UCSF

UCSF School of Pharmacy testing new ways to better manage patients’ medications

An article in the August 13, 2010, issue of The New York Times, entitled “Pharmacists Take a Larger Role on Health Team,” points to the emerging role of pharmacists in the direct management of patients’ medications—a function that has been shown to improve health outcomes and decrease health care costs. Programs designed to test the effectiveness of the pharmacist-led medication management programs have long been under way at the UCSF School of Pharmacy.

“We test new ways to deliver pharmaceutical care, and we share our findings with our colleagues worldwide. The New York Times piece cited a new project we designed and are studying through our department’s Center for Self Care,” explains B. Joseph Guglielmo, PharmD, chair of the School’s department of clinical pharmacy. The program to which Guglielmo refers is evaluating whether members of the California Public Employees’ Retirement System (CalPERS), who are insured by Blue Shield of California and suffer from type 2 diabetes, will show improved health outcomes as a result of pharmaceutical care provided by pharmacists at select Raley’s pharmacies in Northern California. The Raley’s pharmacists are helping the study patients manage their diabetes medications and collect the data that the Center for Self Care then evaluates. In San Francisco, the same center connects one of its UCSF School of Pharmacy pharmacists via two-way video with diabetes patients at St. Anthony’s Free Medical Clinic, and collects and evaluates the results of these consultants.

“We also have a Medication Management Service in Fresno to help patients get access to the medications they need but can’t afford, and manage their meds. And we have a California statewide program—Partners in D—that is testing how to help Medicare Part D patients get the most out of this federal prescription drug benefit,” adds Guglielmo. With a focus on hospitalized patients, the department formed in 2007 a special unit, called the Medications Outcome Center, to study better ways to deliver pharmaceutical care to patients within the UCSF Medical Center.

Programs such as these that offer pointed management by a pharmacist of a patient’s medications are the heart and soul of our pharmacy profession, states Guglielmo. “We’re trained as patient care providers with a unique expertise in medications to prevent, palliate, and treat disease. With health care reform now top of mind we have the opportunity to test the impact of our care as at no other time. And we’re not letting this opportunity pass.”

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About the School: The UCSF School of Pharmacy aims to solve the most pressing health care problems and strives to ensure that each patient receives the safest, most effective treatments. Our discoveries seed the development of novel therapies, and our researchers consistently lead the nation in NIH funding. The School’s doctor of pharmacy (PharmD) degree program, with its unique emphasis on scientific thinking, prepares students to be critical thinkers and leaders in their field.