When most of us think about healthcare, our minds will instinctively picture doctors and nurses in a hospital setting. While these roles are important (especially so over the last two years), there are many other healthcare professionals who are key to achieving good health outcomes.
From physical therapists to health administration staff, there are hundreds of thousands of professionals who work hard each day to ensure the best possible outcome for patients all over the US.
However, one particular role that often gets missed in discussions about health professionals - the crucial role pharmacists play in helping to achieve positive health outcomes.
How pharmacists play a key role in healthcare
Traditionally, the role of pharmacists is to dispense prescription medications and provide advice to patients and professionals on how to get the most from them. Focused on maximizing the benefits and minimizing the risks of pharmaceuticals, pharmacists are experts in medication safety and potential drug interactions.
However, the work of pharmacists is changing. In addition to their core roles, pharmacists are increasingly assisting with medication management, chronic disease monitoring, patient education and disease prevention. Often more accessible than doctors and specialists, pharmacists have become an important entry point for people seeking healthcare in the US.
With the global pandemic placing unprecedented pressure on the health system, pharmacists have taken on a vital role in local communities, helping to promote preventative healthcare and educating the population about the importance of staying on top of their health and wellbeing.
Identifying and preventing medication interactions
One of the most important roles of pharmacists is identifying and avoiding potentially harmful interactions between medications. This is especially crucial for patients with more than one chronic condition, who are taking multiple prescription medications. Without the expert knowledge of pharmacists, the potential for contraindications in these cases are high.
Pharmacists not only have to guide patients when it comes to prescription medication, but they also need to stay on top of non-prescription medications too. Vitamin supplements, home remedies and non-medical substances may also interact and cause unexpected side effects for unsuspecting patients.
Assisting with medication compliance
Being on the frontline of healthcare gives pharmacists the opportunity to tackle the troublingly low levels of medication adherence. With 50% of patients not taking their medication as prescribed, poor medication compliance often results in worse health outcomes, deteriorating quality of life and escalating health expenses.
Pharmacists play a vital role in the community to address this problem. Through the use of a variety of tools, such as e-scripts, auto-refills, pillboxes, home monitoring and old fashioned communication, pharmacists can help patients overcome the barriers to using prescription medicine to improve their medication compliance and their overall health.
Providing support to the community
Another important role of pharmacists is to provide general health advice and support to their local community. With the healthcare system approaching breaking point, being able to ask a pharmacist questions about prescribed medication has helped many in the community access the help they need, when they need it.
In an age of misinformation and alternative truth, pharmacists work hard to answer questions, tackle myths and guide patients towards treatments that will actually make a difference to their lives. Whether they provide advice in person, by phone or online, pharmacists play an important role in educating, supporting and guiding people towards positive health outcomes.
Helping to reduce healthcare costs
On the frontline of preventative medicine, pharmacists can play a key role in helping to reduce the spiraling costs of healthcare. Chronic conditions are on the rise and cost the country $3.7 trillion each year in both direct (e.g. hospitalizations) and indirect costs (e.g. lost income). Meanwhile, medication non-adherence alone costs the US $528 million annually.
The key to controlling chronic disease lies in prescription medication. If patients can easily access the medication they need to manage their chronic conditions (and have confidence in how to take them), these costs will go down. In dispensing prescription medication, pharmacists have the opportunity to help reduce healthcare costs right at the source.
How HomeMed can help you improve health outcomes
As a nationally licensed mail-order pharmacy, HomeMed plays a crucial role in helping the community access trusted healthcare. Partnering with employers, onsite clinics and telehealth providers, HomeMed makes prescription medication more affordable, accessible and convenient for people all across the United States.
With the help of bulk-buying power and an online model of care, HomeMed keeps costs low, while still providing direct access to pharmacists to answer questions and provide advice. Offering auto-refills, a handy online app and home delivery, we make it easier for people to access the medication they need, when they need it, improving medication adherence and overall well-being.