Pharmacists Need to Provide Lifestyle and Wellness Coaching

Should Pharmacists Stick to Being ‘Drug Experts’ 

Should pharmacists stick to being only the ‘drug experts’?

There are some people, including pharmacists who will answer yes to the above question. They believe that because pharmacists are the ‘medication experts’ they are only qualified to work within the boundaries of this profession.

Pharmacist’s Role Expanded Because of The COVID-19 Pandemic

The COVID-19 pandemic might have expanded the role of pharmacists but only within conventional pharmacy landscape. Pharmacists are far from “concierge” caregivers. Concierge services aren’t typically paid for by insurance companies.

Services offered by a concierge caregiver are paid for out of the patients’ pocket. Pharmacists (except those working through a collaborative agreement) can’t bill insurance for their services. The current insurer reimbursement model doesn’t even recognize pharmacists as providers.

Within the current conventional pharmacy model, how many patients do you think are willing to pay out of their own pocket for the services that pharmacists provide? I would be willing to bet that the number is close to zero!

Pharmacists are in a Unique Position

I believe that retail pharmacists are in a unique position to help their patients achieve a better quality of health. Unfortunately, the current conventional pharmacy system doesn’t allow those pharmacists to seize on that opportunity.

This current system isn’t interested in providing services that truly make a difference in patients’ health. Services like health, wellness, lifestyle, and nutrition coaching. This is because the current system is focused solely on dispensing as many medications as humanely possible.

Is it any wonder that the majority (75% according to one study) of retail pharmacists are experiencing burnout? Is it any wonder why so many community pharmacists are overworked and understaffed?

Pharmacists Can Play a Big Role 

Pharmacists can play a big role in fighting against many of the problems seen in healthcare. Problems ranging from the opioid epidemic to the chronic diseases epidemic that afflicts millions of people. The challenge is that pharmacists cannot play a role in this fight within the conventional pharmacy model.

The big chain pharmacies won’t likely include and prioritize services like health, wellness, lifestyle and nutrition coaching. So, there is no way for pharmacists to include those services among their responsibilities. The hectic work environment doesn’t permit for such services to even exist in the current pharmacy setting.

More Pharmacists Need to Become Health and Lifestyle Coaches 

This is why I believe that more pharmacists should focus their efforts on getting training in and becoming certified as lifestyle wellness coaches. If pharmacists want to have a positive impact on their patient’s health then this is the best ways to do it. 

Not only do they need to become health and lifestyle coaches, they also need to independently, through their own businesses sell and deliver those services.

This has to be the best course of action to take for a profession that is struggling to provide a fulfilling career for pharmacists. The profession of pharmacy is ripe with problems.

Problems ranging from a surplus of pharmacy schools, unfavorable work conditions, pay decreases, job cuts and an over emphasis on medications as a means of preventative medicine.

Conventional pharmacy is not preventative medicine.

These days, pharmacists are easily replaced. The big chain pharmacies can easily find pharmacists who are willing to take jobs with lesser pay and unfavorable work conditions.

Pharmacists are Key in the Fight against The Chronic Disease Epidemic

Pharmacists can help with the fight against the chronic disease epidemic. Pharmacists who are also health and wellness coaches can play an unique role in helping patients make lasting positive changes to their diet and lifestyle.

They can empower their patients by helping them shift from the conventional pharmacy model that focuses overwhelmingly on medications to a model that focuses more on wellness, nutrition, and supplements.

It’s a model concentrated on helping patients become responsible self directed advocates of health and wellness.

Pharmacists with training as health and lifestyle coaches can help patients turn the standard doctor recommendations of ‘eat better’ and ‘get more exercise’ into real actionable plans while providing support that is needed to create lasting change.

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