Pharmacists Positioned to Fill Healthcare Gap

HealthDay News — Pharmacists can do an effective job helping chronically ill patients manage their blood pressure, cholesterol, and blood glucose levels if they are allowed to direct patients’ health care, according to an evidence review published online April 26 in the Annals of Internal Medicine.

Timothy Wilt, MD, MPH, professor of medicine at the University of Minnesota Medical School in Minneapolis, and colleagues reviewed 63 published studies. The studies included 65 different patient populations with more than 33 000 people.

The findings suggest that patients receiving pharmacist-led care were more likely to achieve target goals for blood pressure, cholesterol, and blood glucose compared with patients receiving usual care. Pharmacist-led care also increased the dosage or the number of medications being received. “It’s not clear whether that’s a good thing or not,” Dr Wilt told HealthDay. “Some people should be on more medications, but for others, they should be on fewer.”

New legislation introduced in Congress would establish pharmacists as health care providers and pay them accordingly through Medicare in communities where there aren’t enough physicians, according to the study authors. Pharmacists acting as a person’s primary care provider would be able to evaluate a patient’s health, advise them how to best manage their chronic conditions, and possibly even have the power to order tests or prescribe medicines, Dr Wilt said.

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