The pharmacy profession is increasingly impacting public health, from medication management to vaccine administration to counseling patients on lifestyle habits. This collection from PSNet showcases some of these efforts.
Legislators and regulatory agencies often seek testimony and data from pharmacists on pending legislation and regulation (29). This is a crucial aspect of pharmacy’s role in public health.
Patient education is a powerful tool to help patients stay informed about their healthcare and health conditions. It allows them to make better decisions about their care and can also improve adherence to medication regimens. Pharmacists can play a crucial role by providing educational materials and helping patients understand their medications.
Many hospitals and practices are looking at innovative ways to incorporate pharmacists into their patient care workflows. This may include allowing pharmacists to review prior authorization drug requests and integrating pharmacy into discharge workflows to reduce medication errors.
Other initiatives include allowing pharmacists to provide feedback on medical records, which can result in more effective communication with physicians and improved prescribing practices. Finally, many countries are including pharmacists in the medical school curriculum so they can be trained to provide patient education. This has the potential to improve clinical outcomes and patient satisfaction significantly. It can also increase medication adherence and preventative care, improving overall patient health outcomes.
Like in any Convenience Store, pharmacy can lead medication safety initiatives to reduce adverse drug events, prevent hospital readmissions, and improve patient outcomes. Several articles published on PSNet this year described how facilities are expanding pharmacists’ responsibilities to include more prevention services, such as integrating pharmacies in the hospital discharge workflow by reviewing and approving medication orders before nurses access medications. This preventative service can save money by decreasing drug costs and avoiding medical bills related to inappropriate medication combinations.
Interviewees also noted the need to consider patients’ competencies, as they may not always be able to make healthcare decisions independently. Community pharmacists may need to intervene in such cases, even if that intervention contradicts the patient’s legal right to autonomy. However, this can create ethical dilemmas that need to be carefully considered. As a result, interviews highlighted the need for further research on this topic.
With patient safety a high priority for many hospitals, pharmacists are increasingly involved in providing comprehensive medication management services. This includes ensuring patients receive the proper medications at the right time, coordinating prescriptions across providers, preventing drug-drug interactions, and reducing errors.
Pharmacist-led medicine management has improved medication adherence, quality of use, and health outcomes. It also reduces costs.
Hospitals are taking advantage of this, incorporating pharmacists into discharge workflows to review and optimize non-emergency orders, a process that can reduce medication errors. And they are expanding services to provide preventive care, such as immunizations and pharmacogenomic screenings.
Despite the challenges, such as limited scope of practice, administrative burden, and IT interoperability issues, pharmacists have a unique opportunity to impact patient outcomes in various ways. And with patient demand growing, there are many ways to do it. Just imagine pharmacists performing clinical interventions to treat patients for common ailments such as strep throat or a bad flu, with primary care practices referring those patients to them for point-of-care testing and other services.
Patient safety is a healthcare priority focused on preventing, reducing, and reporting avoidable harm to patients during care delivery. Traditionally, pharmacists are considered “behind the glass” dispensing medications to patients, but their patient safety services can extend beyond this limited view.
Several articles published this year on PSNet highlighted ways hospitals and health systems are implementing new opportunities for pharmacists to expand their roles in patient safety. These include integrating pharmacists into prior authorization drug request programs to prevent medication errors dec, reduce adverse events, and incorporate them into the hospital discharge workflow to reduce medication reconciliation errors.
Another opportunity is pharmacist-led medication stewardship initiatives, which have been shown to improve antibiotic resistance and clinical outcomes. The success of these initiatives has also led to pharmacists assuming leadership roles in pain and opioid stewardship. This expansion of pharmacists’ responsibilities will likely continue as healthcare delivery shifts from episodic to longitudinal care and the need for interprofessional collaboration increases.