Expanding Role of Today’s Pharmacist in the Rapidly Evolving Healthcare Continuum

by Alex Miguel | May 15, 2020 1:45:00 PM | independent pharmacy, | | COVID-19 |

Pharmacists today do much more than dispense drugs. As the pharmacist’s role expands, independent pharmacists have become a key part of a patient’s care team. Regular touchpoints and personalized service enable community pharmacists to make a considerable impact in patient outcomes as an integral part of a patient’s healthcare network. This evolution has never been clearer than it is during the COVID-19 pandemic, as community pharmacists stand on the frontlines of the healthcare continuum.


Independent Pharmacists are Active During COVID-19

Transaction Data Systems maintains an extensive network of more than 8,000 independent pharmacies and has seen a rapid increase in patient interactions in 2020. The importance of independent pharmacy solutions is evident during the coronavirus crises as community pharmacists continue to support their patients during this time. From maintaining pharmacy hours to expanding services with curbside pickup, shipping, and delivery options, pharmacists are increasing their involvement in the evolving care model to meet patient demand.

 

In April of 2020, TDS reported a 33% year-over-year increase in prescription processing. For many Americans, independent pharmacies are the only pharmacies in town, and more than 3,000 U.S. zip codes rely solely on community pharmacies. The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services recognized the importance of pharmacist-patient interactions, authorizing licensed pharmacists to administer COVID-19 tests. Community accessibility allows more patients to get the testing and treatment they need during this time.

 

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The Pharmacist’s Evolving Role

As the U.S. faces a shortage of primary care providers, pharmacists have evolved to become the most accessible health care provider. Patients see their pharmacists more times per year on average than their medical providers, and frequent touchpoints provide a unique opportunity for pharmacists to improve patient outcomes. According to the National Association of Chain Drug Stores, almost 90% of Americans live within five miles of a community pharmacy. That distance shrinks to just two miles for patients in metropolitan areas.

 

The role of the independent pharmacist is changing as millions of Americans rely on community pharmacists to provide a new level of care during this healthcare challenged time. Independent pharmacists are able to take active roles to improve outcomes for their patients and lower costs for payors and patients alike. Patient care activities, such as medication therapy management services, counseling services, and immunizations are among the clinical services that independent pharmacists now provide.

Regular interactions and personalized service make independent pharmacists a trusted healthcare resource for their communities. Through increased touchpoints with patients, pharmacists can build trusting relationships and provide one-on-one care. The wealth of knowledge pharmacists can provide patients offers incredible benefits on an individual level. Spotting potential drug interactions, conducting preventative screenings, and addressing medication adherence are just some of the increasingly common ways pharmacists are serving patients today. With patients more involved in their healthcare than in previous years, independent pharmacists are in a position to provide care that is both quality and cost-effective.

 

How Community Pharmacies Can Embrace Change

As the healthcare continuum continues to evolve, the role of pharmacists is likely to change as well. Independent pharmacists can prepare for the shift in their role by embracing change and making practical applications to their business. Patient care is quickly becoming a main focus for pharmacists and implementing patient-centric services will be crucial in the near future.

Offering clinical services is one way community pharmacists can prepare for their changing role in patient outcomes. As trusted healthcare providers, pharmacists can offer one-on-one care that is tailored to the patients in their area. Personalized clinical services can include comprehensive medication reviews and vaccine programs. Also, classes or information sessions for the community allow independent pharmacists to build relationships with the patients in their area and set themselves apart as a trusted resource.

 

Finally, making the most of patient touchpoints will enable pharmacists to stay proactive regarding patient care. Staying on top of the healthcare and treatment of patients throughout the year involves offering relative healthcare recommendations, encouraging medication adherence, and providing clinical services. For community pharmacists, the local population will likely benefit from a vaccine program, immunizations, or other clinical services they can easily access close to home.

 

Solutions Are Evolving to Meet Pharmacists Needs

With this rapidly evolving healthcare model, it is certain that the pharmacist’s role will continue to grow. In this already patient consumerism world, this pandemic has brought new avenues in patient communication and services from delivery and curbside pick-up to more clinical services. Transactions Data Systems as the largest independent pharmacy management solution provider was the first to integrate a COVID-19 assessment for pharmacists into their integrated TDS 360 platform. The TDS 360 is the central system connected to the two TDS pharmacy management solutions, Rx30 and Computer-Rx. This central system provides clinical opportunities, medication management programs, advanced reporting, and much more.   In today’s world it’s more important than ever that pharmacists are well equipped with solutions that provide clinical services, maintain efficiencies, increase revenue, and improve patient outcomes. Learn more at www.rx30.com or www.computer-rx.com.