How Physicians Can Incorporate Pharmacy Services Into Their Clinical Practice
Editor’s note: I want to extend my thanks to Ronak Desai for contributing this guest post on incorporating pharmacy services into clinical practices. As you’re thinking about how to grow your business and increase your revenue, bringing pharmacy services to the practice can be both beneficial to your patients and highly lucrative to you. It’s definitely worthy of consideration.
The Practice Advancement Initiative (PAI) from the American Society of Health System Pharmacists set forth goals to reach by 2030. The aims of these goals is to leverage the profession’s strengths and to optimize the role of pharmacists and pharmacy technicians.
These goals are already being reached to some degree as hospitals and clinics are incorporating pharmacy services. This has led to several recognized improvements to both clinics and pharmacies including reduction of adverse medication-related events and strengthening the importance of in-house pharmacists.
Why You Should Be Incorporating Pharmacy Services Into Your Practice:
There are many different benefits to incorporating point-of-care pharmacies in your clinical practice. The most important reason to do so is increased adherence to medications. When pharmacists are placed directly at the point of care, they are able to engage and create a better relationship with the patient.
When pharmacists are able to create these relationships, they are better able to monitor a patient’s adherence to their medications. Currently, 75% of adult patients are non-adherent to their medications in one of the following ways:
- Stop taking medications earlier than instructed
- Forget to take the medication
- Do not refill their prescriptions
- Take less than the recommended dosage
Non-adherence is costly to a patient’s health and to your practice as statistics show that when patients do not take their prescriptions:
- The likelihood of hospitalizations increase significantly.
- Around 125,000 deaths occur in the US per year due to non-adherence.
- 10% of hospital admissions are from non-adherence.
- Non-adherence costs the US healthcare system between $100-289 billion annually in direct costs.
Tips to Incorporate Pharmacy Services Into Your Practice:
The American Medical Association has provided some helpful steps for physicians on how to incorporate pharmacy into their practices.
1. Identify the Roles Pharmacists or Pharmacy Technicians Can Play
Depending on the practice, a pharmacist can play a few different roles:
- Some will perform phone consultations before the clinic visit for medication reconciliation. This will then allow them to provide medical education, answer questions, and address problems with non-adherence.
- In other practices, pharmacists can be more involved by suggesting opportunities to improve effectiveness of the regimen, provide lower cost alternatives, and increase or decrease medications.
- Some pharmacies also may have their own systems in place. For example, they may have online prescription services and pharmacy delivery services.
2. Decide How your Practice Can Benefit from Including a Pharmacy
Incorporating a pharmacy into your practice has many possible benefits including:
- Higher patient success rates
- Increased knowledge about medications
3. Find your Pharmacist or Pharmacy Technician Match
- Be sure to find a pharmacy who matches your practice’s vision.
4. Prepare and Set Expectations for Your Team and Patients
- Before bringing the pharmacy to your clinic, be sure to educate your team on how the pharmacists work with doctors and how they will enhance your practice. Clearly define the role the pharmacy will hold to avoid confusion and conflict.
5. Determine the Resources the Pharmacy Needs
- Typically, a pharmacist will only need a private exam room with a desk, phone, and computer. But, you should always be prepared for other requests from the pharmacist depending on how they prefer to work.
6. Measure Impact
There are a few ways to measure the impact that incorporating a pharmacy has had on your practice including:
- Clinical outcomes (ex: improved blood pressure level and glycemic control).
- Monitoring medication changes (adding, discontinuing, or altering doses of medications)
Putting Pharmacies in Clinics:
Physicians can collaborate with their pharmacist in their practice to review, alter, and observe the medications based on how the patient responds. Pharmacists act as an extra set of eyes and will work to prevent possible errors when it comes to prescriptions.
Because the pharmacist is in the same location, they are able to immediately consult with the physician to ask questions and correct errors before the patient leaves the office. Additionally, incorporating an in-house pharmacy provides physicians with a competitive advantage above other clinics who require patients to go to an off-site pharmacy to receive their medications.
Point-of-care pharmacies will benefit when they are incorporated into clinics as pharmacists will be able to create immediate and stronger relationships with their patients. Additionally, pharmacies in clinics will likely be more successful with compensation. The reason for this is that insurance companies are starting to integrate value-based compensation into their contracts with pharmacies. So, if pharmacists are working within the clinic to improve medication adherence, then there will be fewer hospitalizations. Eventually, this will lead to a higher success rate and increased compensation.
Patients will benefit from in-house pharmacies as it is the most convenient option for them. Typically, a patient must take two trips to receive their medical care: their doctor’s office and their pharmacy.
However, point-of-care pharmacies take away that second trip, saving the patients time and money. Additionally, a patient will have access to more information when meeting with their physician and then a personal pharmacist immediately afterwards. The pharmacist will answer questions, give a detailed explanation of the recommended regimen, and discuss potential negative effects if they do not follow the prescribed plan. This gives the patient the best chance for a successful outcome.
In conclusion, incorporating pharmacies into hospitals and clinics benefits everyone involved. It creates a seamless experience and strengthens the relationships between all three parties. Lastly, in-house pharmacies have proven to increase medication knowledge and adherence leading to better and healthier outcomes from these medication therapies.
Ronak Desai is the Co-Founder of Apotheco Pharmacy Group, a leading Dermatology Pharmacy. He oversees the development and execution of corporate strategies with a focus on Pharmacy growth and development.
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