January 28, 2015
Powerful Allies: Governors Endorse Expanded Pharmacist Role

Washington, D.C.—Pharmacists have some powerful allies in their efforts to expand their provider status: governors of the 50 states.

A paper released recently by the National Governors Association (NGA) notes that pharmacists’ roles are evolving beyond dispensing medication to providing direct care to patients as part of an integrated team of healthcare providers. The report, entitled The Expanding Role of Pharmacists in a Transformed Health Care System, examines ways states can better integrate pharmacists into their healthcare delivery system, including amending existing laws and regulations to allow them to practice to the full scope of their profession.

“As the health care system undergoes a major transformation in both finance and the delivery of services, states are focusing on improved quality and health outcomes,” said NGA Executive Director Dan Crippen. “Integrating pharmacists, who represent the third largest health profession, into the health care delivery system is one way to meet those goals.”

The issue brief is the fourth in a series that also examined the roles of physician assistants, nurse practitioners, and dental hygienists in expanding access to care.

The pharmacy report emphasizes that integrating pharmacists into chronic-care delivery teams, in particular, has the potential to improve health outcomes because of the critical role medication management plays in treating chronic diseases. It cites studies indicating that pharmacists who provide medication therapy management services can improve outcomes and reduce costs.

“Several key challenges and barriers, however, prevent the full integration of pharmacists into health care delivery teams: restrictive laws and regulations governing CPAs, lack of provider recognition in federal and state law governing compensation of pharmacists who provide direct patient-care services, and limitations on pharmacists’ ability to access health information systems,” according to the report.

The NGA brief calls for states to review the laws and regulations affecting pharmacy and consider actions to expand scope of practice to better integrate pharmacists into the healthcare delivery system. It points out that some states have created an alternative designation in advanced practice pharmacy, allowing pharmacists to provide direct patient care.

National pharmacy groups applauded the endorsement.

“APhA is thrilled that the National Governors Association cites the use of pharmacists and their patient care services as an opportunity for states to provide more effective and efficient healthcare,” said Stacie Maass, BSPharm, JD, APhA, Senior Vice President of Pharmacy Practice and Government Affairs for the American Pharmacists Association. “The report lays out for state governments what our profession and our patients already know—that pharmacists and their patient care services are an integral part of the patient’s health care team because of the value they bring to patients and the health care system.”

U.S. Pharmacist Social Connect