DEERFIELD, Ill. — Face-to-face interaction between patients and pharmacists can boost medication adherence and cut costs from the health care system, says Dr. Cheryl Pegus, chief medical officer at Walgreen Co.
Pegus discussed the evolving role of pharmacists and the growing impact of pharmacist interventions on clinical outcomes earlier this month at the 11th annual Population Health and Care Coordination Colloquium in Philadelphia.
In a session titled “Impact and Value of Pharmacist Interventions in Different Settings,” she examined the effect that pharmacists are having on patients through face-to-face interactions at community pharmacies and work-site health clinics.
Pegus also highlighted the broader range of services offered by today’s pharmacists beyond dispensing medication, citing such services as drug monitoring, patient counseling, chronic care management, immunizations, medication therapy management and formulary management as well as public health initiatives like smoking cessation and diabetes education.
Data have shown that pharmacists add value by providing easier access and higher levels of interaction and engagement with patients than do other providers, according to Pegus.
“Innovative patient management models such as accountable care organizations, medical homes and e-health offerings are being proposed to help address the steep challenge of combating chronic diseases in the United States but face significant resource challenges to delivering care,” she explained. “Extensive data have shown that face-to-face interactions between patients and a trusted pharmacist can drive significant increases in adherence to medication, ultimately reducing costs to the system and resulting in better outcomes for patients.
“As these new models are implemented, the opportunity to more broadly utilize pharmacists as providers in the community and in the work site will play a key role in how successful they can be,” she added.
Also cited during the discussion session were several case studies that support the positive impact of pharmacist interactions, including the Asheville Project in North Carolina and the Diabetes Ten-City Challenge.
In addition, several Walgreens studies demonstrated successful outcomes for such company efforts as the Dimensions Program, which was launched in 2008 and centered on the chain’s collaboration with employers at work-site pharmacies to manage employee diabetes care.
Results from other studies examining the effect of pharmacist interaction on adherence were also discussed.
For example, patients with access to face-to-face pharmacist counseling at a work site showed nearly 10% higher overall adherence than those using telephone or mail order. And in another analysis, employees at a large company with access to an on-site pharmacist had over 12% fewer gaps in therapy with their chronic medications.
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