Friday, May 4, 2012

Evolving Role of the Pharmacist

Image courtesy of time_anchor on flickr

We’ve blogged before about increasing interest in the role that pharmacists play in providing patient care and support throughout the treatment continuum. And findings from our ePharma Consumer® 2011 study of consumer digital pharma trends show that pharmacists are a key source of treatment information, with 43 percent of online U.S. adults reporting that they learn about prescription drugs from pharmacists, beating out friends and family, nurses, and various traditional media channels. 

A few examples have cropped up in recent months highlighting the “pharmacist as consultant”, a trend that we expect to continue as major pharmacy chains and retailers push further into the care delivery space over the next few years.

Walgreens “Find Your Pharmacist” allows consumers to locate pharmacists tailored to health needs

Walgreens has been a trailblazer pushing forward the pharmacy care delivery trend – and the company’s new “Find Your Pharmacist” tool speaks to their desire for pharmacists to be a key patient partner. The online tool assists consumers in finding pharmacists that meet their specific health needs (including clinical backgrounds or expertise, specialties, and languages). And as Walgreens president of pharma, health and wellness Kermit Crawford notes, “The pharmacist-patient relationship can be very instrumental in helping to improve health outcomes because patients often are talking with their pharmacist more often than their primary care physician.”

Pharmacies are leaders in mobile Rx initiatives

Pharmacists are on front lines of dispensing medicine and are well positioned to support adherence. Major pharmacy chains and retailers have been particularly innovative in using mobile to this end, with Walgreens, CVS, Rite Aid, Target, and Walmart all offering some sort of mobile Rx refill or reminder service. Rite Aid, a bit later to the game than its competitors, just launched its Rx Refill app this past March, and Walgreens pushed further ahead by adding medication reminder alerts to its app recently. 

Pfizer UK puts a focus on pharmacists

Pfizer UK recently launched an online portal for pharmacists, Access Pharma for Professionals, which has a section devoted to providing pharmacists with patient support materials to promote a “quality patient experience” – a sign that some pharmas are exploring the pharmacy as an alternative patient touch point.

We’ll be looking at the pharmacists’ take and what they want from pharma in future months with our new Taking the Pulse® Pharmacists study, so look out for more posts on that later.

Posted by Maureen Malloy, Senior Healthcare Analyst