safety.
Pharmacists have the broadest knowledge base regarding medication management and https://boomerbenefits.
Whether it is assisting patients with accessing prescription medications for low cost or promoting the use of non-pharmacologic interventions, pharmacists can help their patients improve their health outcomes through preventive care.
As healthcare delivery shifts from episodic to longitudinal, modern pharmacy may be tasked with taking an expanded role in community health. A focus on customization of patient care, a commitment to cultural competency, and attention to health literacy are key components of the pharmacy profession’s mission that support this new emphasis on longitudinal care.
In addition to providing a wide range of preventive services at their pharmacies, including free health screenings and advising on over-the-counter products, pharmacists can collaborate with local health departments and community organizations to provide services such as vaccinations and annual checkups. As medication-use experts and experienced health system administrators, pharmacists can also contribute to public health legislation and regulation through advocacy in their communities, state boards of pharmacy, and national associations.
Medication adherence remains an issue, with up to 50% of patients not following their prescriber’s orders. This leads to poorer health outcomes, escalating medical expenses, and increased hospitalizations. Pharmacists can offer their expertise in promoting adherence to their patients through education, counseling, and helping them to navigate the complex web of pharmaceutical medications.
Considering the social determinants of healthcare, such as poverty, disparities in access to healthcare and education, racism, and lack of healthcare insurance coverage, it is important for pharmacists to be aware of and consider the impact these factors can have on a patient’s ability to access and benefit from clinical preventive care services. Pharmacists can be a valuable resource to help their patients overcome these barriers by offering prescription discount cards, referring them to healthcare providers who are culturally competent, and ensuring that they understand the guidelines for clinical preventive services outlined in Healthy People 2020 (1-3).
In an age when chronic illnesses such as hypertension, diabetes, and HIV require lengthy medication treatment regimens, pharmacists are well-positioned to help patients understand the intricacies of their medications. This counseling, which is often done as part of a multidisciplinary team, helps promote patient compliance.
Educating patients can also be an opportunity to address their beliefs, as these may play a significant role in whether or not they take their medications seriously. In this case, it is essential that pharmacists engage in respectful dialogue and explore diverse perspectives.
Another opportunity for pharmacists to provide education is to assess a patient’s learning style, as well as their sensory and physical status. In doing so, they can ensure that information and educational materials are tailored to each individual. For example, a patient who suffers from poor vision might require enlarged labeling on prescription containers or instructions in writing to be understood. They might also have trouble opening child-resistant lids on medications or administering devices such as syringes.
Moreover, because pharmacists typically manage the institution’s drug budget, they are aware of cost implications when providing education to patients. As such, they can make informed decisions on the best use of the system’s resources. Additionally, because they are the most accessible healthcare professionals to patients, they can collect data on patient perceptions of and compliance with their medications. In this way, they can identify gaps in the provision of healthcare and inform future changes to patient services.
As the healthcare industry continues to shift towards quality and value, pharmacists will play an important role in medication management. Medication adherence is key to achieving positive outcomes, including cost-effective treatment and better health outcomes. Pharmacists provide a wide range of services to help improve patient adherence, including education and behavior counseling. These interventions have been proven to have significant clinical impact.
Another aspect of medication management is helping patients save on costs by recommending lower-cost alternatives to prescription drugs that have the same effect. Patients might not be aware that using a prescription discount card, applying for patient assistance programs, or purchasing a 90-day supply instead of 30 days can significantly reduce the cost of their medication.
In addition to recommending lower-cost medications, pharmacists can also help patients make informed decisions about their medications. For example, they can explain the difference between generic and brand-name medications. They can also discuss the side effects of certain medications and suggest alternative treatments or ways to manage the side effects.
Many patients are prescribed multiple medications, which can lead to drug interactions or unintended side effects. As a result, it is important for patients to keep an updated list of all their current prescriptions and over-the-counter medications. Patients should bring this list to each visit to the pharmacy and update it whenever a new medication is added or when they change doctors.
In addition to improving medication management, pharmacists can help to reduce waste by identifying opportunities to standardize processes within the hospital or clinic. This will not only improve patient safety, but it can also decrease the hospital’s overall drug budget and save money that could be used for other quality improvement initiatives.
A lack of medication adherence is a major healthcare issue with both direct and indirect costs. Many factors may contribute to a patient’s adherence, and pharmacists can help patients address these issues. Educating patients about their medications is an important aspect of this, but it’s also necessary to determine what barriers may be keeping them from complying with physician drug orders. In addition to education, pharmacists can offer a number of solutions such as reminder calls or texts, automatic refills, or even small details like splitting pills when necessary or providing easy-off caps. The more trust a patient develops in their pharmacist, the more likely they are to be open about apprehensions or obstacles.
Our experts also discussed the importance of integrating pharmacists into a patient-centered healthcare experience. This can be done in multiple ways, such as by involving them in patient-centered medical home models or having them embedded within ambulatory care teams. Additionally, they can lead quality improvement projects, as they have both the expertise and the constant presence in the hospital to do so.
Finally, pharmacists should work closely with the institution’s Department of Quality Management to ensure that all possible opportunities for collaboration are explored. This department typically oversees the organization’s adherence to regulatory standards regarding medication-related measures, so it’s important that the pharmacy has full access to the data. Moreover, the Department of Quality Management should be made aware that the pharmacist’s involvement in these efforts will ultimately result in better outcomes for patients.
One of the most important things pharmacists do is ensure patients receive the right medication, in the correct dose, at the right time, and via the right route. They also help patients manage their medications by reviewing the full list of prescribed drugs, ensuring that they work together properly, and identifying potential issues such as drug interactions and contraindications. They also screen for potentially fatal interactions with opioids and facilitate access to the lifesaving overdose reversal drug Narcan(r) for patients at risk.
In addition, they are often a central point of contact for patients with questions about their medications and can help them navigate the sometimes complex healthcare system. As a result, they are often called upon to provide clinical services such as health screenings, immunization administration, and smoking cessation programs.
Another key aspect of pharmacists’ role is to participate in quality improvement and error-reporting activities in the hospital. They are often able to contribute valuable insight to these efforts due to their extensive knowledge of the medication management system and how it operates.
As a whole, pharmacists have a lot of room for growth and can bring a wealth of value to their hospitals and communities. However, they need infrastructural and cultural changes before they can fully realize their full potential. For example, it would be beneficial to have a single, integrated record system that allows all healthcare providers to have access to the information they need. That way, they can better coordinate and collaborate on patient care and improve outcomes. This is something that can be accomplished by integrating the pharmacy into the medical records system. This will allow pharmacists to work directly with physicians and nurses and provide the insight they need in real time to deliver better healthcare.