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    Expanding the role of pharmacists on the healthcare team

    Ned MilenkovichNed MilenkovichIn January 2015, the National Governors Association (NGA) released a white paper titled “The Expanding Role of Pharmacists in a Transformed Health Care System.” The paper challenges states to change their laws to allow pharmacists, who represent the third-largest healthcare profession, to become more integrated into the healthcare delivery system. The NGA, along with healthcare experts, acknowledges the essential role that medication management plays in treating chronic diseases, and it stresses that including pharmacists in chronic-care delivery teams will both improve health outcomes and reduce costs.  

    See also: Governors support provider status for pharmacists

    The pharmacist’s role

    The healthcare system is experiencing a fundamental shift in the areas of finance and delivery of healthcare services. States are formulating laws, regulations, and best practices to improve outcomes while reducing costs.

    See also: California pharmacists win provider status

    Factors underlying this trend include a growing number of adults who have chronic diseases, such as heart disease, stroke, cancer, arthritis, hepatitis, and asthma. With over 117 million U.S. adults suffering from at least one chronic disease, the number of people taking multiple medications is also very high. And as the number of medications increases, so does the rate of nonadherence to the proper medication regimen, the consequences of which are both physical and monetary in nature.  

    Pharmacists have the capabilities to play a large role in shaping healthcare delivery to individuals, especially to those with chronic diseases. Pharmacists’ expertise includes medication therapy management, wellness counseling, disease-prevention services, and primary care. These services are most effective when the pharmacist is included in the larger interdisciplinary team, which can be documented through collaborative practice agreements (CPAs).

    CPA agreements streamline patient care and allow licensed providers to refer patients to a pharmacist for corresponding healthcare services. This integration also allows for a patient’s entire healthcare team to collaborate and maintain transparency, increasing the quality of both individual healthcare services and the entire patient healthcare plan.

    Ned Milenkovich, PharmD, JD
    This article is not intended as legal advice and should not be used as such. When legal questions arise, pharmacists should consult with ...


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