[VIDEO] US Pharmacists Lead the Way in Health Care

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Historically, pharmacists roles in the health care industry centered around dispensing medications in accordance with a prescription and providing a fin...

Historically, pharmacists’ roles in the health care industry centered around dispensing medications in accordance with a prescription and providing a final check to ensure accurate delivery of medications to patients.

In today’s industry, that role has developed significantly, with pharmacists now providing more direct patient care, such as primary care and disease management services.

Dr. Lori Hall, Program Consultant with the Division of Diabetes Translation at the Centers for Disease Control spent some time with Dr. John Iskander on Beyond the Data to discuss this evolving role and how pharmacists are shaping the health care industry.

“There are approximately 67,000 pharmacists working in the U.S.,” said Hall. “Pharmacists are among some of the most trusted professionals. Yet, they seem to be underutilized when you look at how they are trained and the experience that they bring to health care.”

A Change in Roles

According to Hall, pharmacists are working to prevent and control various chronic diseases such as diabetes, heart disease, and asthma, among others. Additionally, they are also helping manage patients diagnosed with HIV and are giving immunizations to help curb the spread of such diseases.

“All of these diseases are very complex and many are hinged on taking medications as the cornerstone of treatment,” said Hall. “So it makes sense that a medication expert such as a pharmacist is involved in the process of treating these patients.”

 Benefits of More Interactive Pharmacists

Thanks to more and more pharmacists being directly involved in the health care of patients, the quality of said care has vastly improved.

One example that Hall mentioned was when patients are hospitalized, upon discharge their medication regimen could be entirely different. By having a pharmacist assigned to reconcile the medication, the patient is ensured that they are aware of medications they are taking – increasing the quality of care and also preventing the chances that an adverse event could occur that would lead to re-hospitalization.

There are also cost benefits that come associated with involving pharmacists in the care process.

“The return on investment on average is four to one,” said Hall. “In other words, for every dollar invested, you save four dollars whenever a pharmacist is involved. And some evidence even shows this can be as high as 12 to one.”  

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