Thanks to a growing body of research indicating initial success, pharmacists are now increasingly being incorporated into patient care teams to offer their own unique perspectives and medication insights. Hospital pharmacists are also becoming active in medication reconciliation and discharge planning—which is helping to reduce readmission rates.
A number of factors, from value-based reimbursement shifts to readmissions initiatives, make it an opportune time to start better leveraging the clinical value of hospital pharmacists. Specifically, today’s hospitals would largely benefit from increased pharmacist involvement in addressing these pain points:
- Adverse drug events – while these errors are top of mind for care providers, pharmacists can help streamline medication delivery from the central pharmacy to the patient, reducing errors.
- Compounding pharmacies – even years after major regional outbreaks due to poor compounding practices, this remains a serious problem for hospitals nationwide. Issues of proper sterility, handling and storage of these compounds can be managed by a pharmacist specifically assigned to these processes.
- Drug diversion / opioid abuse – the opioid epidemic impacts individuals in every walk of life, and healthcare providers may be more susceptible due to their increased access to addictive medications. According to the U.S. Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration, one in every ten providers struggles with an addiction – many of these individuals may be diverting medications from the hospital to fuel this addiction. Using analytics tools and joining multi-disciplinary teams targeting diversion are just two ways pharmacists can play an integral role in preventing and identifying diverters.
- Antibiotic stewardship – hospitals will soon be under increased pressure to reduce the overall use of antibiotics as the White House backs programs to reduce the prevalence of drug-resistant superbugs. Via consultations, pharmacists can apply their medication expertise to identify which cases may be better suited to alternative therapies, helping to reduce antibiotic overuse.
- Readmissions – care transitions are increasing in importance, with the point of discharge arguably one of the most important times in a patient’s hospital stay. Pharmacists can help reduce this risk at multiple points throughout the patient journey, from medication reconciliation at admission to medication counseling or ensuring proper follow-up care in the community at discharge.
While hospital pharmacists have traditionally operated in a silo, their ability to address these and other C-suite pain points positions these professionals to improve hospital operations. As pharmacists in the community also receive expanded care privileges through provider status bills, hospital pharmacists will see their role in patient care increase as savvy providers look to leverage all clinical expertise.