Community pharmacy stands at a crossroads. Buffeted by rapid technological change, a new era of patient-centered care, the decentralization of clinical care and disease management, and the diminishing returns of an increasingly commodity-oriented prescription dispensing business, the industry must adapt to the new era in what could be a painful and wrenching transition.
Pharmacy operators and the pharmacists they employ have a choice. They can either work to assert their larger role as fully engaged members of an increasingly integrated patient care delivery network, or risk becoming marginalized by staying tied to their traditional role as time-pressed dispensers of medicines.
Therein lies both risk and reward. Drug dispensing and basic patient counseling will likely remain a crucial and indispensable element of community pharmacy practice for decades to come. But the industry’s future is closely tied to a fundamental transformation of both the business and profession of pharmacy and the wider—and deeply troubled—U.S. health care system as a whole.
For pharmacy operators, the coming shift to a new, integrated model of health care, driven by information technology and electronic patient records, will provide a platform for the delivery of a broader and more effective range of pharmacy-care services. The transformation opens up major opportunities to secure pharmacy’s place in the future of health care.
In this section of the annual report on pharmacy, we look at three of those opportunities: the electronic health/information technology revolution, the search for a successful model for Medication Therapy Management, and the growing campaign to improve patient drug therapy compliance.