Pharmacist prescribing within an integrated health system in Washington

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Pharmacist prescribing as part of a collaborative drug therapy agreement (CDTA) within an integrated health system in Washington is described.


Virginia Mason Medical Center (VMMC) in Seattle, Washington, uses a team-based care model with broad-based CDTAs to provide quality patient care. The majority of patients are referred to the pharmacist after a diagnosis has been made and a clinical care plan has been started. The pharmacist manages the patient's care within his or her scope of practice as defined by state laws and further detailed by VMMC internal protocols. The pharmacist then documents in the electronic medical record the medication plan of care and other standard elements based on provider note templates. Medication prescribing and laboratory test ordering are the responsibilities of the pharmacist, as are any dosage adjustments or interpretations of laboratory test results. For some chronic diseases, the pharmacist may continue to see the patient indefinitely, replacing physician visits (e.g., for warfarin management). In more episodic care, the pharmacist may see the patient, optimize drug therapy, and then transition the patient back to the referring provider (e.g., for hypertension management). Integrating the pharmacist into the team has helped achieve optimal medication outcomes and increased patient satisfaction scores.


The addition of the pharmacist into a team-based care model using a CDTA helped achieve optimal medication outcomes and increased patient satisfaction scores in an integrated health system. Integration was successful due to the collaborative support from physician leadership and ongoing physician involvement. Hands-on leadership by the pharmacy department and clinic directors and the health system's adoption of Lean methodology fostered an environment for developing innovative care models.

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