October is American Pharmacists Month, so I’ll take this opportunity to stand on the soapbox for a few paragraphs. If you’re not utilizing your pharmacist beyond the filling of your prescriptions, you’ll want to read on to expand your understanding of how pharmacists, as members of the healthcare team, can help you.
It may surprise you to know that pharmacists are not currently considered healthcare providers, according to typical definitions recognized by governing bodies. There are many services that we provide outside of the traditional medication dispensing process. With healthcare moving towards value and quality based models in place of the traditional fee-for-service models, pharmacists are ideal partners to be added to the healthcare team to help these models succeed. Many studies demonstrate the benefits that pharmacists add to healthcare teams in the way they help care for patients, with their unique medication expertise.
As the medication experts, we encourage you to “Know Your Pharmacist, Know Your Medicine”, as spearheaded by the American Pharmacists Association. It’s always a good time to review your medications in detail with your pharmacist, so if you never have or it’s been awhile, consider doing it now. In conversations with my patients, it’s always surprising to me that they have no idea what to expect from an in-depth meeting with the pharmacist. Too often, it’s easy to assume a pharmacist just safely puts the right medication in the right bottle. But, each year, improper use of prescribed medications leads to more than 1.5 million preventable medication-related adverse events and results in a $290 BILLION cost to the healthcare system.
Pharmacists are the Medication Therapy Management (MTM) experts, providing services that help to protect the public from medication errors and at the same time educate them about their prescriptions, over-the-counter drugs, and herbal supplements. Other important services that pharmacists perform during MTM sessions include:
-Yearly review of medicines, including an action plan, documentation, and followup visits as necessary
-Medicine education for the public to help emphasize purpose, drug interactions, side effects, and correct dosing
-Counseling on medication adherence to identify ways to make it easier to take mediations and keep prescription costs within reach
-Providing immunizations for the public, and helping patients know what immunizations they need
-Diabetes care training, for example, blood glucose monitoring, proper insulin injection methods, foot care, and eye care
-Health maintenance counseling and guidance, which might include smoking cessation, asthma treatment, and nutrition management
-Blood pressure screenings, cholesterol screenings, and anticoagulant management
Pharmacists play a key role in preventing and identifying medication dosing errors, serious drug interactions, and life-threatening drug allergies.
Make it a priority to get to know your pharmacist-always your partner in good health.