Pharmacists are uniquely positioned to impact patient outcomes. Due to their accessibility and expertise, they play a key role in identifying and addressing gaps in care that can lead to negative (and even deadly) consequences for patients.
Trust is also a significant factor. For several years now, pharmacists have been recognized as one of the top five most trusted professionals. According to Steven C. Anderson, CEO of the National Association for Chain Drug Stores (NACDS), patients trust pharmacists and rely on their accessibility. “Studies show that patients are more likely to do the things that keep them healthy when they have access to pharmacists and pharmacies,” he explained.
Let’s talk about how pharmacist interventions impact patient outcomes:
How Do Pharmacist Interventions Impact Patient Outcomes?
Pharmacists impact outcomes by ensuring each patient gets the right drug, in the right dose, at the right time. To do so, pharmacists intervene when patients experience medication-related gaps in care, attempting to:
Educate patients about drugs and disease states
Pharmacists are experts in all things medication. They’re incredibly knowledgeable about different medications, disease states, and factors that influence non-adherence. That’s why patients trust pharmacists first and foremost to answer questions and provide helpful insights about their conditions and prescriptions. This can improve health literacy and reduce fear and distrust in non-adherent patients.
There’s also something to be said about the power and effectiveness of clinician-led interventions, which are typically more impactful for patients. Because it’s their bread and butter, pharmacists can answer questions and educate patients (and prescribers) about their medications more efficiently than other clinicians.
Identify medication-related gaps in care
In addition to providing education about drugs and disease states, pharmacist interventions also hone in on medication-related gaps in care and barriers to adherence. When evaluating a patient’s medication regimen, pharmacists look for the following:
- Medication non-adherence: Is a patient taking their medication as prescribed by their physician? If not, pharmacists can intervene to identify and address potential barriers to proper adherence.
- Missing medications: Is a patient missing a medication that would improve their condition? For example, diabetic patients should be prescribed a statin to prevent high cholesterol, but this is often overlooked and can lead to a gap in care.
- Incorrect medication dosage: Is a patient prescribed too much or too little of a specific medication? In some cases, pharmacists must coordinate with prescribers to adjust a patient’s dose.
- Drug-disease contraindications: Is a patient prescribed a medication that isn’t working or could have negative consequences? For instance, some patients are prescribed to medications that directly impact another existing health condition.
- Drug-drug contraindications: Is a patient prescribed multiple drugs that may interact with each other and cause unwelcome side effects? Some medications negatively interact with one another, creating potential patient safety concerns and increasing the likelihood of medication non-adherence.
Optimizing Pharmacist Interventions with Artificial Intelligence
Although pharmacist interventions are already impactful, they can become even more effective when supplemented with the right technology. Using artificial intelligence (AI) technology, pharmacists can tailor their interventions to have the greatest possible impact. AI-powered interventions enable pharmacists to:
Target high-risk patients.
Pharmacists can use AI to identify which patients have the highest likelihood of becoming non-adherent or experiencing another medication-related gap in care. Additionally, AI can predict which patients are most likely to respond to an intervention.
With a targeted list of patients to reach out to, pharmacists can use AI to personalize interventions by channel, content, and timing. No two patients are the same, and what works for some patients will not work for others. Personalizing interventions based on each individual’s needs and preferences increases the chance of a positive outcome.
Our Walgreens case study is the perfect example of how pharmacies can use AI to boost adherence and positively impact patient outcomes. Get the case study to learn how AI can increase population adherence by predicting optimal interventions.