Staffing shortages among healthcare providers have many downstream effects on everything from patient care to reimbursement and thinning margins. But they’re also causing a shift in public perception: More people now trust pharmacists to play a bigger role in managing their care, according to new research from the Columbia University Mailman School of Public Health in New York and Express Scripts Pharmacy.
With more than half (51.8%) of the US population suffering from at least one chronic disease and a quarter suffering from multiple chronic diseases, prescription medications are often the first line of defense in helping patients manage these diseases, according to the report.
During 2015-2018, nearly half of the U.S. population used at least one prescription medication, nearly a quarter (21.4%) used three or more, and more than 10% used five out of five medications. prescription or more.
All of this, along with the rise of chronic disease and increased drug use, as well as the move towards value-based payment models, is putting pharmacists in the spotlight.
WHAT IS THE IMPACT
When pharmacists were asked if they had the interest and confidence to meet the needs of physicians and patients in the future of pharmacy, over 75% agreed or strongly agreed with their ability to be a resource for drug interactions, medication management and pharmacotherapy.
Patient confidence in pharmacists is at a new high. Patients surveyed had a high to moderate level of trust in pharmacists to perform most activities, including prescribing medications (40.5% high confidence, 32.4% moderate confidence), performing tests health and welfare (37.5% versus 42.1%) and the provision of illnesses. specific advice (33.1% versus 44%). More than 79% of patients surveyed and 55% of providers surveyed found pharmacists to be a reliable source of general health information beyond general medication questions.
When providers were asked whether they trusted pharmacists to perform specific activities for patients with chronic conditions, providers noted a high level of trust for traditional pharmacist tasks, with high to moderate trust exceeding often 90%. For more direct patient care tasks, provider confidence rose from just over 50% to just under 50%.
However, for providers who have previously collaborated with pharmacists in multidisciplinary teams, the level of confidence to provide additional health support and disease-specific advice or to prescribe medications, both acute and chronic, has increased significantly.
Approximately 77% of patients surveyed viewed pharmacists as an integral member of the healthcare team, while approximately 76% said they would be very or extremely comfortable with pharmacists checking their vital signs.
Meanwhile, pharmacists expect to take on more direct patient care responsibilities in the future, with more than 80% saying they will take on more patient counseling functions and play a role more important in preventive care measures.
THE GREAT TREND
In a recent Gallup poll, pharmacists were rated the fourth most honest and ethical profession in the country by respondents. At 63%, pharmacists followed only primary school teachers (64%), doctors (67%) and nurses (81%). Nurses were the top-ranked profession for the 20th consecutive year.
Only two other occupations scored 50% or more: police officers (53%) and child care providers (50%).
Gallup credits the numbers to their public service at the start of the pandemic. Their ratings are down eight to 11 points this year, essentially returning to pre-pandemic levels.