How Pharmacists in California are Reshaping Health Care

In 2014, the state of California passed a law that classifies pharmacists as “healthcare providers,” and allows them to address certain medical needs that were once only handled by physicians. Known as the California provider status law (SB 493), the piece of legislation empowers pharmacists to provide a high level of service that, in some cases, may prevent the need for a doctor’s visit. Under the law, California pharmacists can render the following services.

Administer Drugs and Biologics
Prior to the passage of SB 493, pharmacists were limited to administering medications that were applied orally and topically. SB 493 gives pharmacists the authorization to administer drugs in additional capacities (e.g., needle injection) when a prescriber gives them permission to do so.

Provide Patients With More Information
SB 493 also permits a primary care pharmacist to provide patients with information about drug therapy, disease management, and disease prevention. In this capacity, the pharmacist serves as a valuable source of medical consultation, training, and education regarding medical issues.

Review of Patient Progress
A primary care pharmacist in California can now participate in the patient review process, and even review patient medical records when the patient and his or her physician approves it. The pharmacist works with patients’ physicians to more closely monitor patient health outcomes.

Provide CDC Travel Medications
When they travel to other nations, travelers must sometimes take medication that prevents them from succumbing to health threats that exist at the travel destination. California pharmacists are empowered to provide CDC recommended travel medications without requiring a diagnosis.

Provide Independent Immunizations
Pharmacies throughout the U.S. and beyond have provided immunizations for several decades. The significance of SB 493 for immunizations is that it allows a primary care pharmacist to independently propose and administer immunizations to patients that are at least three years old.

Order and Interpret Special Tests
Working with the patient’s primary care physician or prescriber, pharmacists can order and interpret medical tests in order to monitor the efficacy of drug therapies and their toxicity. Ordering such tests and receiving their results once required a visit to the doctor’s office.

SB 493 and the Future of Pharmacists
SB 493 expends the role of California pharmacists as healthcare providers. Although the law gives pharmacies the power to act more independently than before, its primary effect is producing improved health outcomes by allowing pharmacists and physicians to work together more closely to provide the highest level of medical care in the most expedient manner.

Although a primary care pharmacist in California will never permanently replace the need for a licensed physician, he or she can directly benefit physicians by removing the need for certain products and services to be provided in the doctor’s office. This helps give physicians the time they need to accept new patients and invest more time in the treatment of existing patients.

Moreover, by lowering the barrier to receiving crucial medical advice and treatments, SB 493 has the capacity to improve patient health outcomes, and thus reduce annual healthcare costs.

For more information about the expanded role of California pharmacists as healthcare providers, call Drug Package today at (800) 325-6137, or email us with any question you may have.

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