The Future of Pharmacy: Clinical Practices with a Remote Pharmacist

Aspen RxHealth Consultant Laura Cranston discusses the path being blazed by remote pharmacists around the nation.

By Laura Cranston, CEO Emeritus of Pharmacy Quality Alliance (PQA), and consultant to Aspen RxHealth

remote healthcare worker burnout

The crisis of healthcare worker burnout

If you’ve visited a physician’s office, pharmacy, or hospital in the last few years, you’ve undoubtedly observed the effects of physician, pharmacist, and nurse burnout. The last three years have put an exponential amount of pressure on our healthcare infrastructure – more than the inundating migration towards interoperability or path toward value-based care. As consumers, we are all bearing witness to the cracks that healthcare leadership has been aware of for decades. One of these cracks is in the very foundation of healthcare in our communities—clinical pharmacists.

What is healthcare worker burnout?

In the simplest sense, burnout results from packed work days, high-pressure situations, and a demanding schedule. While burnout is present in all industries, It’s easy to see how it can disproportionately impact healthcare providers and clinicians across the sector, and pharmacists are no exception.

The impact of burnout on patients and providers

Burnout is a very real problem facing our healthcare ecosystem. In fact, a 2021 study found that 20% of physicians and 40% of nurses intended to leave their current practice within two years. Healthcare providers are beginning to crack under the pressure they’ve been subjected to over the last several years.

Burnout is not only unpleasant for clinicians but has the potential for dangerous impacts on patients. When clinicians are burnt out, they tend to focus only on the bare necessities of their duties, often missing more intricate details that can make all the difference to a patient’s health outcomes.

As pharmacists were called upon in droves to test, treat, and triage throughout the pandemic, they are working longer hours and stepping up to manage staffing shortages. The word “burnout” is real and is being experienced at higher levels than it’s ever been. An online movement, #PizzaIsNotWorking, has gained steam as a show of defiance to the trend of providing pizza parties or other similar ‘incentives’ to alleviate the stresses of work—it simply isn’t enough.

employee burnout

How remote pharmacists fill critical healthcare gaps

Clinical Pharmacists have long been one of the most trusted healthcare professionals with the highest level of education as it relates to medication optimization and management of the most complex medication regimens. Across the United States, many people live in areas too rural to access a primary care physician, but they may have access to a local community pharmacy or at the minimum, access to a telephone for virtual care. 

How remote pharmacy services decrease healthcare worker burnout

However, there’s a shining light for pharmacists who intend to use their clinical expertise gained through their extensive education and experience to deliver care directly to patients—all with the flexibility of working remotely. I’m often told that this sounds too good to be true, but I assure you it isn’t. After transitioning out of my position as Founder and CEO of PQA, I was eager to join the Aspen RxHealth team because I firmly believe in their mission. The company is pharmacist-founded, pharmacist-grounded, and patient-centric. Aspen RxHealth is revolutionizing the industry with the creation and deployment of a tech-enabled platform that connects pharmacists and patients virtually. The environment we’ve created allows clinical pharmacists to act as true providers— delivering high-quality consultative care and curating a panel of patients whose medication regimens they routinely review and manage.

How Aspen RxHealth is changing clinical pharmacy with remote pharmacist roles

In this radical new frontier for the pharmacy profession, Aspen RxHealth provides the environment and resources to this bustling community which hovers at over 7,000 pharmacists today, providing them with the tools needed to own and manage their clinical practice and deepen their motivational interviewing skills.  Another area of focus as this pharmacist community grows is Aspen RxHealth’s education around building the necessary infrastructure so that pharmacists can understand how to operate as independent contractors. Finally, pharmacists are moving beyond dispensing and caring for patients in an impactful way.

Aspen RxHealth clinical pharmacists are consistently reporting higher levels of personal and professional satisfaction than their counterparts. Patients are satisfied too – shown by the 4.8 out of 5 star rating they give Aspen RxHealth pharmacists after a consultation. With a robust incentive structure for top-performing pharmacists (rated by quality and consultation volume), their clinical practices are becoming much healthier, too.

I feel energized and privileged by the opportunity to play a strategic consultative role to the Aspen RxHealth team and work with our exceptional community of pharmacists as we explore potential strategic partnerships. The most exciting thing is that we’re just getting started. The future is calling. How will you answer?