New CDC guide links pharmacists and physicians as partners to improve health

Guide serves as a resource to facilitate partnership

As community pharmacists continue to provide patient care services, partnerships become that much more essential. One of these necessary partnerships is the one between pharmacists and physicians in caring for patients with chronic disease.

In this context, CDC’s Division for Heart Disease and Stroke Prevention, in collaboration with APhA and the American Medical Association, published a guide on establishing “linkages” between community pharmacists and physicians.

“This document is an important resource for pharmacists, physicians, and other community resources to share their knowledge and identify ways to collaborate to improve population health,” said Stacia Spridgen, PharmD, LTC (ret), USA, director of the APhA Federal Pharmacy Program.

Pharmacists are key to this effort, and their “education and training fully prepare them for participation in and contribution to team-based care, disease management, and the provision of wellness services,” stated the report, Creating Community-Clinical Linkages Between Community Pharmacists and Physicians: A Pharmacy Guide.

The guide begins with examples of existing community-clinical linkages—which refer to the connections between community, health care providers, and settings where primary care is provided to improve population health. It cites the Asheville Project as a successful example of a pharmacist-directed medication therapy management (MTM) program. The guide focuses on both MTM and collaborative drug therapy management (CDTM) as examples of collaborative care models involving pharmacists and physicians.

The guide also provides a framework for how community pharmacists and physicians can begin to approach the development of what CDC calls the LINKAGE Framework:

-Learn about the community and clinical sectors.

-Identify and engage key stakeholders from the community and clinical sectors.

-Negotiate and agree upon goals and objectives of the linkage.

-Know which operational structure to implement.

-Aim to coordinate and manage the linkage.

-Grow the linkage with sustainability in mind.

-Evaluate the linkage.

Within each of these steps are specific action items not only for pharmacists, but also for physicians.

“The guide was developed to provide a framework for creating linkages between community pharmacists and physicians to benefit the community and the patients they serve,” said Julia Jordan, MPH, CHES, from CDC’s Division for Heart Disease and Stroke Prevention. “Pharmacists can use the framework, as well as the examples, to think about how to approach the development of these linkages.”

The guide also discusses common barriers to and potential solutions for creating community-clinical linkages between community pharmacists and physicians, particularly the reimbursement mechanism for pharmacists.

A link for pharmacists to download the guide can be found here: