How Pharmacists Can Influence the Future of Health Care


Health care has historically been physician-patient focused, but pharmacists and patients are changing this trend.

A session held at the ASHP 2017 Summer Meetings and Exhibition addressed pharmacists impact on the future of health care and the inclusion of pharmacists in interdisciplinary teams.

Rajiv R. Shah, MD, founder of the medication reminder service MyMeds, began the discussion by stating that, “Pharmacists have the biggest opportunity to impact health care in the next decade.” Dr. Shah emphasized that as health care evolves, so does the perception of pharmacists as part of the team. Although Dr. Shah noted that health care has historically been very physician-patient ruled, pharmacists and patients are changing this trend.

Dr. Shah said a health care “dream team" should include the pharmacist, physician, nurse, specialist, health coach, and family caregiver. He noted that health care needs to shift from a system-focused industry to being more patient centered. Pharmacists especially, according to Dr. Shah, are in a position to positively impact health care.

Dr. Shah asked the audience to identify some trends in health care. One of those trends is the prescribing capabilities of pharmacists. Giving pharmacists the ability to prescribe the appropriate medications for the diagnosis a physician provides can free up physicians’ time to go more in depth with their patients on other issues. Similar to this trend, emerging technological advances also call for team-based approaches to managing patient care. Dr. Shah emphasized that a team-based approach is important as the patient experience changes.

Pharmacists can take advantage of better opportunities to enhance patient safety experiences with innovative digital tools. The emergence of technology, for instance, has allowed patients to become more involved in their own care, by providing them access digitally to their reports, labs, and other sources of data. Pharmacists can integrate these approaches into their practice by using digital health care apps and other sources to help improve medication adherence and management in their patients.

To change the future of health care, Dr. Shah urged pharmacists to “embrace innovation.”


  • Shah R. Pharmacists are the key: Improving Patient Safety Behaviors. Presented at: ASHP Summer Meetings and Exhibition. June 4-6, 2017. Minneapolis.

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