In addition to expanding responsibilities, pharmacies must have the infrastructure and pharmacy staff must have adequate support.
With increased levels of burnout among pharmacists due to stress, increasing responsibilities and challenging performance metrics, pharmacies across the country are looking for ways to support staff and develop an effective pharmacy care model.
There are several root causes of the widespread burnout, which was significantly exacerbated by the COVID-19 pandemic. In addition to the heightened stress during the pandemic, continued frustration with pharmacy benefits managers, performance stats, and the pursuit of health care provider status have all contributed to increased stress levels.1
According to the American Pharmacists Association (APhA), educating patients, policy makers and even pharmacy managers about burnout is essential to develop additional resources and realistic expectations for pharmacy staff. Importantly, APhA notes that pharmacists cannot provide adequate care to patients without looking after their own well-being.1
In addition to educational efforts, improving pharmacy workflow can significantly improve burnout. Efforts such as integrating technology, for example, could give pharmacists more time to focus on patient-centered care rather than repetitive tasks.
“Examples of improvements include integrating centralized prescription processing, improving our patient mobile app, and developing automated messaging for our patients,” said Omer Gajial, executive vice president of pharmacy and health at Albertson’s Companies. Pharmacy times in an e-mail statement.
Gajial added that Albertson’s has also introduced a scheduling tool during the pandemic, which allows patients to schedule appointments for COVID-19 vaccines and booster shots, as well as other routine immunizations. Implementing such solutions can be of particular importance as pharmacists take on significantly more responsibilities and progress towards healthcare provider status.
Fully deploying technicians is also vital in the busy, stressful pharmacy environment. At Albertson’s pharmacies, Gajial said technicians can fill a variety of roles to give pharmacists more time to focus on direct patient care.
“Our pharmacy technicians are on the front lines of community health care,” said Gajial. “Not only do they focus on regulatory compliance, but with the right training, our technicians are able to perform immunizations and help pharmacists prepare for clinical consultation services and provide point-of-care testing in various states. They are invaluable to our patients and also allow our pharmacists to spend more time caring for patients.”
High levels of burnout have also led to staffing problems at some pharmacies. To address this concern, Gajial said Albertson’s pharmacies have recruited additional recruiters, developed local partnerships and are offering signing incentives.
“We’ve reviewed the tools and systems our primary care teams use every day and are looking for ways to streamline workflow so our pharmacy teams can do what they do best: provide quality patient care,” said Gajial.
Going forward, the pharmacy care model will continue to evolve to provide comprehensive care with a more holistic view of patients. Gajial said the goal of Albertson’s pharmacies is to provide patient-centered, integrated care with an emphasis on accessibility for patients.
Pharmacists will also continue to expand services, including vaccinations, consultations, point-of-care testing, prescribing, mental health and substance abuse services, and veterinary care. However, in addition to this expansion, pharmacies must have the infrastructure and the pharmacy staff have sufficient support to provide this care.
“In the long term, we will expand these healthcare services, introduce new convenient solutions and continue to invest in innovative solutions to help our customers manage their health more effectively,” said Gajial.
- APhA: Burnout in pharmacist reaches breaking point and has implications for patient safety. news item. American Pharmacists Association. December 17, 2021. Accessed July 20, 2022. https://pharmacist.com/APhA-Press-Releases/apha-pharmacist-burnout-hits-breaking-point-impacting-patient-safety