Should you hire a clinical pharmacist for your practice?

Value-based reimbursement for healthcare has arrived.

Transitioning from a fee-for-service model to a focus on creating healthier people will require innovation in the way we deliver healthcare.

So, what types of strategies are medical practices pursuing to optimize quality care? Providing more frequent patient touch-points in order to modify patient behaviors, establish accountability, and motivate patients to actively take part in their own care plan. However, we know that physicians are already pressed for time. Partnering with allied health professionals in order to engage more effectively with patients may be one solution.  I would suggest that you consider adding a clinical pharmacist to your team.

Strategies to improve medication adherence rates can have a significant impact on a practice’s bottom line.

If you take the case of complicated patients with multiple comorbidities and medications,  a key component to the success of the care plan is medication adherence. If you further consider the rate of hospital admissions and readmissions due to adverse drug events, one can see that the additional expense of hiring a pharmacist will produce a substantial return on investment. In fact, a recent study in the Journal of Managed Care and Specialty Pharmacy found that the ROI on comperhensive medication therapy management was 12:1!

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Medication adherence quality measures comprise a large number of the measures CMS is currently utilizing to determine reimbursement.

So how does a clinical pharmacist provide value?

  • by working with providers to optimize medication therapy
  • by performing medication reconciliation post-discharge
  • by providing medication therapy management services
  • by improving patient medication adherence
  • by providing patient medication education
  • by assisting with transitions of care and drug regimen review

When considering how to incorporate a clinical pharmacist into primary care, a great resource has been developed by The American Medical Association’s STEPS forward program. Check out their tools and resources toolkit, which includes a Needs Assessment Worksheet to determine which type of pharmacy support role can best benefit your practice.

CMS is eager to see innovation in the delivery of healthcare and has encouraged the use of telehealth services.  If hiring a full-time clinical pharmacist is prohibitively expensive for your practice, you might consider adding pharmacist telehealth services as an alternative. The cost to implement telehealth services is considerably less and presents an innovative way to incorporate a clinical pharmacist into your workflow. The patient need not be scheduled for an in-office visit, creating a significant cost-savings for your practice.  A telehealth visit is an opportunity to provide an additional touch-point, provide expanded access to high-quality care, and improve the patient experience.

Clinical Pharmacists are highly trained allied health professionals that can bring a significant amount of value to the primary care team, assist in decision support around medication options, and improve patient medication adherence rates, all while ultimately improving the health and well being of patients.

For a free guide on how to integrate a clinical pharmacist into your practice click here.

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At RxLive our goal is to help people get healthy and stay well.  Our pharmacist telehealth services allow us to partner with patients and their families to achieve better health and outcomes.

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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.