Pharmacy Focus, Challenges and Opportunities in 2017:
A new year is here and Pharmacy issues, challenges and opportunities are more abundant and complex than ever before. New Pharmacy advancements and rapid changes in disease treatments, legislation, insurance issues, media attention and a more informed patient have certainly resulted in one significant fact: 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. A Pharmacist’s role is no longer focused only on their expertise regarding a patient’s medications, but as perhaps 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 patient and the patient’s families.
The vitally important role that we at HCC see the Pharmacist playing now (and ever 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 great patient care, the Pharmacist is in many cases at the center. It is the Pharmacist who must ensure that there is always an accurate flow of information taking place between many of the healthcare team members, and then again it is the Pharmacist 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 Pharmacist much more often than with their physicians or 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.
The point is that a Pharmacist’s role is no longer viewed as simply as being a “pill counter, placing a label on the bottle and then being a cashier”. As a profession we are now responsible for counseling patients and increased communication with an expanding number of other healthcare team members. This direction is a “must’ for each of us to undertake in order to ensure increased patient medication compliance and build the best healthcare aviabale. 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 recent posts – Pharmacogenetic Testing in Community Pharmacies. Physicians, related healthcare practitioners, insurance providers and especially patients are demanding this of us. It is interesting to note that of the 10 “Top-Read Health-System Articles in 2016” 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”.
2017 is an exciting time to be practicing Pharmacy! The opportunities for us as both individuals and as a profession 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.
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 27 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.