COVID-19 continues to stress overworked pharmacists – a fractional network of providers can help

It’s no secret pharmacists are overworked. Nearly a quarter of pharmacists felt workload exhaustion prior to the pandemic. And the issue persists. As of January 2022, that number leapt to 78 percent.

It’s easy to see why.

The provider shortage has impacted all providers, including pharmacists. As a result, burnout continues to increase. And many pharmacists are choosing retirement over working increasingly difficult hours in increasingly dangerous conditions.

So how can pharmacists continue to safely deliver efficient patient care? Here are three ways a fractional network of providers helps reduce stress for overworked pharmacists.

#1. Use telehealth to expand care delivery

Nearly 80 percent of the United States lacks access to necessary healthcare. And circumstances like transportation costs and personal mobility issues can further limit access to care. So even when living near robust healthcare infrastructures, patients may find themselves in a situational care desert.

While healthcare professionals have faced this problem for years, COVID-19 complicated the issue. Staffing shortages and workloads simultaneously increased, creating an vicious cycle. More people need care today, but there are fewer and fewer available to provide it.

RxLive provides solutions that support providers, healthcare networks, and the patients they care for, including a fractional network of pharmacists. Our fractional network….

  • Supplements existing care teams. RxLive’s services integrate into your existing systems and scale to match your capacity. This helps patients speak with their care teams more quickly and better understand their care.
  • Delivers care regardless of location. Delivering care via RxLive’s telehealth platform helps reach all patients, including those in remote locations or with mobility difficulties.

So say your pharmacy team is struggling to roll out the updated Covid vaccines while meeting the demands of flu season. Hiring a tech may not help – even if they’re certified to administer tests or vaccines, state regulations may limit the number of techs the pharmacist on shift can supervise.

Integrating RxLive’s fractional network into your existing pharmacy program, however, can help lessen your pharmacist’s administrative workload. With tasks like consultations administered by RxLive’s network, your on-site pharmacist can focus on in-person patient interactions.

#2. Support patients managing comorbidities including long Covid 

The reality of long Covid continues to add stress to the healthcare system. And for patients with preexisting conditions such as COPD and diabetes, the situation is even more complex. Pharmacists are in a unique position to support patients with comorbidities including long Covid.

Pharmacists empowered with RxLive’s tech can identify potential interactions among concurrent treatments and flag the patients most at risk. Then, they can reach out to patients and their physicians to help stop adverse events before they occur.

Consider, for example, a diabetic patient taking divalproex, Lantus insulin, regular insulin, Victoza, lisinopril, metformin, Zyprexa as well as simvastatin. Simvastatin poses significant risk of interaction with Paxlovid. 

If the patient is diagnosed with Covid, a pharmacist can advise their care team to delay treatment with Paxlovid until 12 hours after the last dose of simvastatin. And have the patient wait until five days after their course of Paxlovid is completed before restarting simvastatin.

Beyond stratifying risk and medication management, pharmacists use RxLive’s AI to reconcile clinical summaries and patient data. And when pharmacists have this information at hand, patients can benefit from their insight into complicated medication management and improve their long-term health.

The easier it is for patients to speak with their care teams, the more likely it is they’ll complete their courses of treatment. The result? Fewer hospitalizations and better patient health overall.

#3. Provide compassionate education to treat misinformation

We’ve written before about the power of pharmacists as educators. But pharmacists can do more than provide patients and physicians with up-to-date information about biologics. They can compassionately educate patients to help stop the spread – and impact – of misinformation.

Providers and patients want the same thing: cost-effective treatments that support healthy lives. Misinformation gets in the way of both.

When patients have the wrong information it delays care and increases the risk of adverse events. And it increases the amount of out-of-pocket money spent on medications – and even, in some cases, leads to a higher likelihood of hospitalization.

RxLive’s telehealth network provides a unique conduit of information that positively impacts patient health.

Pharmacists can proactively reach out with the most current information about interventions such as updated vaccine boosters. And because RxLive’s tools integrate directly with your network’s platform, pharmacists can provide informed, compassionate answers to patient questions.

That’s huge. The better patients understand their medications, the more likely they are to take them as directed – and the less likely they are to experience adverse events.

Pharmacists support dynamic transitions of care for all patients

Caring for COVID-19 patients continues to present dynamic challenges providers haven’t experienced. But with those challenges come opportunities.

The more contact pharmacists have with patients, the more opportunities they have to improve medication management and support their long-term health. As patients become accustomed to talking with their pharmacists about their care, they’ll become more likely to continue turning to them as advocates.

Interested in driving robust support for your team and your patients? Get in touch.

Kristen Engelen, PharmD
Kristen Engelen, PharmD, is the chief pharmacy officer of RxLive and a certified consultant pharmacist; she has over a decade of experience in retail pharmacy settings. Kristen became an RxLive co-founder because of her passion for geriatric pharmacy, with a focus on the intersection of pharmacy and aging.