Pharmacists Valuable Players on Health Care Teams

Pharmacists in direct patient care roles significantly improve clinical outcomes, according to a comprehensive research review.

In an analysis of nearly 300 studies, pharmacist intervention was associated with improved medication adherence, fewer adverse drug events, and better management of chronic diseases, according to a study published online August 13, 2010, in the journal Medical Care.

“Incorporating pharmacists as health care team members in direct patient care is a viable solution to help improve US health care,” wrote lead author Marie A. Chisholm-Burns, PharmD, MPH, FASHP, of the University of Arizona College of Pharmacy in Tucson, Arizona.

Dr. Chisholm-Burns and colleagues performed a systematic review and meta-analysis of 298 studies that examined the impact of pharmacists’ services on therapeutic, safety, and humanistic outcomes. In all 3 categories, the findings revealed benefits unique to patients who received direct care from pharmacists.

Patients were 47% less likely to experience an adverse drug event. Those with chronic diseases—such as diabetes, hypertension, and high cholesterol—showed marked improvements in hemoglobin A1c, cholesterol, and blood pressure measurements. Favorable results were also observed for medication adherence, patient knowledge, general quality of life.

The findings may fuel discussion of alternative approaches to medical care that optimize pharmacists’ medication expertise, according to Henri R. Manasse, Jr., PhD, ScD, chief executive officer of the American Society of Health-System Pharmacists, which funded the study.

“The findings are particularly relevant as policymakers begin to implement innovative care models included in the new health care reform law,” Manasse said in an ASHP press release.

He cited the study’s implications for the medical home—a model in which physicians, nurses, pharmacists, and other specialists collaborate in interdisciplinary teams to deliver patient-centered health care.

Before such models can be implemented, however, patients must be made aware of their benefits. “We have to get this message out to the public,” said Dr. Chisholm-Burns. “It’s so important for patients to understand how pharmacists can help them manage their chronic diseases and be as healthy as possible.”

For other articles in this issue, see:

  • Pharmacy Times iPad App Unveiled
  • Pharmacists Invited to Share Their Stories
  • Prescription Drug Use on the Rise, CDC Reports