Pharmacists Can Improve Patient Outcomes

Release Date: February 28, 2013 | By Stephanie Stephens, HBNS Contributing Writer
Research Source: The Cochrane Library


  • Studies performed in middle income countries worldwide found that pharmacists who provide patient-centered counseling along with dispensing medication can help patient outcomes.
  • Pharmacist-led counseling provided to patients in middle-income countries led to small improvements in blood pressure, glucose levels and asthma symptoms.
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In addition to dispensing, packaging or compounding medication, pharmacists can help improve patient outcomes in middle-income countries by offering targeted education, according to a new review in The Cochrane Library.

The World Bank defines middle-income countries as having a gross national income (GNI) that ranges from a high of $12,475 to $1,025 per capita.  Examples of middle-income countries include Egypt, South Africa, Chile and India.

The review found that pharmacists that provide educational counseling can produce minor improvements in patients’ blood pressure, cholesterol, and glucose levels and relief of asthma symptoms when compared to usual care. Overall, the studies supported the roles of pharmacists in improving the patient outcomes and health service utilization as well as delivering patient counseling and care regarding drug therapy and disease management.

“When pharmacists carry out medication therapy management, they can play a much greater role not only in the pharmacy, but in the community and the hospital as they work with the public and other health care officials,” said lead study author Sami Pande of The University of Adelaide in Australia. 

Medication management services differ from medication dispensing by focusing on patient-centered—rather than product-centered care, Pande added. Medication management also includes an assessment of the patient’s complete drug regimen, instead of just focusing on a single prescription.

The World Health Organization recognizes the importance of medication management in public health and has been actively promoting good pharmacy practice worldwide. However, pharmacists’ services remain under-utilized in low- and middle-income countries, noted the review authors.

“The role of the pharmacist is evolving both in the United States and worldwide,” said R. Pete Vanderveen, Ph.D., R. Ph. and dean of the University of Southern California School of Pharmacy. “In the United States, we’ve collected data for decades and have consistently shown that when pharmacists are involved outcomes improve and money is saved. This paper shows the importance of conducting similar research in countries around the globe to advance the role of the pharmacist, enhance pharmacy education and improve the health of patients.”

In the current and ever-changing health care environment, pharmacists are expected to do more and they can, Pande says. “They have the ability to improve the health status of both patients and entire communities.”

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The Cochrane Library ( contains high quality health care information, including systematic reviews from The Cochrane Collaboration. These reviews bring together research on the effects of health care and are considered the gold standard for determining the relative effectiveness of different interventions.

Pande S, Hiller JE, Nkansah N, Bero L. The effect of pharmacist-provided non-dispensing services on patient outcomes, health service utilisation and costs in low- and middle-income countries. Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews 2013, Issue 2. Art.No.:CD010398. DOI: 10.1002/14651858.CD010398

Tags for this article:
Medical/Hospital Practice   Patient Engagement   Health Care Access   Find Good Health Care   Communicate with your Doctors   Inside Healthcare   Prescription Drugs  

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