Pharmacy Forecast Report Predicts Ongoing COVID-19 Impact in 2022

Pharmacy leaders and organizations should continue to advocate for the expansion of responsibilities granted by the 2020 PREP Act, according to the report.

Pharmacists will continue to become more involved in patient care, technology, and emergency preparedness next year, according to the 2022 American Society of Health-System Pharmacists (ASHP) and ASHP Foundation Pharmacy Forecast Report, which was released in advance of the ASHP Midyear Clinical Meeting and Exhibition.

The report is intended as a strategic planning tool to help pharmacists and practitioners prepare for the upcoming year and how they can best position themselves for success, according to a press release. The new report notes that the experiences of the COVID-19 pandemic may still impact the health care landscape, medication use, and the pharmacy profession over the next 5 years.

“This year’s Forecast report reflects the ongoing challenges associated with COVID-19, and the related opportunities for pharmacy professionals to continue to enhance their leadership and advance their practices in service to their patients and communities from the bedside to the home and all points throughout the continuum of care,” the report authors wrote.

Pharmacists’ roles in emergency preparedness will continue to grow, including in the development of plans for future disasters or emergencies such as pandemic outbreaks. Pharmacy leaders must operate as a go-between for both health systems’ emergency-preparedness planning and community public health teams, according to the report. Within health systems, pharmacists will also need to create contingency staffing plans in response to significant health-system patient volume shifts.

The report noted that the 2020 Public Readiness and Emergency Preparedness (PREP) Act allowed pharmacists to take on greater roles in providing vaccinations, administering COVID-19 tests, and organizing and overseeing mass vaccination programs. Pharmacy leaders and organizations should continue to advocate for the expansion of these responsibilities, according to the report.

“One of the most salient lessons of the COVID-19 pandemic is the need for pharmacy leaders to make investments in areas that will allow their organization to effectively respond to disruptions caused by unforeseen events like a global pandemic while also supporting the health system’s overall preparedness efforts,” said the report’s editor, Joseph T. DiPiro, PharmD, in the press release.

The COVID-19 pandemic had massive impacts on the supply chain, and pharmacists can also play a role in planning for and mitigating any future supply chain issues. Further analysis of the shortages early in the pandemic is needed to improve production forecasting and create flexible allocation strategies for both individual hospitals and regions, according to the report. In-house or regional continuous manufacturing processes could also help mitigate future shortages, or health systems can collaborate with manufacturers to develop demand surge strategies such as demand contracting and regional warehousing.

The expansion and development of technology were accelerated by the pandemic, increasing the ability of health systems to use digital health solutions and artificial intelligence to optimize medication management. Pharmacists will likely be key leaders in the effort to streamline digital health solutions and integrate them with current workflows. Pharmacists will also manage chronic conditions from remotely generated health data, according to the report.

Despite this accelerated technological development, a lack of technological access and literacy also negatively impacted underserved populations during the pandemic. Some technologies, such as voice-assisted technology, are being used in health care to improve information accessibility, and pharmacy leaders can advocate for equitable access to digital tools to ensure that underserved populations benefit from technological advances, according to the report.

Finally, the report predicts that new care models, including hospital at home, will continue to develop and evolve in the coming years. The pandemic necessitated quick and drastic changes in care delivery, such as delivering vaccinations to patients’ homes, at drive-through locations, and to schools. Pharmacists and health systems also pivoted to help manage patients with chronic conditions remotely when in-person appointments were too risky.

Health systems will increasingly be required to offer advanced care at home, the report predicts. Additionally, pharmacy leaders will be expected to participate in the design and implementation of remote patient care.

The report was developed using a survey of 387 pharmacy leaders from around the country. Responses were submitted by 311 survey recipients who represented a variety of leadership roles, hospital sizes, and geographic regions, according to the press release.

REFERENCE

Pharmacy Forecast 2022 Anticipates Lasting Impact from Pandemic-Related Changes to Health-System Pharmacy. News release. Email; December 3, 2021. Accessed December 3, 2021.