Pharmacists taking on primary care counseling role

Kelly Brewington at The Balitmore Sun reports that some of the advice and counseling traditionally undertaken by primary care physicians is being taken up by pharmacists:

[S]ome physicians fear the trend could erode the role of the primary care doctor as the coordinator of a patient’s care.

“If you basically start carving out certain sections of the primary care responsibility and assign them to other practitioners, then you sort of endanger the entire concept,” said Stephen Johnson, interim executive director of MedChi, the state medical society. “The idea is that every patient has a place that is their home where a physician knows them and knows their problems and can manage their care.”

But pharmacists say the model is struggling, as overburdened primary care doctors have less time for patient counseling.

Much of primary care consists of physicians talking to patients.  Getting patients to understand their illnesses can be difficult and time consuming.  This is one of those real world problems in medicine for which the usual panaceas — pay for performance, universal health care, electronic health records — have little to offer.

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