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The Role of Pharmacists as Health Providers

Based on your experience, what role do you think pharmacists can and should play in a team-based approach to medical care, beyond filling prescriptions?
Many roles come to mind. Pharmacists are highly trained health professionals who provide a broad spectrum of services, including conducting health and wellness testing, managing chronic diseases, performing medication management, and administering immunizations.

More specifically, medication is an integral part of the treatment of patients, and pharmacists play an important part in medication management and adherence. As medication experts within the broader health care team, they have the ability to identify potential barriers to medication adherence and can offer solutions to help encourage patients to stay adherent, which saves lives and significant costs to the health care system.1 Pharmacists also educate about potential side effects and drug interactions and help identify potential gaps in care for those with complex medical conditions.

What else makes pharmacists unique within the health care team?
Because patients are already visiting retail pharmacies for everyday items, they are more likely to have regular interactions and a relationship with the pharmacist. This builds trust. In my experience, patients are more inclined to pick up the phone and call their pharmacist with questions.

In addition, they are likely to receive more counseling time from pharmacists compared with other health care professionals due to pharmacies’ relatively flexible hours. This combination of trust and accessibility makes pharmacists valuable public health resources uniquely positioned to drive positive behavioral changes and favorable patient outcomes – providers’ ultimate goal.

What more can be done to maximize pharmacists’ role within the health care team?
Pharmacists are an integral contributor to the overall health care of patients, and recognizing and reimbursing pharmacists as providers will further advance the care they are able to provide.


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