Pharmacist-Physician Collaborations Shown to be Mutually Beneficial


At the American Pharmacy Purchasing Alliance’s PharmCon in Orlando, FL, experts with collaborative practice experience discussed why these pharmacist-physician partnerships are useful, and how they can effectively work.

Working together, pharmacists and physicians can forge a mutually beneficial collaboration that also benefits patients. At the American Pharmacy Purchasing Alliance’s PharmCon in Orlando, held late last week, experts with collaborative practice experience discussed why these partnerships are useful, and how they can effectively work.

Panelist Devin Patel, PharmD, manages a specialty compounding pharmacy. He said he helps to "bridge the gap" between physicians and pharmacists by offering informational sessions to medical practices in their offices. “A lot of physicians don’t understand different pharmacy services,” Patel said. “Physicians have such limited time in the day, and they struggle dealing with prior authorizations, and all these nuances.”

Sarah Hurty, MD, a practice transformation coach with Take Back Your Practice, said pharmacists can show physicians ways they can be of value to a practice, and how they can help lighten the work load. She encouraged pharmacists to help physicians see beyond the single act of dispensing medication. She pointed to counseling patients about prescriptions and their dosing, and educating staff on gaps in care as areas that can be filled by pharmacists. “Physicians don’t even know what the gaps are,” said Hurty.

According to panelist Kevin Olson, PharmD, MBA, working with a physician group also allows pharmacists to better see where these gaps in patient care exist. In addition, he said, both pharmacists and physicians can save time on clinical services by working together. For example, in treating an individual with diabetes, both parties would have access to follow up testing, and answers to lifestyle questions. An independent pharmacist, he said, might not have time to gather this information in a retail setting. “You are entering a whole new scale of clinical,” Olson told conference attendees.

Another way pharmacists can assist physicians, panelists explained, is by providing lists of generic drugs or alternative medicines that offer comparative benefits to preferred brands. Oftentimes, physicians simply do not have the time to look up this information or they are more inclinced to prescribe a more costly brand, often due to personal office visits by sales representatives for the drug companies.

In addition to value of services for both pharmacists and physicians, Olson said pharmacists and physicians can share expenses through a collaboration. Hurty agreed, and added that health care providers have the potential to each increase income by more than $200,000 a year with a collaborative model.

Hurty recommended that pharmacists approach a potential physician partner speaking in terms of cost, and to show how a collaboration can save a practice money. “Try to find something where it doesn’t cost them, and it doesn’t cost you,” Hurty said. “Look for a physician that is open to wellness medicine that insurances will pay for.”

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