Expanding pharmacists’ roles: Pharmacists’ perspectives on barriers and facilitators to collaborative practice

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Journal of the American Pharmacists Association


Objective: The pharmacy profession is shifting from transactional dispensing of medication to a more comprehensive, patient-centered model of care. Collaborative practice agreements (CPAs) extend the role of a pharmacist to initiate, monitor, modify, and discontinue drug therapies and provide other clinical services. Although collaborative practice has been shown to improve health system efficiency and patient outcomes, little is known about how pharmacists perceive CPAs. To explore pharmacists’ perspectives of CPAs, including barriers and facilitators to CPA implementation. Methods: Semistructured key informant interviews were used to elicit information from licensed pharmacists practicing in a variety of settings in Arizona. Thematic analysis was used to identify key qualitative themes. Results: Seventeen interviews of pharmacists with (n = 11, 64.7%) and without (n = 6, 35.3%) CPAs were conducted in April-May 2019. The pharmacists saw their role in CPAs as supportive, filling a care gap for overburdened providers. A heightened sense of job satisfaction was reported owing to increased pharmacist autonomy, application of advanced knowledge and clinical skills, and ability to have a positive impact on patients’ health. Challenges to the implementation of CPAs included liability and billing issues, logistic concerns, some experiences with provider hesitancy, and lack of information and resources to establish and maintain a CPA. The barriers could be overcome with conscious team-building efforts to establish trust and prove the worth of pharmacists in health care teams; strategic engagement of stakeholders in the development of CPAs, including billing and legal departments; and mentorship in the CPA creation process. Conclusions: The pharmacists in this study enjoyed practicing collaboratively and had overall positive perceptions of CPAs. As health worker shortages become more dire and pharmacy practice evolves to expand the role of pharmacists in providing direct patient care, CPAs will be an important tool for restructuring care tasks within health systems.

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