The nation’s community pharmacists are highly trained but underutilized healthcare resources, and their full potential as contributing members of a new, more effective health-and-wellness network won’t be realized until they’re properly paid for their services, given full access to patient medical records and inducted fully into the healthcare team.

So says a new report from B. Joseph Guglielmo in the Archives of Internal Medicine. In a lengthy commentary on the role pharmacists could play in improving chronic disease management, Guglielmo noted that pharmacists won’t be able to fully engage with a more cost-effective, outcomes-based healthcare system until fundamental changes are made to the nation’s healthcare reimbursement system and collaborative practice structure.

“A growing body of research demonstrates the valuable role of pharmacists in chronic disease management in outpatient clinic settings,” Guglielmo wrote. However, he added, “it has been … difficult to achieve the full vision of the pharmacist's role in the healthcare team in community pharmacies.

“Most community pharmacists are isolated; they lack access to medical records with important information and in which they can document their interventions for the rest of the team. Communication with other healthcare providers is intermittent and most often telephonic,” the author noted. “Critically, community pharmacies are reimbursed for drug products dispensed, not for medication therapy management provided by employee pharmacists.

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