Expanding Pharmacists’ Roles for Better Health
As the world faces COVID-19 and its brutal implications, health care professionals are stepping forward to face the challenge head on. With their knowledge and skill, pharmacists now play an even more important and visible patient care role. In fact, most states have expanded pharmacists’ authority during the pandemic to ensure patients get their medications. Also, earlier this month, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) issued guidance authorizing licensed pharmacists to order and administer COVID-19 tests.
“Pharmacists, in partnership with other health care providers, are well positioned to aid COVID-19 testing expansion,” according to the HHS statement. “Pharmacists are trusted health care professionals with established relationships with their patients.”
Likewise, when a COVID-19 vaccine is available, pharmacists can be critical to disease prevention only if they have the authority to vaccinate patients. Just last week, Morning Consult ran an opinion piece titled “To Boost Adult Vaccinations, Empower Pharmacists.” Pfizer’s Robert Popovian and Dave Hering write: “The coronavirus outbreak shows us that when pandemics occur, our health care system needs to have a way to quickly react and get preventative treatments to a broad population in a timely manner.”
Popovian and Hering go on to cite the positive impact vaccination has on public health. Still, the authors state that immunization rates for adults are “abysmal.” Less than 50 percent of adults 19 and older get a flu shot every year. Perhaps more stunning is that only 23 percent of adult patients between ages 18 and 65 with risk factors get a pneumococcal vaccination.
“One approach to encourage adult vaccination is to further expand the ability of community-based pharmacists to administer vaccines,” Popovian and Hering write. “Patients and health systems have benefitted most when pharmacists are allowed to immunize patients.”
Over the past two decades, our profession has evolved to enable pharmacists to better serve patients and improve health care outcomes. While the COVID-19 pandemic ravages our health care system and its workers, the important role of pharmacists in providing front-line patient care has become even more pressing.
Here at AMCP, we’re working hard to help our members improve patient health by ensuring access to high-quality, cost-effective medications and other therapies. I want to call your attention to a few of our latest resources and announcements. First, AMCP is hosting eLearning Days, April 20–24. Visit our website to see the detailed schedule and register. Next, be sure to check out our new COVID-19 Resource Center. Lastly, AMCP members should mark their calendars for the AMCP Member Town Hall on April 29 from 2 to 3pm ET.
Please stay safe. Thank you for your dedication to health care.