Drug stores are returning to their roots by reemphasizing the role of the pharmacist in overall patient care. In some cases, drug companies are paying pharmacists to take a more active approach to managing medications and providing health care advice.
The move comes in response to a countrywide initiative to lower healthcare costs. Patients and insurance companies are realizing that appropriate use and tracking of medications is a good way to avoid emergency care costs. Meeting with a pharmacist is cheaper and often more convenient for patients than scheduling a visit with a physician. Pharmacists are now also allowed to administer vaccines in all 50 states which is becoming a big draw as recommendations for yearly flu shots now include most of the population.
Pharmacist education has been adapting to meet this change as well. Students are now required to get up to a year of education focused on interacting with patients and providing counseling services. Drug stores are taking advantage of the shift to once again promote pharmacists as a necessary and inexpensive part of total health care.