The impact of pharmacist’s involvement in healthcare sustainability: A combined research of literature review and pharmacist’s opinions
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Introduction: National healthcare systems face ongoing financial challenges that considerably impact the quality of care provided. The COVID-19 pandemic has further exacerbated this health crisis by limiting essential resources and preventing high-risk patients to access the required services. Previous research suggested that pharmacist’s role is associated with minimisation of healthcare costs and optimisation of healthcare outcomes. The purpose of this study was to investigate this association further by taking into account specific advanced services that might be implemented by pharmacists. These practises include pharmacy prescribing practise, vaccinations, chronic disease management and medication use review. Literature Review: Several studies conducted in different countries, including the UK and US, have shown that the pharmacist's job significantly impacts healthcare system sustainability and patient health by implementing these practices. Promising conclusions have been revealed from all studies analysed these specific practises, such as, medication adherence, improved patient outcomes and reduction of hospitalisation. Based on these favourable findings regarding the effectiveness of these practises, this study hypothesised that all these practises positively impact the sustainability of the national healthcare system in Cyprus. Methods: A combination of literature review and survey research was conducted to assess the impact of these advanced services. Whilst literature review provided favourable outcomes regarding the potential impact of pharmacists through advanced services, the survey aimed to investigate their potential by asking specific closed-ended questions. Pharmacists were invited through their local associations and electronically to respond to this survey. Exclusion criteria included retired and newly graduated pharmacists. Dependent variable was defined as the national healthcare sustainability, whereas independent variable was defined as the specific services evaluated. Moderate variables were defined as the job satisfaction and compensation. Both descriptive statistics and interfacial statistics were utilised to measure and evaluate the association between the services under investigation and their impact to the national healthcare sustainability. Results: Overall, 80 pharmacists responded to this survey and thereafter their demographic characteristics were analysed. The majority of respondents were women (67.5%), aged between 35-64 (51%), and pharmacy owners (56%). Most of pharmacists participated in this study support the implementation of all practises evaluated, as well as they believe they might positively contribute to the national healthcare sustainability. In addition, a large proportion of participants indicated a level of dissatisfaction with their current role in the national healthcare system and in fact support the evolution of their job. They were predominately dissatisfied with their current compensation, and they believe they should be reimbursed additionally whether they offer advanced services. Conclusion: In summary, a strong association between the implementation of the practises analysed and healthcare sustainability has been identified in this research. Several demographic variables might contribute to this association, such as age, working experience and educational background. Whilst this was a survey study with a relatively small sample size, further research is essential, such as observational studies with larger sample sizes and studies that conduct pharmacoeconomic measure to evaluate the cost-effectiveness of these practises directly.