The Role of Pharmacists in the Health Care Ecosystem


The future for pharmacy is very lucrative as they press on for provider status.

The high demand of primary care physicians and the surplus of pharmacists in today’s market is a clear sign that pharmacists are already in the race for provider status.

Not to mention, pharmacists are currently doing point-of-care testing, vaccination shots, and collaborative practice agreements with physicians. If we pay close attention, the shifting role of the pharmacist slowly chipping away at the tasks physicians are already doing, could be a sign of some sort.

Primary care services will start to migrate more towards the retail arena, which is important for independent retail pharmacies to have a pharmacist collaborative practice agreement in place. The large chains are starting to focus their business models around health and wellness by building out their storefront and adding more clinics, organic food options, and even a more elegant look to their cosmetic and beauty department.

It’s expected that within the next 5 to 10 years, the retail landscape will look and feel significantly different than it does today as we transition to a method of fulfillment and precision medicine.

It’s predicted that primary care physicians may start to slowly fade out. Pharmacists who have a collaborative practice agreement will be able to play a larger role in the patient’s overall healthcare delivery team. It makes sense to have pharmacists start to manage patients as a whole. After all, pharmacists are doctors (of pharmacy) and are already the last person a patient has to see anyway.

Why not just eliminate some of the extra layers a patient has to go through by establishing a collaborative practice agreement?

Why a Pharmacist Appointment-Based Mode Works

We schedule an appointment to get a haircut, we schedule an appointment to meet with an advisor, we schedule an appointment to see the doctor, so why do we not set up an appointment to visit with the pharmacist? It appears there may be a glitch in the system for several reasons:

● Pharmacists need an allotted time to go over a patient’s medication

● Pharmacists counsel on any possible drug interactions

● Pharmacists can provide immunizations, wellness checks, and healthcare advice.

Data & Technology

Real-time data to drive patient-centered care is coming our way. IBM Watson is currently working on a platform for innovation that encompasses managing health at a scale. This will all be predicated by efficient population health algorithms that help engage caregivers to successfully intercept patients before a health event occurs. The goal is to generate an ecosystem of healthcare solutions using real-time data.

Watson Technology for cognitive coaching personalizes training recommendations based on dynamic athlete data and external sources delivered in an interactive and engaging format. This same technology can be utilized for patients by collecting healthcare data-points. The future for pharmacy is very lucrative as they move into the healthcare ecosystem and press on for provider status.

Brandon Welch is the executive vice president of the American Pharmacy Purchasing Alliance and sits on the Advisory Board of Digital Marketing for the University of South Florida​, where he is a PharmD candidate.

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