Scope of Services
Pharmacists are highly trained health-care providers who find themselves on the frontline of patient care. In many medically underserved communities, pharmacists are the providers within the closest reach of people in need.
The practice of pharmacy – like other medical professions – is regulated by state laws and regulations. For more information on state scopes of practice visit the National Alliance of State Pharmacy Associations website. PAPCC is not calling for any changes to state licensure and scope of practice laws or regulations. Rather, PAPCC is advocating for appropriate Medicare payment to pharmacists who are already licensed to deliver an array of services to Medicare beneficiaries.
Types of Care
While pharmacists are best known for their commitment to dispensing prescription medications, pharmacists are trained and licensed in many states to deliver far more healthcare services. These services include:
- Administering Immunizations: Pharmacists in all states are trained and licensed to administer vaccines. This capacity augments our vaccine delivery system and is particularly critical to prevent or limit outbreaks of influenza or other communicable diseases for which vaccines exist.
- Managing Chronic Diseases: Persons with chronic disease and multiple chronic conditions are disproportionate drivers of healthcare costs. Pharmacists can – and do – play important roles in working with physicians and other providers to help these patients control and manage their diseases. This includes making sure patients understand their medication regimen as well as actions they can take – such as eating or avoiding certain foods and exercising – to attain a higher state of overall health. In addition to yielding improved health outcomes, chronic disease management helps limit much higher costs when patients are admitted to hospitals or visit emergency departments.
- Wellness Testing: In addition to helping chronically ill patients manage their conditions, pharmacists play an important role in testing patients and identifying potential conditions in need of further care. Wellness testing conducted by trained pharmacists help identify conditions such as hypertension, diabetes, cardiovascular disease and other ailments patients may have or be at risk of developing. In medically underserved communities or shortage areas where access to physicians is contained, such tests take on even greater importance.
- Medication Management: With a sizeable segment of the population on one or more prescription medication, medication management is critical to managing patient health. Unfortunately, low adherence to prescribed regimens means too many patients are not taking their medications as they should. A related problem comes in the potential negative interactions of medications, particularly when patients have multiple physicians, none of whom may see the whole picture. Pharmacists are uniquely well positioned and extremely well-qualified to help patients understand their medications and can conduct regular follow-up discussions. Pharmacists are all well-positioned to understand potential complications between medications – since they can likely see the patient’s full regimen – and to flag areas of concern for physicians or other providers.