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Clinical Pharmacist Credentialing and Privileging: A Process for Ensuring High-Quality Patient Care

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The Red Lake Indian Health Service (IHS) health care facility is in north-central Minnesota within the Red Lake Nation. The facility supports primary care, emergency, urgent care, pharmacy, inpatient, optometry, dental, radiology, laboratory, physical therapy, and behavioral health services to about 10,000 Red Lake Band of Chippewa Indian patients. The Red Lake pharmacy provides inpatient and outpatient medication services and pharmacist-managed clinical patient care.

In 2013, the Red Lake IHS medical staff endorsed the implementation of comprehensive clinical pharmacy services to increase health care access and optimize clinical outcomes for patients. During the evolution of pharmacy-based patient-centric care, the clinical programs offered by Red Lake IHS pharmacy expanded from 1 anticoagulation clinic to multiple advanced-practice clinical pharmacy services. This included pharmacy primary care, medication-assisted therapy, naloxone, hepatitis C, and behavioral health medication management clinics.

The immense clinical growth of the pharmacy department demonstrated a need to assess and monitor pharmacist competency to ensure the delivery of quality patient care. Essential quality improvement processes were lacking. To fill these quality improvement gaps, a robust pharmacist credentialing and privileging program was implemented in 2015.

Patient Care

As efforts within health care establishments across the US focus on the delivery of efficient, high-quality, affordable health care, pharmacists have become increasingly instrumental in providing patient care within expanded clinical roles.1-8 Many clinical pharmacy models have evolved into interdisciplinary approaches to care.9 Within these models, abiding by state and federal laws, pharmacists practice under the indirect supervision of licensed independent practitioners (LIPs), such as physicians, nurse practitioners, and physician assistants.8 Under collaborative practice agreements (CPAs), patients are initially diagnosed by LIPs, then referred to clinical pharmacists for therapeutic management.5,7

Clinical pharmacist functions encompass comprehensive medication management (ie, prescribing, monitoring, and adjustment of medications), nonpharmacologic guidance, and coordination of care. Interdisciplinary collaboration allows pharmacists opportunities to provide direct patient care or consultations by telecommunication in many different clinical environments, including disease management, primary care, or specialty care. Pharmacists may manage chronic or acute illnesses associated with endocrine, cardiovascular, respiratory, gastrointestinal, or other systems.

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