Following her presentation on the expanding roles of pharmacists at the American College of Cardiology 2022 Scientific Sessions, Pharmacy Times spoke with Crystal Zhou, PharmD.
Q: Cardiovascular care can include many moving pieces, including pharmacotherapies, devices, and more. How are pharmacists involved at the various points of care?
Crystal Zhou, PharmD: So pharmacists are very involved when it comes to medication therapy management. So especially for patients who have new devices or come out from the hospital, including pharmacists in that transition period, has become really important because the medication changes and educating the patient on those changes as well. Because if you imagine a patient and 10 plus medications, getting that all changed up in the hospital leaving is just very confusing. So that’s really where I come in, make sure everything they’re taking is appropriate and safe location as possible safety first, but then also, efficacy.
Q: With therapies in this space developing quickly, how are pharmacists becoming more essential than ever?
Crystal Zhou, PharmD: So therapies and medications; it’s so hard to keep up with them nowadays, everything I’ve learned in school, I feel like is now outdated, and I didn’t graduate that long ago. So it’s been good as a resource for cardiology providers. I would like for pharmacists to know and keep up on the up and coming drugs. So as an example, the PCSK, the PCSK9 inhibitors, and they first came out. And so with our pharmacy team we helped get patients access to these medications by helping authorizations, maybe a few levels, and also patient assistance.
Q: Can you discuss the importance of incorporating pharmacists into the larger care team?
Crystal Zhou, PharmD: Yeah, so I feel like pharmacists are really equipped to monitor for medications that the patients are taking. So without the pharmacist, I mean, it becomes hard to keep an eye on all changes and the doses that are happening for each of the patients. So as an example, I work with a lot of patients with an uncontrolled hypertension or heart failure, and they’re getting their medications changed potentially every two weeks. And so as the pharmacist, I think it’s really crucial to follow up with that patient and make sure they’re getting their labs monitoring, and if they’re not, giving them a call and reminding them, and then also updating the prescriptions and sending them to the pharmacy. Really having that pharmacist is the one who keeps a close eye on the patient in between the other providers.