Making Pharmacists Part of the Primary Care Team

In a Health Affairs analysis, a UConn professor makes the case for increasing the role of pharmacists in providing front-line care.

Pharmacist (Shutterstock)

Marie Smith, head of the pharmacy practice department.
Marie Smith, assistant dean of the UConn School of Pharmacy.

As the Affordable Care Act kicks into gear, it’s estimated that 30 million newly insured people will be adding to the demands of our current primary care workforce. While general practitioners, nurses and physician assistants are considered the main primary care providers, a UConn professor says pharmacists can help fortify the front line.

In an analysis and commentary published in November’s issue of Health Affairs, School of Pharmacy assistant dean Marie Smith writes that pharmacists “can contribute to the efficient and effective delivery of care. Thus, they should be included among the health professionals who are called on to mitigate the projected primary care provider shortage.”

Smith, along with co-authors David Bates of Brigham and Women’s Hospital and Thomas Bodenheimer with the University of California, San Francisco, state that the “proliferation of such new models as medical homes, accountable care organizations, and community-based care teams is creating new opportunities for pharmacists to assume roles and responsibilities commensurate with their capabilities.”

The authors also discuss the potential challenges of the team-based care delivery models which include the lack of payment mechanisms that explicitly provide for pharmacist services.

You can read the entire Health Affairs analysis and commentary here.

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