Pharmacists As Answer To PCP Shortage

I think all of us are aware that there is a physician shortage.  Obviously, with several trends, this is a big issue:

  • More patients being covered
  • Increasing prevalence of chronic conditions
  • Increasing complexity of care and the healthcare system
  • Ongoing need for more cognitive care
  • Trends towards accountable care organizations

A few years ago, there was a lot of worry about a pharmacist shortage.  Everything I’ve seen recently seems to say that the pharmacist shortage has been avoided even with increased prescriptions being filled per year.  I believe some of that is associated with more schools.  Some of it is associated with technology enhancements. 

But, will the same happen with MDs…I doubt that it’s that simple. 

If we look at the most trusted professions, pharmacists are usually in the top 5-10 with nurses and physicians.  Combine that with the fact that that medications are the first line strategy for treatment about 90% of the time, and I have to ask why there isn’t more dialogue about leveraging the pharmacist to address the PCP shortage. 

Let’s look at some of the pros about the pharmacist / pharmacy as a central health management resource:

  • Easy access (60,000 pharmacies across the US and typically a pharmacy within 2.5 miles of a consumer)
  • Broad hours (some 24×7)
  • Good integrated data
  • Experience with health management thru MTM
  • Trained in motivational interviewing and other patient mgmt skills

It’s obviously not apples-to-apples, but there seems to be a way to leverage the trend for clinics with NP or PAs and pharmacists into a solution to address the PCP shortage.

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One Response to “Pharmacists As Answer To PCP Shortage”

  1. Solving the United State’s PCP Shortage
    Surely, India and other developing countries will be utilized to meet the United States demand with qualified Healthcare Practitioners.
    The US will need to look outside of its boarders for motivated, educated, compassionate and appreciative MD’s.
    It would be also be advantageous for our Healthcare system to understand and learn the protocols, beliefs and treatments used in in other countries/cultures, which could promote innovation and contain costs in our own system.
    As for using Registered Pharmacists filling the PCP shortage, additional education and training would be a must but also a change in the current healthcare delivery system.
    First, Registered Pharmacists need to reinvent themselves so they are more involved with PCP and become an integral part of a much needed Interdisciplinary team who collaborates and manages every patient like a project from start (interview/testing/diagnosis) to end ( cure, maintenance state, or death)
    Pharmacists must use their training and knowledge to be the overseers of the treatment and medication management process of a new collaborative team approach. Becoming the prescriber, medication management, therapy monitoring, disease state monitoring, compliance and outcomes documentation specialists.
    Obviously, overtime this will reduce the overall cost of healthcare by improving outcomes and reducing adverse medication events. Additionally, creating a process to identify the best course of treatment which is cost effective and prevents the use or overuse of medications that are ineffective.
    The PCP’s would focus on diagnosis and non-pharmaceutical treatments, such as, referrals to specialists, inpatient procedures and other diagnostics that would better determine current disease state. The PCP’s would focus on diagnosis and non-pharmaceutical treatments, such as, referrals to specialists, inpatient procedures and determining other diagnostics that would better determine current disease state.
    However, in today’s world, Registered Nurse (RN) might be a better option than Registered Pharmacists to meet the United States demand with qualified Healthcare Practitioners.
    Pharmacists are not given the credit deserved as you can read into this description from the District of Columbia’s report on Interdisciplinary Health Care Teams “MODELS OF TEAM PRACTICE”

    In the New Team Model Pharmacist’s role will be
    “Pharmacists dispense drugs and medications prescribed by physicians, physician assistants, nurse practitioners, and dentists. They also advise healthcare professionals and patients on the use and proper dosage of medications, as well as expected side effects and interactions with other prescription and nonprescription medicines. These professionals also order and maintain supplies of medications and various medical supplies required for use in the clinical setting.

    Pharmacists usually possess a bachelor’s degree and are required to graduate from an accredited school of pharmacy. Many continue to study to obtain advanced degrees in pharmacy or business. All states and the District of Columbia require a license to practice pharmacy, which may require an internship under the supervision of the registered pharmacist.”

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