Not Enough to Go Around

August 16, 2010
Shrink Rap

Why are pharmacists taking a bigger role in patient care?

This post originally appeared on Shrink Rap.

In Friday's New York Timesthere's an article entitled "Pharmacists Take Larger Role on Health Team". The article discusses pharmacies that are expanding their revenue by adding services to their usual role of dispensing medication. In addition to watching for drug interactions, pharmacists are recommending alternative cheaper medications to patients and offering life style advice for chronic conditions. In some pharmacies they work with nurses to monitor diseases such as diabetes and hypertension. As one pharmacist in the story put it, “We are not just going to dispense your drugs…We are going to partner with you to improve your health as well.”

Why is this happening?

Business forces, of course. Once pharmacists did a lot more than they do now. They used to manually make medications---compounding pills and tinctures and unguents---in a time-intensive process. Now, they dispense packets of pills that are mass produced in factories. That's a lot of education just to stand behind a counter and fill a prescription. The profession becomes more attractive when it is framed in terms of patient counseling and fundamental health care interactions.

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