The Ever-Expanding Role of Consultant Pharmacists in Long-term Care

Clinical consultant pharmacists offer an individualized approach to the needs of long-term care facilities.

With the worst of the COVID-19 pandemic behind us, hope, connection, and community has returned to many long-term care (LTC) facilities. As we all learn to navigate this “new normal,” the LTC industry is finding new ways to address staffing, financial, and public perception challenges, making it more important than ever for facilities to remain innovative and focused on patient care. Clinical consultant pharmacists have become even more invaluable and are a tremendous asset for facilities to assist with these challenges, lending support where needed.

A CVS Health company, Omnicare is the leading LTC pharmacy services provider, and services around 10,000 LTC facilities across 48 states. As the vice president of professional solutions and services at Omnicare, I work closely with our clinical consultant pharmacists in partnership with pharmacists in our Clinical Intervention Centers to seek out new ways to help our customers.

Clinical consultant pharmacists are local, personal pharmacists and resources, offering an individualized approach to their community facility’s needs. Their role is to provide geriatric clinical expertise and education to the prescriber and nursing staff and to be a patient advocate when it comes to medication therapy. The pharmacists bring expertise and knowledge to ensure optimal prescribing, dosing, and administration of medications and act as a partner working with both the dispensing pharmacy and facility to promote efficient quality of care. They can also help create, implement, and monitor policies and procedures, provide oversight, and ensure the facility remains aligned with federal and state regulations.

All of these tasks are critically important to help a facility run smoothly and provide a high standard of care and based on the results of the most recent Omnicare customer satisfaction survey, it is evident that the work being done is beyond satisfactory. With more than 3000 survey responses, evaluating the quality of care for our network of more than 300 consultant pharmacists, satisfaction ratings are consistently over 90% satisfied, with many comments specifically directed at the positive impact the clinical consultants have on the facility.

Anecdotally, these statistics are further supported by stories we hear daily about consultant pharmacists going above and beyond their typical job description. For example, Jan Cigich volunteers her time around the holidays dressing up and visiting her local nursing homes to provide some entertainment. Pre-COVID, with facility approval, she would also bring her certified therapy dogs with her while consulting in assisted living facilities.

Similarly, Danielle Venturi had forged a great relationship as a member of the interdisciplinary team at a facility, and being present on the unit made it easy to recognize when something was not right with a resident who experienced repeated falls. She ultimately discovered that the resident was receiving a medication that could be contributing to frequent falls. Danielle contacted the practitioner and had the medication reviewed, thereby improving patient outcomes.

It’s not only the actions taken but the fact that our consultants become a part of the fabric of the facilities they service that makes them so valuable. When challenges are presented, they don’t take the easy road but work to find solutions, and never leave their customers or residents unsupported. Like many, their job responsibilities shifted suddenly during the COVID-19 pandemic, but our consultant pharmacists proved they are always willing and able to adapt, leading the efforts for infection control, personal protective equipment, testing, and vaccination.

As we finally begin to enter post-pandemic life, they continue to adapt to the evolving challenges facing the LTC industry. Finding this level of commitment is often difficult, yet incredibly important. Especially with the experiences each of our consultant pharmacists endured throughout this pandemic, I am confident they are adequately prepared for the post-pandemic challenges ahead.

Kathleen Beitzel is the vice president of professional solutions and services at Omnicare.