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National Pharmacist Day: Recognizing the evolving role of the pharmacist

As we recognize National Pharmacist Day on Jan. 12, it’s a good time to think about the evolving role of pharmacists. Can you believe it all started with products of nature being crushed in a mortar and pestle at a local drug store that served fountain beverages and malts?

Today, the model is highly automated with application-driven systems that help drive patient medication adherence. It’s difficult to predict the next big changes, but interestingly, pharmacy curricula lead the next generation of pharmicists into an advanced clinical foreground rather than a dispensing field.

Automation will lead to better patient care

Pharmacist dispensing duties will continue to be phased out and those obligations will be further designated to technicians or machines. System checks such as barcoding will enable processes to run almost flawlessly, permiting the pharmacist to focus more on direct patient care.

A trend of furthering education

Many experienced, registered pharmacists that graduated before the doctorate program existed are electing to go back for a Doctor of Pharmacy degree to keep up with the advancing profession. The majority of pharmacy graduates are choosing to complete residencies, outside of community pharmacy, that will further hone their skills as practitioners. Businesses have begun posting very specific jobs that require extra education and experience such as post-transplant pharmacist or infectious-disease pharmacist.

Opportunities beyond dispensing

Becoming a part of the healthcare team is one area that is continuing to grow for pharmacists.  We fully embrace this idea at Allscripts, where we have pharmacists who work as business analysts, develop clinical content, accelerate business development, and conduct clinical research.

Our pharmacists help with strategic planning for new product development, help develop software interfaces, and provide clinical knowledge and support to clients. In addition, we help set up accounts for our partners, document and create knowledge articles for our clients, help educate customers of our advanced networks to link practitioners together, and review educational content that our patients will receive after being seen by a physician.

Medication adherence continues to be at the forefront of our execution plans to continue achieving our goal of increasing safety, efficiency and cost. We also partner with doctors, nurses, care coordinators, therapists, and PhD’s. Our team strategizes to find out how our clients will use our software, how easy and efficient it can be integrated into their daily workflow, how we can offer it at a reasonable cost, and what kind of support we can offer to help it stay running properly.

My journey to IT pharmacy

I first heard about IT pharmacy on a rotation at a long-term acute care hospital while working with the director of pharmacy in 2007. It was a a fairly new concept with very limited resources to train those intersted. I did my best to pick up concepts so that I would be better equipped when an opportunity presented itself.

Over the past four years, IT pharmacy gave me the opportunity to learn about system functions and help drive patient workflow processes that most pharmacists traditionally use to perform their daily job duties. Being highly involved in the first step of the prescribing process helps me better understand designed workflow and how to troubleshoot common errors and breakdowns.

Pharmacists today should continue to look for opportunities to fill healthcare gaps throughout the community. As technology expands, we can continue to employ more pharmacists with outside and fresh perspectives on the pharmaceutical market changes. I’m excited about new drug development as precision and targeted therapies advance. Pharmacists will understand how these receptors operate and be able to present ideas into the workflow to more effectively prescribe medications that treat complex disease states.

National Pharmacist Day is a great time to thank pharmacists for their loyalty and dedication to creating a connected community of care.

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