ACC Councils Evaluate the Role of Clinical Pharmacists on the CV Care Team

Clinical pharmacists play an important role for patients on the cardiovascular care team, according to a joint Council Perspective from the Cardiovascular Team Section and Prevention of Cardiovascular Disease Section published Nov. 2 in the Journal of the American College of Cardiology.

In the joint perspective paper, the authors discuss the role of the clinical pharmacist, including training and certifications. Following an associate’s or bachelor’s degree, pharmacist candidates complete three years of didactic coursework and a fourth year of experimental education, culminating in a Doctor of Pharmacy degree (PharmD). Further coursework can be done through a post-graduate year-1 residency program to gain competencies in patient-centered care and pharmacy operational services. A post-graduate year-2 pharmacy residency provides more specialized clinical training in areas such as cardiovascular care.

As a result of advanced training, clinical pharmacists have been associated with decreased costs of care, hospital mortality, drug costs, length of stay and medication error rates. Including pharmacists on cardiovascular care teams also improves medication adherence in at-risk patients, through direct consultation or education-related activities.

While the addition of clinical pharmacists to the cardiovascular care team benefits patient outcomes, the authors note that pharmacist services are limited by scope of practice acts, state boards of pharmacy, medicine regulations and compensation barriers. Further, pharmacists are not currently recognized as providers by the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, making them ineligible for payment under Medicare Part B. 

The authors conclude that moving forward, “multidisciplinary organizations … should support efforts to overcome legislative and compensation barriers so that pharmacists may be included in health care delivery models that allow full use of their education and training to provide high-quality patient care.”

Keywords: Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, U.S., Medicaid, Medicare, Medicare Part B, Medication Adherence, Medication Errors, Patient Care, Patient-Centered Care, Pharmaceutical Services, Pharmacists, Pharmacy Residencies

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