This week, Alabama Governor Kay Ivey signed the House Bill 35 (H.B. 35) act and authorized a pharmacist licensed by the Board of Pharmacy and a medical officer licensed by the State Board of Medical Examiners to reach an agreement on a community practice. These agreements create formal relationships that allow pharmacists to extend patient care functions. Improving access to health care has been one of the most important benefits for patients. All of these patients continued to see their doctor and saw a pharmacist every one to three months because they better control their health conditions. The researchers concluded that this enhanced follow-up with a health care provider made a difference when patients gained greater control over their health. While CPA pharmacists are opening doors that offer new opportunities, patients are also seeing the benefits of collaborative teams. In particular, patients with high blood pressure and diabetes mellitus were studied in two studies. All patients in the integrated pharmacist teams achieved statistically significant improvements in clinical parameters in terms of their level of control. For example, patients with an initial blood pressure of 149/84 mm Hg achieved an average blood pressure decrease of 17/9 mm (132/75) after nine months. A study that evaluated chronically uncontrolled diabetics with an average underlying of 9.3 percent reached an A1C of 8.18 percent after one year and an A1C of 8.06 percent at the end of the study. By comparison, patients in the control group without pharmacist management achieved an A1C of 8.69% after the first year, but reached only an A1C of 8.67% at the end of the study.
Finally, doctors were able to save time with their workload, while working alongside pharmacists through CPAs. Effective treatment of populations of patients with hypertension, diabetes mellitus and other chronic diseases requires considerable time that is generally lacking for physicians due to their heavy daily workload. Once an agreement has been reached on the care plan, the doctor can diagnose more patients. During this period, the pharmacist stays with the previous patient to answer all remaining questions, to ensure the education of the state of illness and to provide medication advice. “I am pleased that H.B 35 has been signed by Governor Ivey,” said Michael Crouch, Dean of the McWhorter School of Pharmacy. “Alabama pharmacists, by working together, are bridging the gap between physician shortages in the state, and this law is an important step toward pharmacists who provide care through a wide range of practices.” The pharmacy is in a position of choice to assume this responsibility. Beyond a donation role, pharmacists can work with physicians to ensure that patients receive exceptional care through collaborative Drug Therapy Management (CDTM). Samford University`s McWhorter School of Pharmacy has long championed a bill in the state that approves collaborative practice agreements between pharmacists and physicians.