Wall Street Journal (06/26/12) Landro, Laura
The short supply of primary-care physicians coupled with the time constraints that have made it difficult for these doctors to review medications have forced pharmacists to take a larger role in helping patients. For instance, pharmacists at some drug stores are counseling patients in person or over the phone, contacting them when they fail to refill their prescriptions, and checking for possible drug interactions. Some pharmacists are also asking patients for their permission to call their doctors in order to talk with them about medicines that could potentially benefit them but that the physicians did not think to prescribe. The pharmacists then ask the doctors if they want to prescribe those medicines. Pharmacy groups and drug store chains say that they are encouraging their pharmacists to take a more active role in order to help patients keep taking their medicines, and to prevent patients from being hospitalized or taken to the emergency room in the event that they skip doses. Several studies have shown that the larger role that pharmacists are taking in the health care system has been effective at encouraging patients to continue taking their medicines. For instance, a study published in the online journal Patient Preference and Adherence found that patients who were taking statins for the first time and had participated in face-to-face counseling with a pharmacist were more likely to take their pills as prescribed than the group of patients who did not receive such counseling.