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    Why consumers trust pharmacists

    Pharmacists were rated as one of the most trusted professionals in the United States again in 2016. For the second year, pharmacists were rated second only to nurses in Gallup’s annual survey about the professions that Americans deem the most honest and that maintain the highest ethical standards.

    The rating that pharmacists earned in this annual Gallup survey is built on established pharmacist-patient relationships in neighborhoods throughout the nation,” said Steven C. Anderson, President and CEO of the National Association of Chain Drug Stores (NACDS). “The takeaway for policymakers is that the pharmacist-patient relationship has tremendous potential to do even more to improve patient health and well-being, along with the overall quality and affordability of health care, Anderson said.”

    In a November survey of likely voters who are highly aware and engaged in current events – commissioned by NACDS and conducted by Public Opinion Strategies – pharmacies also achieved a 63% favorability rating. Respondents gave their own pharmacy a 75% favorability rating and their own pharmacist a 77% favorability rating. “Those who are more frequent users of pharmacist-provided services rate pharmacies and pharmacists even more highly,” Anderson said.

    “The Gallup survey and NACDS’ own research – as well as a host of other sources – validate the NACDS members’ role as the face of neighborhood health care,” Anderson said.

    Pharmacists’ high rating is due to the fact that they are “clinically trained medication experts who can answer patients’ questions and offer advice about their medications,” said B. Douglas Hoey, RPh, CEO of the National Community Pharmacists Association (NCPA).

    Pharmacists are also known for their accessibility to patients, “who can go down to their local pharmacy to get their prescription drug services at a moment’s notice,” Hoey said. “The wait pales in comparison to the wait many patients experience in a doctor’s office after scheduling appointments.”

    The level of trust consumers have with pharmacists can only grow as pharmacists continue to adapt to the changing nature of health care delivery, according to Hoey. “That includes more coordinated care with other health care providers that drive better health outcomes and also involves offering niche health services that patients come to rely upon like immunizations, transitions to care, health screens, diabetes education classes, etc.,” Hoey said. “With the doctor shortage in America projected to grow over the next decade, it is pharmacists who can help fill the gap.”

    Plus, pharmacists are perfectly positioned to drive greater medication adherence through services such as medication synchronization programs like Simplify My Meds and medication therapy management, according to Hoey. In fact, a study conducted by Langer Associated on behalf of NCPA found that a patients’ personal connection with a pharmacist or pharmacy staff is the biggest predictor of medication adherence.

    “It is time for payers and policymakers to better utilize the accessibility, expertise and public trust in pharmacists. NCPA will carry that message into 2017 as health care reform efforts accelerate and the shift toward a value-based care system continues,” Hoey said.

    In 2017, NACDS will advocate for improving patient access to pharmacists’ services by designating pharmacists as providers in Medicare, optimizing patient care through enhanced scope of practice for pharmacists and pharmacy technicians, and working for reasonable reimbursement levels and other policies that are essential for the viability of pharmacy patient care, according to Anderson.

    Christine Blank
    Contributing Editor Christine Blank is a freelance writer based in Florida.

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