Pharmacists have long been an afterthought for busy brand managers that already have their hands full trying to reach physicians, NPs and PAs. However, with patient education and support services designed to goose outcomes and adherence increasingly central to brand strategy, this audience may deserve a closer look. We've just completed our Taking the Pulse® Pharmacists 2015 study. Here's some of what we learned:

  • Pharmacists are doing a lot more than dispensing drugs these days. As the ACA has brought millions of previously-uninsured Americans into the healthcare system, responsibility for provision of primary care services has been redistributed down the professional ladder, with NPs, PAs, RNs and increasingly pharmacists stepping up to absorb increased demand. Our Taking the Pulse® Pharmacists 2015 study found that 58% of retail pharmacists diagnose and treat minor injuries, while 62% of specialty pharmacists offer preventive care services. And pharmacies are following the incentives for value-driven care by expanding their menu of offerings to include wellness and condition management programs as well as vaccinations and refill reminders. Half of retail pharmacists and one-third of specialty pharmacists said that they are reimbursed for patient conversations or services such as medication management and adherence counseling.
  • This makes pharmacists potentially key players in provision of patient education. Indeed, more than half of pharmacists, whether retail, hospital or specialty, told us that the time they’ve spent on patient education has increased compared to one year ago. Many are also spending more time helping patients navigate the complexities of drug costs and coverage – three in five hospital pharmacists said they spend more time on financial assistance, as did nearly half of specialty pharmacists and more than half of retail pharmacists.
  • Accordingly, there's strong interest in patient education, assistance and support services from pharma among pharmacists. Around three in five across all segments say they are interested in pharma-sponsored patient education, while two-thirds of retail and specialty pharmacists express interest in using pharma-sponsored patient support resources that help with adherence and outcomes. Perceived effectiveness of pharma support programs on adherence is strong among pharmacists of all stripes.

Pharmas are investing heavily in next-generation patient resources right now. To make the most of those investments, brands should be sure not to overlook non-physician HCPs, including pharmacists, responsible for much of the provision of patient education and support -- especially given their role in therapeutic substitution (AKA the big leak in pharma's bucket). I'll talk about our findings from Taking the Pulse® Pharmacists 2015 regarding medication switches in a future post.

For more data and insights into how pharma can better engage this critical audience around provision of patient resources, contact

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