In the US healthcare system, primary care serves as the foundation. But there are challenges facing today’s primary care providers. For example, a 2008 study found that the proportion of newly graduated U.S. medical students who choose primary care as a career has declined by 50 percent since 1997. A group of professionals who are equipped to address some of these challenges are today’s pharmacists. They are a potential resource that can be used to increase access to primary care by addressing one of the most challenging aspects of patient care – appropriate medication management.
Physicians practicing in primary care comprise one-third of the U.S. physician workforce yet are responsible for more than half of all patient visits. Generalist physician graduates have dipped by 22 percent in the past decade.
There’s no sign of this slump ending as med school graduates increasingly are drawn to more lucrative specialties with less challenges to patient care. At the same time, the U.S. population is increasing and the demand for primary healthcare services continues to outpace the available supply of primary care providers. By solving some of these unmet practice needs, doctors may want to return to generalist practices.
Pharmacists can be utilized as a potential resource to increase access to primary care and address one of the most challenging aspects of patient care – appropriate medication management. Pharmacists are trained and qualified to provide the required care around medication management in the primary care setting.
People are enjoying the benefits of medications more than ever. Most people over the age of 65 regularly take some type of prescription medication. Many are on several different medications. The more medications being taken, the better chance that a patient is not administering them all as directed. This can increase the chances of harmful interactions and other risks.
In addition, many patients leave their appointments with their physicians and don’t understand what they’ve been told. Only a small percentage of patients with diseases like diabetes, cholesterol issues, and hypertension have their symptoms under full control.
When pharmacists take a more active role in the patient care process they can reduce and eliminate some of these problems. This collaborative care model can benefit the patient’s medication experience. Providers can also assign certain tasks to the pharmacist like ordering lab tests, monitoring blood pressure, and measuring and modifying dosage or medication types.
This sort of collaboration can greatly improve the outcome for patients suffering from health issues like elevated cholesterol levels, diabetes, hypertension, or clotting disorders. Having a pharmacist as part of the healthcare team can help reduce costs and alleviate some adverse medication reactions. This frees up time for physicians to spend more time with patients with more serious conditions, and allows the pharmacist to assist in the day-to-day management of patient care in regard to their medications.
Medly is more than just a specialty pharmacy – in fact, we offer a range of free services to make the prescription process painless for patients. Medly provides medication management support in the following ways:
Custom medication & dosage packaging We offer free customizable packaging that organizes the patients medications for convenience and access. This is especially beneficial for older patients or patients with multiple maintenance medications. Pharmacist consultation via phone or video Here at Medly, we have dedicated pharmacists to assist patients with questions or concerns they may have about their medications, all at no cost to the patient. Medication synchronization & smart refills Medly communicates with insurance companies to try to synchronize the fill dates as much as possible so the patient receives fewer deliveries. Dedicated patient experience advocated in 12+ languages Free same-day delivery or mail order Educational materials Financial assistance We help our patients by reducing their cost and finding them savings such as manufacturer coupons and/ or co-pay foundation options.
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Resources Welcome to the Future of Pharmacy Primary Care Has Its Problems, but Also Opportunities to Improv Pharmacists’ Contributions to Primary Care in the United States Collaborating to Address Unmet Patient Care Needs Challenges in Primary Care