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Pharmacists’ Role to Expand Over the Next Decade

According to recent research from the Columbia University Mailman School of Public Health and Express Scripts Pharmacy, pharmacists are well-trusted by patients and are expected to play an “increasingly integral role in care management.” The research surveyed more than 3,000 patients, 1,000 pharmacists, and 500 medical providers, and was designed to get a better understanding of the expanding role of pharmacists in patient care.

Six Driving Themes

The report found six driving themes in the future role of pharmacists:

•Value-based models: pharmacists can help achieve cost and quality goals in value-based payment models
•Primary care gaps: pharmacists can help fill the primary care supply shortages and gaps
•Patient care activities: pharmacist’s expanded role will include more patient care activities
•Training and education: pharmacist training will be a key focus to allow for growing demand and gaps in care
•Trust: there is a high level of trust in pharmacists, allowing them to expand their role in patient care
Supportive technology: the growth of technology will help to free up pharmacist time, which will allow them to focus on patient care.

Expansion of Responsibilities

The research found that looking toward the year 2030, a majority of pharmacists will likely transition from transactional care to more direct patient care responsibilities. This trend is driven by pharmacists in ambulatory clinics, health systems/hospitals, and home delivery pharmacies. Pharmacists in those roles already tend to serve as advisors to patients with specific diseases, or work with a larger care team to help manage complex patient care.


Helping that expansion is the trust many patients feel toward pharmacists: with almost 80% of patients surveyed reporting that they consider pharmacists to be an integral part of their health care team. Providers also reported a high level of trust (often above 90%) in pharmacists’ professional activities, including dispensing medications, speaking with health professionals and patients about potential adverse drug reactions, counseling patients on their prescriptions, and administering vaccines.


Surveyed pharmacists recognized that patients need more consistent clinical counseling and disease education, indicating that training will be a focus in key areas to fill gaps in patient care, including opportunities for training in chronic disease education, diagnosing, and prescribing. However, 53.5% of pharmacists believed their current training and education is sufficient to manage patients.

•Other Future Changes

As we have seen from the COVID-19 pandemic, people are now working from home, attending school from home, and holding telemedicine doctor visits from home. Nearly half of the patients surveyed indicated that they would find it helpful to have routine testing and medical visits done from home.

In that vein, more than half of home delivery pharmacists report engaging in more telepharmacy, while only 15% of retail pharmacists use telepharmacy. The pharmacists that utilize the technology often say it gives them more time to interact with patients.

Benefits of Telemedicine‼️

telemedicine, which enables video or phone appointments between a patient and their health care practitioner, benefits both health and convenience.
More health care providers are offering to “see” patients by computer and smartphone.
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