Columbus, OH— As our team prepares for the release of our 2019 Trend Reports in the coming weeks, I’ve had the opportunity to reflect on several of the highlights from our 2018 Reports that garnered extra attention and sparked the most ideas with our clients. Teaming Up Pharmacist + Physician from our Healthcare Trends emerged as a perennial favorite of both US and global colleagues. In a nutshell, the trend noted:

Healthcare is betting big that the partnership between pharmacists and physicians can change behavior and deliver bottom-line impact.

From integration at the point of care to interconnected metrics, new collaborations between this duo are creating systems that focus on uncovering preventative possibilities and supporting ongoing adherence.

Since we wrote that copy nearly a year ago, the trend has continued to evolve—as evidenced by health economics studies and consumer periodicals alike. Just last week, Consumer Reports published an article titled “How Your Pharmacist Can Make You Healthier” that outlined 4 steps consumers can take to realize the health and economic benefits pharmacists offer. After demonstrating how choosing the right pharmacy impacts cost, convenience and customer service, the author highlights the value an annual medication review can offer patients who regularly take multiple medications. She specifically notes a 2017 study in the Journal of Managed Care & Specialty Pharmacy that validates the promise of clinical pharmacy interventions for high-risk medications in the elderly. 

Additionally, last week the Pharmacist Times published an article titled “Medication Nonadherence in Older Adults: Patient Engagement Solutions and Pharmacist Impact” that noted:

As one of the most accessible health care providers and medication experts, pharmacists can optimize a patient’s medication regimen in order to minimize polypharmacy and associated adverse drug reactions. Through medication therapy management (MTM), pharmacists can identify duplicate or unnecessary therapies. They can also identify drug-drug interactions and potential side effects, and advise patients on how to alleviate them. MTM provided by pharmacists significantly improves health outcomes, as shown in the recent STOMPP study of diabetes patients receiving MTM where A1C goals were achieved.

Finally, the impact of pharmacists is changing across the globe—last month’s edition of the British Journal of General Practice included the results of a study in Scotland where GPs were able to hand some prescribing activities off to specialist clinical pharmacists. The results were notable:  the time the physicians spent on prescribing activities was cut in half, the clinical pharmacists were well received by physicians and their staff, and the pharmacists even identified improvements in patient safety. And here’s the icing on the cake in the day and age of healthcare professional burnout: results showed “positive effects on staff morale and reductions in stress.”

Why This Matters—

Often healthcare sales and marketing efforts focus on reaching 3 Ps—physicians, patients, and payers. But the ever-expanding responsibilities of pharmacists, combined with such promising results from their engagement stand as a compelling cry to include them as a fourth P. But effectively engaging pharmacists will require more than simply repurposing existing materials for communications—instead marketers should partner with them as key healthcare stakeholders to understand their unique needs, desires and ambitions. In the coming year, we’ll be sure to keep an eye out for the next generation of content aimed squarely at them.

About the Author:

Drew Beck has spent his entire career in healthcare — from direct patient care as an EMT in college to countless roles in pharma sales and global marketing for leading life science companies including Eli Lilly & Co. and GlaxoSmithKline. He is currently a leader on the Syneos Health Insights & Innovation team, a group charged with leveraging deep expertise in virtual collaboration, behavioral science, trends-based-innovation, custom research and global marketing insights.