October is American Pharmacists Month, and to celebrate pharmacists' contribution to the nation's health, we're outlining the ways pharmacists are helping achieve the goals of the Triple Aim.
As defined by the Institute for Healthcare Improvement, the Triple Aim is:
- Improving the patient experience of care (including quality and satisfaction)
- Improving the health of populations
- Reducing the per capita cost of health care
Pharmacists are the licensed health care professionals that have the most regular contact with people as they fill their prescriptions in between physician office visits or trips to the hospital. This gives pharmacists a unique opportunity and responsibility to influence the health status of millions of people on a daily basis.
Expanding Access to Critical Pharmacy-Related Services
One way pharmacists are improving the quality of care is by launching pharmacy-related services not historically available in their market. Without local access to those critical services, patients must travel to another city to receive them or forgo them altogether. Either option could lead to deteriorating health status. Home infusion therapy services and supplies and specialty pharmaceuticals are examples of services pharmacists are delivering to underserved markets.
You can learn more about how pharmacists are meeting their communities' unmet patient care needs by reading “Four Lessons from Pharmacy Innovators.”
Promoting the Appropriate Use of Antibiotics
Pharmacists can help reduce the cost of care by eliminating the need to spend money on care that fixes problems that could have been prevented. One of those problems is the growing threat from antibiotic-resistant bacteria. According to new patient safety guidance from the CDC, antibiotic-resistant bacteria cause more than 2 million illnesses each year and kill nearly 23,000 people annually. Pharmacists are aiding the fight against antibiotic-resistant bacteria by coordinating antibiotic stewardship programs with their local health care facilities.
You can learn more about pharmacist-driven antibiotic stewardship programs by reading “Improving Patient Health and Your Bottom Line.”
Implementing Solutions to Improve Medication Adherence
Study after study has shown that medication adherence – taking prescribed medications, taking the right medications and taking them the right way – improves patients' health status and lowers overall health care spending. In a recent report, Express Scripts estimated that medication nonadherence adds more than $300 billion to the nation's health care tab each year to pay for avoidable medical complications. Pharmacists are at the forefront of executing solutions to improve adherence, including medication therapy management, medication synchronization and e-prescribing.
You can learn more about the strategies pharmacists are using by reading “E-Prescribing Enables Pharmacists to Improve Medication Adherence.”
Focusing on Service Drives Increased Patient Satisfaction
Pharmacists also are taking direct aim at the patient experience by improving customer satisfaction with pharmacy services. It's about improving and expanding services to make it easier for patients to adhere to medication regimens, whether that's 24/7 pharmacy hours, opening a drive-up pharmacy window or launching a traveling vaccine program. It's also about adding value to each customer encounter by engaging patients and working with them to improve their health status, whether it's explaining health insurance benefits, performing medication reconciliation or coordinating their care with other providers via electronic exchange of patient data.
You can learn more about how pharmacists are enhancing the patient experience by reading “Health Care Value Is Changing.”
Meeting the objectives of the Triple Aim will take an aggressive, committed and coordinated attack by each and every stakeholder along the health care delivery chain. Pharmacists are one of the strongest links in that chain. Achieving the goals of the Triple Aim would be impossible without their contribution.