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The Emerging Role of the Pharmacist

Part 5 of our Emerging Rx Series

This eLearning series addresses the changing health care environment, the importance of technology as a tool to achieve improved care and efficiency, and the opportunities for pharmacists to play new strategic roles.

So, we’ve covered the challenges, gaps and missing factors in our traditional health care model. Last week, we looked at new care models that aim to address those issues.

Today, we’ll discuss how pharmacists’ roles are changing.

Part 5: The Emerging Role of the Pharmacist

Pharmacists are starting to get the attention they deserve, from players who matter. Legislators, industry leaders, insurers, providers and patients are recognizing that pharmacists have a critical role to play on an integrated health care team.

With their qualifications and experience, pharmacists can play a great role in patient care and help bridge gaps in our health care system.

In 2005, 133 million Americans — almost half the adult population — suffered from at least one chronic disease. By 2025, this number is expected to reach 164 million.

As chronic diseases continue to increase in prevalence, they will put more demand on the nation’s health care system. And primary care physicians’ availability to provide effective preventative care is already shrinking.

Pharmacists are positioned to help.

One of our system’s biggest challenges is gaps in care. Many patients have no contact from a health care provider after a visit to the hospital or between doctors’ visits. Often, these times are critical to keeping patients healthy.

Pharmacists are equipped to provide this follow-up care. Their expertise in medication management is especially helpful to the growing population of patients managing chronic diseases.

Pharmacists already partner with patients and other clinicians to improve care in these areas:

  • Medication therapy management
  • Medication reconciliation
  • Disease management
  • Patient education

In our rapidly changing health care environment, pharmacists can become much more than medication processers. Now is the time for pharmacists to define their roles, expand their businesses and increase their revenue streams.

Next, we’ll look at how pharmacists can incorporate technology to elevate their role. Check back next week for Part 6: The Missing Link.

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