The Critical Functions of a Long-Term Care Pharmacist

Long-term care looks different in different settings.

Most people, when they think of a long-term care facility, think of an assisted living home or something similar. And that would be common and true.

However, long-term care is also extended to skilled nursing facilities, community integrated living arrangements (CILA), hospice, youth homes, correctional facilities and facilities that specialize in the treatment of specific ailments such as HIV, MS or ALS. 

Regardless of the facility, pharmacists provide a number of functions for organizations offering long-term care. While the patient populations, and the complexities of their needs, may vary from facility to facility, long-term care pharmacists are still greatly valued for their pharmacological expertise, their clinical knowledge and their ability to advocate for a patient — as it relates to medication.

Here is a three-part breakdown of the critical functions a pharmacist provides for a long-term care facility and the people it serves.

Reducing costs.

Long-term care pharmacists often work with patients who are living with comorbidities requiring multiple regimens of medication. Multiple medications can at times come with an exorbitant cost. However, according to the Journal of American Pharmacists Association, a pharmacist’s role has been linked to a decrease in overall medication costs for long-term care. By intervening and reviewing a patient’s medication regimen, long-term care pharmacists may be able to uncover opportunities for savings.

Dispense and manage.

The primary functions of a long-term care pharmacist involve managing and dispensing medication. A survey, conducted by the American Pharmacists Association, offers a glimpse into how long-term care pharmacists fraction their time to meet the needs of a facility’s patients. 

  • 26% of time focused on medication management
  • 24% of time focused on medication dispensing and associated patient counseling
  • 10% of time focused on data management
  • 10% of time focused on patient management services
  • 30% of time focused on other tasks

Managing complexities.

As mentioned, long-term care pharmacists often work with patient populations that are extremely complex. With the presence of comorbidities, patients are many times relying on multiple medications to manage their health. With knowledge in both the pharmacological and clinical spaces, long-term care pharmacists act as patient advocates, making sure a patient is receiving the best possible regimen of medication available. They ensure that patients: 

  • Are prescribed the safest medication, specifically so certain regimens don’t interfere with the efficacy of other medications being prescribed. 
  • Are prescribed the appropriate drug therapy for their specific condition. 
  • Are not prescribed unnecessary medications, which is where cost savings can come into play.

Long-term care pharmacists play an integral role in the care a patient receives and the outcomes a patient experiences. From eliminating unnecessary medications to uncovering more appropriate therapies for certain conditions to discovering cost savings, long-term care pharmacists are valued members of a patient’s overall care team. 

At UnitedRX, we deliver a hometown pharmacy experience to more than 350 clients across the country. Contact us to learn more about how our approach to treatment can meet the pharmacy needs of your long-term care facility.