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Provider Status for Pharmacists: Call to Action or Distant Dream?

By: Samantha Schmidt, PharmD Candidate c/o 2014, Palm Beach Atlantic University

The role of pharmacists in healthcare has grown exponentially over the years. Pharmacists now provide advanced patient-centered care services including coordination of medications during transitions of care, comprehensive medication reviews with medication monitoring, chronic disease management, disease education, prevention and wellness services, and patient education. Unfortunately, pharmacists are not listed as healthcare providers in the non-physician section of the Social Security Act, which deprives them of compensation for comprehensive patient-centered care under Medicare Part B.1 This omission impedes the integration of pharmacists into innovative healthcare delivery models like patient-centered medical homes (PCMH) and accountable care organizations (ACO), both of which are being brought forth by the Affordable Care Act (ACA).1

Proper medication use is essential to improve quality of life and to ensure that health outcomes are achieved in a cost-effective manner. In the United States, more than 1.5 million preventable medication-related adverse events occur every year.2 It costs Medicare, whose enrollees are people aged 65 and older, $887 million every year to treat preventable medication errors.2 Pharmacists have extensive education and training in the use of medications for the treatment, management, and prevention of disease and can be an essential part of the healthcare team.3 One simple tactic to improve patient outcomes and decrease costs is for pharmacists, working with physicians, to have a greater role in managing patients’ medications.3

Recently, Governor Jerry Brown of California signed a bill (SB 493) that establishes Advanced Practice Pharmacists (APP), giving new authorities to licensed pharmacists.1 SB 493 will allow APPs to perform patient assessments, order and interpret drug therapy, refer patients to other healthcare providers, and initiate, adjust, and discontinue drug therapy (according to established protocols with physicians).1 Although this bill does not address compensation, it is a major step toward provider status recognition for pharmacists.1 The American Pharmacists Association, along with other professional pharmacy organizations, needs each and every pharmacist and pharmacy student to take an active role in making this change. The time to act is now.

Please visit: http://www.pharmacist.com/providerstatusrecognition


  1. American Pharmacists Association. Provider status: what pharmacists need to know now. Available at: http://www.pharmacist.com/provider-status-what-pharmacists-need-know-now. Updated September 2013. Accessed October 21, 2013.
  2. Institute of Medicine. Report brief: preventing medication errors. Available at: http://www.iom.edu/~/media/Files/Report%20Files/2006/Preventing-Medication-Errors-Quality-Chasm-Series/medicationerrorsnew.pdf. Updated July 2006. Accessed on October 21, 2013.
  3. Chisholm-Burns MA, Kim Lee J, Spivey CA, et al. US pharmacists’ effect as team members on patient care: systematic review and meta-analyses. Med Care. 2010;48:923–33.
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