Pharmacists are healthcare professionals. They play an integral role in a patient’s health journey by dispensing medications and keeping close contact with physicians.
However, a pharmacist’s ability to provide healthcare can only go so far. In the legal sense, pharmacists across the country are pushing to receive the title of healthcare provider.
The argument of whether there should be provider status for pharmacists has been going on for years and even decades.
PioneerRx surveyed pharmacy professionals to find out if pharmacists should get provider status. Read on to learn more about medical providers and where pharmacists fit into the equation.
The University of California at Berkley defines a healthcare provider as “a doctor of medicine or osteopathy, podiatrist, dentist, chiropractor, clinical psychologist, optometrist, nurse practitioner, nurse-midwife, or a clinical social worker who is authorized to practice by the State and performing within the scope of their practice as defined by State law…”
By definition, pharmacists perform all of the same duties as healthcare providers. However, they do not have a nationwide legal designation.
Provider status for pharmacists is currently a state-by-state matter.
The argument has shifted favorably towards provider status for pharmacists with their invaluable role in the administration of the COVID-19 vaccine.
As of November 2022, 291.5 million doses of the vaccine have been administered under the Federal Retail Pharmacy Program, according to the CDC.
21 retail pharmacy partners participate in the program, with more than 41,000 locations worldwide.
As previously mentioned, provider status for pharmacists remains a hot topic issue in the medical and legislative community.
PioneerRx surveyed pharmacy professionals about whether all pharmacists should receive provider status. Here’s what they had to say:
Nearly all respondents consider themselves to be healthcare providers. It is unknown if the respondents were pharmacists, pharmacy technicians, or clerks.
A little more than half of the survey respondents feel that their patients do not entirely see them as healthcare professionals.
Almost ¾ of survey respondents are not certain that other providers support provider status for pharmacists. The pharmacist-physician dynamic likely applies to this.
Though it plays an essential role in a patient’s health journey, the pharmacist-physician relationship sometimes consists of “professional one-upmanship, disagreements over best methods of care, and miscommunication.”
While it is unclear why the majority of survey respondents answered either “somewhat” or “no,” the pharmacist-physician dynamic may have played a role.
Pharmacists feel equipped to provide many of the same services that other providers do.
All respondents felt equipped to provide immunizations and patient counseling. Most felt equipped to prescribe, provide point-of-care testing, and offer MTM services.
30% felt equipped to provide additional services, including wellness programs, chronic care management, and antibiotic therapy.
More than 80% of surveyed respondents are at least somewhat confident that there will be provider status for pharmacists — and for good reason: the prospect of pharmacists receiving provider status nationwide is brighter than ever.
Pharmacy communities such as ASHP are working to support the passage of legislation that would give grant provider status for pharmacists under Medicare Part B law and for underserved communities.
The Pharmacy and Medically Underserved Enhancement Act is one such piece of legislation. The Act would allow pharmacists to provide services ranging from infectious disease testing to comprehensive medication management services in a health-professional shortage area.
It would also ensure that pharmacists be properly compensated for their services.
At the time of writing, the Act has been introduced to the U.S. House but has yet to pass.
Our survey results show that pharmacists are closer than ever to receiving provider status nationwide.
Though health crises such as the COVID-19 pandemic have shown how indispensable pharmacists are, they are largely unable to provide the proper scope of care while also being properly compensated.
While general opinion favors pharmacists, legislation needs to be passed for pharmacists to receive the title of “healthcare provider.”