When it comes to collaboration between physicians and pharmacists, there is one simple thing to be said – it needs to be improved.
Lack of Collaboration
One big structural obstacle is that documentation related to specific patients cannot be shared between the two. Time constraints are another problem. Pharmacists complain that they often have problems tracking down physicians to question them about patients or prescriptions. And especially now, when healthcare providers are dealing with the pandemic, time is really at a premium.
Often, pharmacists have important information that physicians do not, such as out-of-pocket costs for medications and refill histories. Several physicians may use the same pharmacy to fill prescriptions, so the pharmacist can identify possible harmful drug interactions and redundancies in treatment, which the physicians may not be aware of. At the same time, physicians have information about diagnoses and other background data, such as a patient’s weight, not available to pharmacists.
There are ways to improve collaboration.
In Missouri, for example, collaborative drug therapy is allowed between physicians and pharmacists. This enables pharmacists to start, end, or change noncontrolled medication therapies. However, there are barriers to running the program. Pharmacists cited issues with time and reimbursement. Physicians cited clinical issues, concerns about pharmacists’ lack of proper clinical training.
Sharing of patient records would also go a long way toward improving collaboration and patient outcomes.
For example, pharmacies often make calls to patients to check on their adherence to a medication regimen. As a result, they uncover obstacles that patients encounter in trying to maintain their medication according to schedule. If physicians could access this information through referrals or sharing of records, patient outcomes would improve tremendously.
Some pharmacists suggested that pharmacists and physicians establish ongoing group conversations to discuss issues they face in trying to collaborate. These include things like prior authorizations and streamlining processes.
Both also face difficulties related to reimbursement. It would help to know what restraints physicians are under when prescribing, according to pharmacists. And physicians need to understand that pharmacists are acting as advocates for patients. It is about establishing relationships, according to pharmacists.
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