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Pharmacists do more than process medication refills and prior authorizations. Amid primary care provider shortages, provider burnout and the shift to value-based care, today’s pharmacists are ready for a much more active role on care teams than ever before.

Pioneers are the first to go somewhere new.

“The first e-prescriptions to cross our network were in 2003,” says Ken Whittemore Jr., Vice President of Pharmacy and Regulatory Affairs at Surescripts. “But interestingly, only half of the states even allowed e-prescribing at that time.”

By 2007, owing to the efforts of Surescripts and other industry stakeholders, e-prescribing was legal in all 50 states, and by 2015, so was electronic prescribing for controlled substances (EPCS).

Now we facilitate the transmission of billions of e-prescriptions—2.12 billion in 2021 alone. Pharmacies adopted e-prescribing faster than prescribers, and today, virtually every pharmacy in the nation handles prescriptions electronically.

All thanks to pioneering pharmacists like Whittemore.

Healthcare needs alternative care models

Pharmacists are critical to patient care, and ever more so in our beleaguered healthcare system.

Today’s care team is evolving with pharmacists to tackle these challenges.

As clinicians, highly trained pharmacists are filling gaps in care

“Pharmacists coming out of school today are so highly trained,” Whittemore says. “It's a waste of resources not to take advantage of that.” With COVID-19, for example, pharmacists embraced new opportunities to care for patients, taking on testing and prescribing Paxlovid for treatment of the condition.

Three factors support today’s evolution of pharmacists as care providers:

  • New policy: Policy is evolving to support pharmacists in delivering more clinical care, such as adjusting dosage or initiating specific therapies.
  • Location, location, location: Nine in ten Americans conveniently live within five miles of a pharmacy.
  • Increasingly trusted: In one survey, 63% of physicians and nurse practitioners agreed that pharmacists will play a larger role in primary care by 2030.

It’s all about working as one care team for the patient’s benefit. And we’re keeping pace by simplifying workflows, building innovations and forging partnerships.

Pharmacists are using technology to improve patient care nationwide

If we get sick and need a prescription, we can see the doctor in the morning and have medication in our hands that same afternoon. Not long ago, this was just an abstract idea, but when Surescripts was founded in 2001, pharmacists saw the opportunity and signed on as a partner to revolutionize how prescriptions were received and dispensed.

Today, pharmacists continue to pioneer change.

They’re using Real-Time Prescription Benefit, for example, to access real-time, patient-specific insights straight from the patient’s benefit plan. This enables pharmacists to address cost concerns, avoid unnecessary prior authorizations and coordinate prescription changes—all within the pharmacy management system.

“Any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic,” said the science fiction writer Arthur C. Clarke. Today we’re hard-pressed to see it that way. We often take technology—and its benefits—for granted.

Pioneering pharmacists’ embrace of technology is a great reminder that it is magic.

Go deeper: See how pharmacists are using technology to do much, much more than push paper and fill prescription bottles.

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