Although a pharmacist’s primary job is to follow prescription instructions as written by a physician and dispense the type and dosage of medication indicated on the prescription, pharmacists will likely be playing a more comprehensive role in the physician-patient relationship in addition to checking for drug interactions, printing labels, and counting out pills.
According to an article in Kaiser Health News, North Carolina, New Mexico and California have emerging laws that will eventually permit pharmacists to engage in a broader set of clinical responsibilities. Although the majority of pharmacists are not interested in assuming a more comprehensive role in a patient’s overall health care, it seems that other states will probably follow the new set of rules being implemented on a state level.
What It Means for Pharmacists
In the very near future, states like North Carolina and California plan to give pharmacists the ability to immunize children, assist patients in medication management and even write actual prescriptions for patients who have received a definitive diagnosis from their doctor.
Blame it on the big pharmacies’ desire to adopt a more integral role in patient care, says Kaiser Health Network, as well as to the decision by CVS Caremark to cease selling cigarettes and other tobacco products in an effort to improve their customers’ health. However, KHN further noted that while some physicians do not support the expansion of pharmacist’s roles in managing patient medications, the American Medical Association does advocate for physician-led teams that heavily involve pharmacists. Alternately, the AMA but does not consider giving pharmacists prescription privileges the appropriate thing to do.
Problems with Medical Billing
Although research into the viability of a professionally closer, pharmacist-physician relationship comprised of overlapping roles that are meant to benefit patient care is promising, the issue of streamlining the medical billing process has yet to be investigated. The current EHR system does not offer the ability of physicians and pharmacists to consolidate stored data to facilitate the flow of information necessary to make this relationship work effectively. For physicians and pharmacists who are given the opportunity to work more closely together, retiring traditional methods of information storage for the reliability and cost-effectiveness of cloud services will be essential to eliminating errors, remaining coordinated with each other and avoiding communication delays potentially detrimental to a patient’s well-being.
Pharmacists in the pandemic
As healthcare systems continued to face more burden and pressure, other individuals in the healthcare field have been brought into the field in order to care for more coronavirus patients. Patient outcomes have been shown to been better and more improved after pharmacists’ step in as temporary healthcare providers.
In recognition of this role, pharmacists have now been given the opportunity to “order and administrate COVID-19 tests.” It is inevitable that their role will continue to increase as pharmacists were responsible for mass immunizations during H1N1. By increasing pharmacist scope of practice, states could open opportunities for pharmacists to begin distributing vaccines for coronavirus.