The Future of Pharmacy

February 3, 2016 Kayla Sutton

Did you know that medication non-adherence causes ~30 to 50 percent of treatment failures and 125,000 deaths annually? Cost and inconvenience are just two of the many reasons why patients fail to comply with a medication regimen. And the current siloed relationship between healthcare providers and pharmacists is not helping.

Healthcare providers are starting to realize that the process that long existed – where physicians prescribed medication without discussing costs with patients or possible drug interactions with the pharmacist – must evolve to improve overall population health.

This change is not going to happen overnight. Many hospitals, like Edward-Elmhurst Healthcare, are making major strides toward this initiative. They are including the cost of therapy in their treatment discussions with patients and proactively scheduling follow-up appointments to discuss lower cost options.

Retail pharmacies already do a good job of appeasing patients by providing accessible and affordable services, offering efficient consultations on prescription costs and offering basic preventative care like immunizations. Given the success of the retail pharmacy model, more health systems expect to enter the retail space and increase the options available to their consumers (see chart below).

Additionally, many healthcare systems will partner with retail establishments in the local community to better collect data on patients who use acute, emergency and outpatient services. As a result, electronic health records (EHR) will provide a more holistic view and allow health systems to better care for patients.

Screenshot 2016-02-01 16.43.34

Self-reported pharmacy trends

Source: Premier online survey for Economic Outlook fall 2015 publication

When health systems transition to this population health model, it will require pharmacists to change the way they interact with patients. Some of the changes will include:

  • Talking to patients in their home setting;
  • Monitoring medication compliance;
  • Interacting with prescribers on appropriate medications and dosages;
  • Increasing collaboration with physician offices, patients and intermediate care facilities (such as long-term care or rehabilitation facilities); and
  • Having greater involvement in the non-acute/ambulatory space.


As pharmacists take on more responsibilities, cost reductions must offset the associated increase in resource use. Some healthcare experts are encouraging a system that reimburses pharmacists for these additional activities, and legislation is in the works that could make this happen under Medicare. This resulting revenue stream would create potential for pharmacists to bill and receive compensation for each activity they perform.

Although this change may increase upfront costs, a recent study has shown that integrating a pharmacist to help counsel, oversee and talk with patients ultimately reduces overall costs for health systems and patients, lowers readmission rates and improves overall population health.

To learn more about the emerging role that pharmacy plays in improving population health, CLICK HERE.

Author information

Kayla Sutton

Kayla Sutton

Managing director, Economic Outlook; Senior manager, supply chain strategy at Premier, Inc.

I’m a healthcare supply chain strategist living in Charlotte, NC (via DC and Boston) who researches, writes and speaks about trends in the healthcare system. When I’m not working you’ll have a hard time finding me because I like to travel.

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The post The Future of Pharmacy appeared first on Action For Better Healthcare.

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