The role of pharmacists is shifting dramatically. No longer must a pharmacist practice in a clinical setting in order to deliver clinical care. Similarly to other professions, pharmacists nationwide are finding themselves able to work remotely from anywhere with an internet connection.
What role does a remote pharmacist play in healthcare?
Since its creation over fifty years ago, telehealth has faced multiple barriers preventing true adoption. However, we all saw telehealth gather steam during the COVID-19 pandemic, remote clinical pharmacy services included.
The work of pharmacists is perfectly suited to a remote delivery model because it removes the stressors that inhibit high-quality consultations in physical locations. While pharmacists in a retail environment have all the expertise needed to deliver medication consultations to their patients, it’s simply untenable due to long lines, tight deadlines, and stressful quotas. By extricating pharmacists from this setting and empowering them to work remotely, they can deliver the services they were trained and educated for.
The most common service provided by remote clinical pharmacists is medication therapy management (MTM), a critical part of maintaining the health of patients who take multiple medications to manage their chronic conditions. During a remote MTM consultation, a clinical pharmacist can speak with a patient about their full medication regimen, discover potentially harmful interactions between medications, and help the patient plan to optimize their health.
Remote clinical pharmacists also play a key role in improving medication adherence. It’s important that medications are taken as directed—easier said than done for patients with extensive medication regimens. Pharmacists can educate these patients and build relationships that encourage proper adherence, leading to better condition management and overall health.
Patient healthcare challenges
The primary healthcare challenge facing the US today is the rate of chronic disease. There are obvious effects such as poor health outcomes and lower quality of life. But chronic disease and the expensive therapies required for condition management are also contributors to the rising cost of healthcare. In fact, more than half of Americans have at least one chronic condition. No wonder over 70% of US healthcare spending is driven by patients with chronic conditions.
Who can benefit from remote clinical pharmacist care?
Remote clinical pharmacy programs offer tremendous benefits for both patients and pharmacists. With remote care, patients no longer must spend money or time on transportation to speak with a pharmacist or physician about their medications. Remote delivery of clinical pharmacy programs also increases healthcare access for rural patients who are too far from their primary care physician to regularly receive care. Now with a remote pharmacist, they can get help optimizing their medications anywhere they have access to a telephone or smart device.
Pharmacists also benefit greatly from the migration to remote care delivery. They no longer face the stresses of staffing issues, inventory management, and long lines of inpatient pharmacy customers. When given the opportunity to deliver care from the comfort of home, pharmacists thrive. Remote care delivery means more flexibility, autonomy, and career satisfaction for clinical pharmacists.
Benefits of a remote pharmacist
1. Detect dangerous events before they occur
During a remote comprehensive medication review (CMR), pharmacists dive deep into the member’s medication regimen, reviewing each medication, its purpose, and how it is being taken versus how it was prescribed. During this process, pharmacists often uncover issues that members—or even their physicians—are unaware of. These could include duplicative medications, contraindicated medications, or unnecessary medications. Pharmacists then are empowered to educate the member and contact the prescribing physician for intervention.
2. Empower members to live healthier lives
Pharmacists are more than medication experts. They are highly educated healthcare professionals who can assist patients in setting health goals and making actionable plans to achieve optimal health. During a remote pharmacy consultation, pharmacists can explain the benefits of a varied diet, consistent exercise, and routine vaccinations, all with the goal of empowering the member to play an active role in managing their own health.
3. Improve levels of pharmacist fulfillment
The ripple effects of deploying remote pharmacy consultations benefit more than members. Pharmacists also experience increased levels of satisfaction when given the option to deliver care remotely. Focusing on the time it takes to provide a truly comprehensive medication consultation unlocks their deep passion for helping patients and gives them the freedom and flexibility to live a life full of the things that matter most.
4. Improved health plan performance
Health plans have plenty to gain from deploying programs utilizing remote pharmacists. Costs can be high to hire, train, and retain an in-house clinical pharmacy team. But the good news is now plans don’t have to. Through remote pharmacy platforms such as Aspen RxHealth, members can get the same high-quality care at a much lower cost to their plan. With Medicare dollars hanging in the balance, dependent on clinical pharmacy performance, health plans can’t afford to not consider switching to a remote model.
If your health plan is struggling with the performance of its clinical pharmacy programs, now is a good time to consider a model built around remote pharmacists. Schedule a free consultation with an Aspen RxHealth solutions expert to explore how we can support your performance and your members’ health.