ASHP Foundation Releases 2023 Issue of Pharmacy Forecast Report

In addition to ongoing staffing patterns and new technology, an expert said pharmacies will have to adapt to new ways of educating students and staff.

In an interview with Pharmacy Times, Marie Chisholm-Burns, PharmD, PhD, MPH, MBA, discussed pharmacy trends in 2023 and beyond. In addition to ongoing staffing patterns and new technology, Chisholm-Burns said pharmacies will have to adapt to new ways of educating students and staff.

Q: What are the key trends for 2023 that could have a major impact on health-system pharmacies within the next 5 years? What will these impacts be?

Marie Chisholm-Burns, PharmD, PhD, MPH, MBA: Well, I'll just mention a few of them. One is workforce, and the different workforce dynamics that we have going on that sort of came out of COVID-19. The other is the way we learn. Going online is certainly going to be a trend and something that we probably will see more of, and it will be more in the permanent sector. Telehealth, telecommunications, tele-pharmacy—I think these are going to be big things. I also think emergency preparedness is going to be a big area that we want to be prepared for whatever is next. Certainly dealing with drug shortages, social determinants of health, mental health and mental illness, and access to care.

Q: How has the pandemic helped to shape the trends into the immediate future?

Marie Chisholm-Burns, PharmD, PhD, MPH, MBA: That's an interesting question and we probably could talk for hours upon that. But, you know, I mentioned some of this in the last question. I think that there's no going back, there's going forward. I think that if we look at education, we could see different modalities of how to take courses, how to get college credit for different things, how to even get high school credit for different things, even in our early elementary schools, they're doing things differently. I think telehealth is a big one. It was very efficient. We got to do things very quickly, because we had to, we were forced to do that. I think people working in hybrid settings is something we're going to see a lot more of, and that flexibility that comes with that. But also, what comes with that is sort of erasing borders, where we could look for talent outside of the immediate area, within the city or within a state because we're crossing borders now. We're using our workforce. And I think that it's needed. I think things that we're going to subsequently see out of this is health systems are going to look at better ways to make their employees want to remain in their systems. So, I think workforce is going to be a big area of change and evolution. I think education is going to be a big area of evolution, as well.

Q: How do you see the current staffing challenges affecting the next year? Do you see this issue improving?

Marie Chisholm-Burns, PharmD, PhD, MPH, MBA: I think we're going to have more of it. I think COVID-19 has allowed people to reflect on what their priorities are, and I think that in the short run, we're going to be using contract individuals and professions. I think in the long run, we're going to start offering more incentives and better working conditions. And I think, you know, I'm optimistic about it. But we certainly have to get over this, these challenges that we're seeing, because it's impeding on our access to care.

Q: What are some strategic recommendations that pharmacists should be aware of for the future?

Marie Chisholm-Burns, PharmD, PhD, MPH, MBA: I think that we have to use the social determinants of health more in designing and developing patient care plans and the patient care process. I think that we are having 2 mental health challenges. I think that we're going to have to incentivize people to go to certain geographic locations, incentivize people to be in mental health altogether. And I think that we're going to have to, as we think about the workforce, we're going to have to deal with the burnout that so many health care professionals have.

Q: How should pharmacies be prepared to adapt to the trends in the coming 5 years?

Marie Chisholm-Burns, PharmD, PhD, MPH, MBA: More infrastructure, more electronic health records, interfacing electronic health records with maybe social determinants of health, using that in care plans, that we're going to see a lot more reimbursements based on performance and outcomes. So, we have to be prepared for that. I think we're going to have to help with access issues and making sure our patients and our communities are served. And we're going to have to be innovative to do those things.

Q: Do you have any closing thoughts?

Marie Chisholm-Burns, PharmD, PhD, MPH, MBA: I think that we've learned a lot from COVID-19 and that's what happens in crises. COVID-19 has allowed us to uncover and make us aware of that things that have probably always been there. But now, we should address it. It's been uncovered—like social justice issues, we have to address it. Access to education, access to care. I think that we're going to have to deal with the workforce shortage, not only in health care [but] across all segments of the workforce, and I think that we're going to really have to sit down and think of strategic ways that we could address mental illness and burnout. I think that it's staring us right in the face and we're going to have to do something about it.

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