LOS ANGELES — A University of Southern California pilot currently underway at several clinics belonging to nonprofit clinic AltaMed is illustrating the important role that pharmacists can play in improving patient outcomes and easing the burden of the nation’s shortage of primary care physicians, according to a Los Angeles Times article.
The initiative, run by USC clinical pharmacy professor Steven Chen, is currently running at 10 clinics belonging to AltaMed, which serves largely low-income populations in Los Angeles and Orange counties, according to the article.
With team-based medical care as a central feature of the Affordable Care Act, the pilot is proving effective as, according to the article, the clinical pharmacists in the USC program are finding, on average, 10 drug-related problems per patient and are also acting much like a medical counselor.
The clinical pharmacists are paired with patients suffering from chronic illnesses and they typically see their patients once a month. Plus, each visits is typically longer — lasting up to an hour.
According to the LA Times report, early data from the pilot shows that clinical pharmacists can help lower overall healthcare costs by reducing hospitalizations and other costly medical treatments. This is critical as today’s payment models under the Affordable Care Act are shifting to penalize providers if patients do not stay healthy.