Commentary: As health care's unsung heroes, pharmacists deserve more recognition

G. Cameron Deemer, president of the consulting firm DrFirst, calls pharmacists the "unsung health care heroes who make essential contributions to the delivery of care." He notes that in addition to dispensing prescriptions, educating patients about medications, and explaining health plan drug coverage, pharmacists "regularly provide other...

G. Cameron Deemer, president of the consulting firm DrFirst, calls pharmacists the "unsung health care heroes who make essential contributions to the delivery of care." He notes that in addition to dispensing prescriptions, educating patients about medications, and explaining health plan drug coverage, pharmacists "regularly provide other clinical services, such as blood pressure checks, cholesterol testing, and mental health screenings. In nearly all states, they can administer flu shots and other types of vaccinations." Pharmacists are rarely compensated by payers for clinical services, even though their knowledge of medications and clinical training help relieve stress on the health care system. Deemer concludes this can make it harder for them to provide these services, and "that is why pharmacists across the country are advocating for changes at state and national levels, so they can bill for their patient care services, just as other providers do." He adds that on a national level, APhA advocates for pharmacists as providers within the Social Security Act, which would allow them to bill for certain types of care. Many states already have passed "provider status" legislation, particularly for clinical pharmacists working in inpatient settings.