Prescribing Rights: Worth it?
Pharmacists are now recognized as providers nearly everywhere—here’s a look at what this could mean for you.
The state of Washington is one of the most progressive in the nation in terms of giving pharmacists prescribing authority, said MacLean. “There is an entire collection of medications used to treat minor ailments” that pharmacists may prescribe under protocol in the independent setting (Figure 2). Generally, the protocols are tailored to the demographics of a particular pharmacy. For example, a pharmacy in an area with a high population of children would include pink eye and strep throat; those disease states might not be included in an area with a large geriatric population.
“In all of my experience, my patients have appreciated the ability to receive care from the community pharmacist. Patients are willing to come see us. They can come see us after hours, receive assessments, and avoid the emergency room. And in areas where there is a physician shortage, the pharmacist can fill the void,” said MacLean. She noted that a pediatrician had brought her own two children into the pharmacy to be tested and eventually treated for strep throat.
MacLean said that pharmacy has to evolve, and cannot let workload be a challenge. That prevents the pharmacist from providing patient care, she said. “The filling of prescriptions is secondary to taking care of patients and improving outcomes. Pharmacy must move in this direction. And in order to be effective, we need to surround ourselves with the right tools: technicians, technology, and software solutions,” said MacLean.
NCPA’s Day said that the dispensing function will still be the core function of pharmacists, but the role will evolve so that pharmacists will focus not on “counting by five,” but on patient care and patient safety.” Mac Lean agreed. “Dispensing must be done and done very carefully. Pharmacy needs to assure that the right medicine is taken appropriately. The medicine works when the pharmacist does due diligence to ensure the best outcome. The future of pharmacy is about the value of the patient; keeping the patient healthy.”
CVS officials declined to comment for this story. Representatives from Walgreens and Kroger did not respond to requests from Drug Topics.