Celebrating Pharmacists This October

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Craig Dolan, PharmD, MBA, BSPharm discusses the role of the pharmacist, how the pharmacy profession has changed, and what is to come in the field.

Craig Dolan, PharmD, MBA, BSPharm discusses the role of the pharmacist, how the pharmacy profession has changed, and what is to come in the field.

Q: How have you seen the role of the pharmacist change and evolve throughout your career?

About the Expert

Craig Dolan, PharmD, MBA, BSPharm has more than 20 years of clinical and hospital leadership expertise in multiple hospital and health-system settings. As vice president of Business Development and Innovation at McKesson, Dolan oversees analytics tools and technology that helps health-systems track, manage, and optimize their pharmacy business.

Craig Dolan: That's a great question, I think, particularly in health-systems pharmacist, as that's really my background and where I've spent most of my career, health-systems pharmacists are still very focused on the clinical aspect of taking care of patients. It has always been the most important part of our job: to make sure the patient outcomes are obviously optimized and are the best. Honestly, the roles involved into a business type of person as well, but really, the role of pharmacists is managing costs, managing the patient's cost, managing the health-systems cost, and then optimizing revenue where it is a business. I think in the health systems world, the position is really evolved to a business clinician. Also, obviously, you throw in a pandemic, the role of the pharmacist has become frontline as well, I mean, really being recognized as a key frontline health care provider, through the vaccinations and through the medications and managing that whole pandemic. It really brought us to the front of the care continuum, which has been great. I think it's really evolved from clinician business and now frontline leader. Those are really the key evolutions of the profession over the last 15 or so years.

Q: How are you celebrating this American Pharmacist Month?

Male pharmacist in white coat with stethoscope and clipboard over drugstore background | Image Credit: Syda Productions - stock.adobe.com

Syda Productions - stock.adobe.com

Craig Dolan: That's a good question. Hopefully, my family posts my picture like they do the dogs for all of those holidays that make it on social media, but me personally, with McKesson, we're proud to be really highlighting the health-systems pharmacists that would have on our team. We have a great team at McKesson. I'm very proud of the people we work with, from the frontline staff, all the way through our leadership. But for the month, we're going to do a little bit of profiling of our own pharmacist team, which I think our roles have evolved as well through the last few years.

Q: What does the value of the pharmacist mean to you?

Craig Dolan: The value of the pharmacist really is in their unique expertise. I think our abilities as pharmacists to play in the middle of a prescriber and a patient is really important. I think the ability for us to diagnose and work with the diagnosis of the physician, and then bridge that treatment: What is the right medication? What is the most cost-effective medication? What is going to lead towards the best outcome and the best adherence for our patients? I think that really is the most value that we can bring to the table is being out in front of the counter and really interacting with our patients. Whether it's in an ambulatory-type setting and health systems or at the bedside, being able to really bridge that diagnosis to best outcome, I think is the strongest value that we bring. Then obviously knowing the business, knowing the business of pharmacy is important because it is important for us to make sure that patients can get the treatments that they need, and it's the right treatment and manage that aspect of it. I think that really the value we bring is that unique expertise to bridge those outcomes.

Q: How do you see the future of pharmacy evolving?

Craig Dolan: Pharmacy is going to continue to evolve. We do need to work with our data and analytics to look at ways to do our business better and more efficiently. We need to leverage our partnerships, to manage what we're seeing in the marketplace, different shifts of care, different settings of care, and we really need to evolve to continue to get out in front of the patient. I constantly talk about trying to help our customers and our partners get their pharmacists to function at the top of their license, really being the patient advocate, being in front of the patient, so evolving and leveraging technology and automation, leveraging the data and insights, to really help pharmacists to get in front of the patient more. I graduated many, many years ago from college and one of the things we always talked about was trying to make sure that we were educated to always be patient first and patient front. To this day, we're still not fully there. I think we've come a very long way, and there are a lot of aspects of pharmacy that have us functioning at the top of our licenses. I still think we need to evolve and use that data and insights and automation in our partnerships to really advance getting the pharmacists out in front and really working closely with our patients.

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