A new year is upon us and the pharmacy profession faces numerous issues, challenges and opportunities that are more abundant and at the same time more complex than perhaps they have ever been before in the history of the practice of our profession. New and fast paced pharmacy technological advancements and extremely rapid changes in disease treatments lead the way, but constantly changing laws and legislation, insurance issues, plus the explosion of specialty pharmacies have made change the norm in the past decade. One can only forecast that this trend of rapid change will continue and perhaps even accelerate over the next few years starting with 2020.
What Do these Changes in the Practice of Pharmacy Really Mean?
The explosion of “real time” media attention that now exists, plus a more educated and informed patient population have both certainly resulted in one major significant change: the roles that pharmacists play as part of the Healthcare Team are both expanding and becoming more demanding on our skills. The result is that pharmacists are being challenged now more than ever to be at the “center” regarding total patient care. Our traditional role and focus is no longer centered only on our expertise regarding a patient’s medications and prescriptions, but perhaps has shifted to the pharmacist being the central player in ensuring a patient’s well being. This means both increased involvement with all other Healthcare professionals, as well as increased communication with physicians, nurses, ancillary healthcare staff, caretakers, insurance companies and of course, the patients themselves and their families.
The Pharmacist MUST Communicate and Educate
The vitally important role that we here at Healthcare Consultants can clearly see the pharmacist now filling (and the role ever growing and increasing in the future) is one of being both the “communicator” and the “educator”. One of the reasons this is taking place is that if you drew a diagram of all the healthcare roles and functions that are involved in ensuring the best possible patient care, the pharmacist is in most cases and scenarios at the very center. It is the pharmacist who must ensure that there is always an accurate flow of information taking place between all of then numerous healthcare team members to ensure the best outcomes and results for their patients. Keep in mind that the R. Ph. who often times is the one communicating directly with the patient and their family members. This not only relates to medications and making sure that factors such as accuracy of dosages, appropriate choice of medication for individual patients, correct administration instructions, checking for adverse drug interactions, adequate counseling and of course compliance all take place. The real focus has become education. After all, who is the real expert on drugs and medications? Once again the most recent Gallup poll shows that Pharmacists are at the top of the list for the most trusted professionals (see Gallup Poll). The public respects a Pharmacist’s knowledge, ethics, expertise and opinions. Add to this that studies have shown that patients are “more likely to be honest when talking to their pharmacist versus their doctor”. This was related to the fact that most patients interacted with their community druggist much more often than with their physicians or with any other healthcare providers on a “routine basis”. One example cited was a patient who had a total of 11 different physicians! Additionally, the point can be made that the specialization of physician care has led the public to view doctors as “only focusing on their piece of the overall picture” and leaves the pharmacist as the “overseer” who manages the entire patient care. This can be especially true when settings such as clinics and large multi-staff physician practices are involved.
What’s the “Bottom Line” Regarding the Change Taking Place?
The point is that a pharmacist’s role is no longer viewed as it previously was in the past as simply being a “pill counter, placing a label on the bottle and then being a cashier”. As a profession we are now responsible legally for counseling our patients, plus must initiate the increased communication with an expanding number of other healthcare team members to ensure our patients’ receive the best possible treatment available. This direction is a “must’ for each of us to understand and undertake in order to ensure increased patient medication compliance and provide the best healthcare available. This means expanding our own skills and education to perform tasks that perhaps many of us never did before (Pharmacogenetic testing is a great example as discussed in one of our posts several years ago – Pharmacogenetic Testing in Community Pharmacies. Physicians, related healthcare practitioners, insurance providers and especially our patients are demanding this of us. It is interesting to note that of the 10 “Top Read Health-System Articles” on Pharmacy Times , over half were about patient and/or physician counseling and communication regarding specific diseases and the pharmacists role as a “team member”.
The real “bottom line” is that 2020 is perhaps one of the most exciting times ever to be practicing pharmacy! The opportunities for us as both individuals and as professionals are almost limitless. Plus they are increasing at a rate never seen before. It is our choice to each participate and play a major role in this “revolution” in US healthcare, or to “sit on the sidelines” as an observer. I hope we all choose wisely.
About HealthCare Consultants
As always, HCC is here to help you in any way that we can. Contact us online or call us today at 800-642-1652 to discuss how we can help you (or just if you’d like to talk about any idea that you may have regarding Pharmacy!). Healthcare Consultants is a nationally renowned full service Pharmacy staffing and consulting firm that has been in business for over 30+ years. Owned, managed and staffed by full-time in-house Pharmacists, HCC offers a full range of Pharmacy Staffing & Placement, plus is noted for our Pharmacy Consulting Services that other firms simply cannot offer.
From major hospitals and healthcare systems to individual community retail and specialty pharmacies, HCC has been the nationally renowned pharmacy consulting firm of choice for over 30+ years now. We work with businesses of every size – from the corner drug store to national corporations and organizations – with only one goal in mind: to improve your pharmacy’s business operations. We can assist with expert advice in any area of your pharmacy business or practice.
HealthCare Consultants is additionally the leader in pharmacy startups! No other firm has opened and started up as many pharmacies throughout the nation as HCC. Plus, these new pharmacies run efficiently and profitably. Our in-house consulting experts can make sure that you do it right… every step of the way!
We urge you to contact us today to see how our Pharmacy Consulting services can help you improve your business now, plus be ready for the future. With a full-time staff of in-house Pharmacy Consultant specialists, HCC can answer any questions that you may have in all pharmacy settings. Contact us online or call us today at 800-642-1652 for a free consultation.