Asked to define a patient’s care team, physicians will likely name everyone from their in-practice staff to caregivers and family members.
But for many of the reasons outlined in this issue’s cover story, pharmacists should be added to that circle of those working to improve the patient’s well-being. From identifying alternative prescriptions covered at a lower cost by a patient’s plan to serving as an educator on disease management, pharmacists can play a huge role in aiding patient care. They can also fill significant gaps in small practices who lack staff to address these concerns and others.
Perhaps Amina Abubakar, PharmD, owner of a community pharmacy in Charlotte, North Carolina, puts it best: “It’s about total care now – doing everything in our power to get the patients well.”
Now, I realize this may be hard to do at big-box store pharmacies, where it can be difficult to find a consistent point of contact. And I realize some physicians question the education level / years of experience and knowledge base of pharmacists, but hear me out.
Independent pharmacies are generally willing and able to assist physician practices on many levels. And they face many of the same business struggles as independent medical practices. From a lack of interoperability in computer systems to spending numerous hours on the phone arguing with payers about what’s covered and for how much, private physicians and independent pharmacists have a lot in common.