When talking about the impactful members of a patient’s healthcare team, most of us would automatically think about the primary physicians, specialists, and nurses. The role that pharmacies and pharmacists play in the health care of a patient is often overlooked. However, they are actually highly significant in achieving a successful recovery or maintaining well-being.
The primary reason why pharmacies exist is to support and sustain the healthcare system through clinical services, medication reviews, and drug information, among many others.
Moreover, nearly nine out of ten Americans live within five miles of a retail pharmacy. Hence, people from all walks of life are most likely to have regular interactions with a pharmacist. Patients are also more likely to receive medication counseling from pharmacists than from other medical professionals. This is mainly because pharmacies have more flexible hours of availability and are conveniently and strategically scattered across communities.
The accessibility of pharmacies makes them a valuable public health resource. Pharmacists also serve on the front lines of a patient’s healthcare team when it comes to driving positive and favorable health outcomes.
Below, Cavalier Pharmacare will discuss and elaborate more on the important roles that pharmacies play in the healthcare system. We will highlight the unsung role of pharmacies as integral members of the healthcare team and the healthcare system as a whole.
- Prescription processing
It is a pharmacist’s duty to verify the legality, safety, and appropriateness of the prescription order. They are tasked to check the patient’s medication record before dispensing any prescription medication.
- Patient care
The role of a pharmacy is not limited to dispensing medications. They also collect and integrate information on drug history, provide medication education (dosage regimen and administration method), and provide advice on medication-related precautions.
- Domiciliary services
Some pharmacies provide pharmaceutical services to residential homes or long-term care facilities, making it easier for residents to access pharmaceutical supplies, services, and advisories.
- Medicine information and health promotion
Pharmacists maintain and compile medication information, particularly on new medicines, to inform medical professionals and the public. Moreover, they also take part in health promotion campaigns for tobacco use, poison prevention, alcohol abuse, and other drug or health-related topics.
- Responding to minor ailments or symptoms
The public often asks advice from pharmacists for a variety of symptoms and minor ailments. Pharmacists can respond to these inquiries and refer the individual to a medical practitioner.
- Small-scale manufacturing of medicines
Pharmacies everywhere are able to adapt the formulation of a medicine to the specific medication needs of a patient since they continue to prepare medicines in the pharmacy. They are able to supervise the production and manufacturing of medicines and assessments of the quality of medicines before they are dispensed to patients.
- Monitoring of drug utilization
Pharmacies can participate in research projects to analyze prescriptions and monitor adverse reactions from OTC or prescription drugs.
- Basic health care
Many people in the community are unaware that pharmacists have received extensive training to offer basic healthcare services such as blood pressure checks, teaching diabetic patients how to use glucometers effectively, and ultimately providing an interpretation of their readings and of diagnostic tools.
- Top community source
Pharmacists are also the easiest source for recommendations of over-the-counter treatments, medications for common health disorders, and medical supplies. This helps patients save out-of-pocket costs and time from traveling to a doctor’s office.
- Collaborative practice agreements
Pharmacists work in tandem with physicians through Collaborative Practice Agreements or CPAs. They participate in the provision of expanded direct patient care through disease management.
Pharmacies now take on the role of the drug maker, drug dispenser, drug custodian, patient counselor, drug researcher, and drug educator. They now assume a critical job in the healthcare system, providing services not only to urban communities but also giving much more convenient healthcare access to people living in rural areas where physicians are not easily accessible.
During the height of the pandemic, the importance of pharmacies was also highlighted as they continued to provide direct patient care despite the restrictions imposed. When there was the inaccessibility of other medical professionals due to the lack of robust preparation for a health crisis, community pharmacies reduced the burden on the healthcare system. They diverted the influx of patients from hospitals through triaging and screening.
They also rose to the challenges of COVID-19 by thoroughly educating patients, clarifying common misconceptions about COVID-19, and contributing to COVID-19 screening. Pharmacies have played a vital part in the COVID-19 efforts, and they continue to do so and have not stopped working as part of the front-liners.
All these just go to show that the role of pharmacies in the healthcare system is beyond the counter and prescription delivery. To build a stronger community and healthcare system, their impact is significant and highly critical to improve healthcare across the nation.