Female pharmacist handing meds to patient

Shot of a pharmacist assisting a customer in a pharmacy

#APhM2019: How the Role of Pharmacists Has Changed

From apothecary to pharmacy, the role of the pharmacist has changed drastically as time has passed and technology has improved. In addition to dispensing medications, pharmacists are growing into the roles of medical counselors and prescribes. Here are a few ways the pharmacist role is changing:

Pharmacists can administer immunizations.

Since pharmacists are some of the most easily accessible healthcare professionals, it’s no surprise that pharmacists are able to administer immunizations. In 1996, the American Pharmacists Association (APhA), established a CDC-endorsed program called, Pharmacy-Based Immunization Delivery. The program teaches pharmacists the basics of immunizations and focuses on administering vaccinations and legal/regulatory issues. While all 50 states allow pharmacists to administer immunizations, each state has their own set of regulations, like types of vaccines that can be given and age limits of patients who can be treated Some of the most popular immunizations patients can get from pharmacists are the flu and shingles vaccines.

Pharmacists can dispense some medications without a prescription.

At the height of the opioid crisis, naloxone was distributed across the country to community pharmacies. Pharmacists in some can distribute naloxone to patients without a prescription from doctors. As of recently, a law was passed in California that allows pharmacists to dispense PrEP and PEP, medications for HIV prevention, without a prescription. In addition to those medications, pharmacists in some states can also dispense contraceptives, tobacco cessation aids, and more.

Pharmacists have become medical counselors.

Medication adherence is a top priority for pharmacists across the country. With access to data like patients’ immunization records and list of medications, pharmacists can counsel patients on how to take their prescriptions, or even recommend OTC drugs.  Since pharmacists are usually very accessible, patients can choose to consult their local pharmacist about a health issue, even before deciding to make an appointment with a physician.

Pharmacists and Genomics

As technology advances, data on medications and an individual’s genetics is becoming more and more utilized Pharmacogenomics, the study of how genes affect a person’s response to drugs, is a new field of pharma where pharmacists will have the opportunity to further their learning. Many drugs on the market do not work the same way for everyone. This study will hopefully allow prescribers and pharmacists to customize patients’ medication therapy to work with their genes.

Pharmacists’ roles are not only changing in the pharmacies, but outside of pharmacies, too. Some pharmacists use their expertise to help develop tools for pharmacies to better provide positive outcomes for patients. At PDX, we are proud to have many pharmacists on staff that provide insight for designers and developers to create software that helps make pharmacists’ jobs a little easier.

To learn more about PDX and our offerings, contact us here.

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