Moving Us Closer To Osler
A Miller Coulson Academy of Clinical Excellence Initiative

Partnering With Pharmacists in Ambulatory Care


Clinicians and pharmacists can work together to give holistic and comprehensive patient care. This requires understanding each other’s expertise. 

Pharmacists have been invaluable partners to clinicians in ambulatory care environments for over five decades, playing a vital role in helping patients achieve their health goals. Equipped with post-graduate training, specialized board certifications, and collaborative practice agreements, pharmacists are instrumental in optimizing medication regimens for patients. A recent study published in JAMA, which highlighted the significant impact of pharmacists in lowering hemoglobin A1C levels, underscores the important role they play in patient care.  Numerous other publications echo this sentiment, showcasing the multifaceted benefits of integrating pharmacists as core members of the primary care team.


In ambulatory care settings, pharmacists address a spectrum of conditions including diabetes, hypertension, anticoagulation, asthma, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, and heart failure. Moreover, specialized pharmacists focus on areas such as outpatient infectious disease and chronic kidney disease, offering tailored expertise to diverse patient populations. Beyond disease management, pharmacists are adept at reducing medication costs, implementing deprescribing strategies, and identifying and overcoming various medication-related barriers. 


Clinicians play a crucial role in supporting their pharmacist colleagues. Advocating for funding to facilitate pharmacist collaboration in patient care and to assist in achieving key quality metrics is essential. For clinicians working in offices with existing ambulatory care pharmacists, understanding the scope of services provided by these professionals is vital. These services encompass disease state management, medication management, and enhancing medication access. The services offered may vary based on pharmacists’ experience, training, and state regulations. Armed with this knowledge, clinicians can identify patients who could benefit from these services and make appropriate referrals. 


Pharmacists are often referred to as the “secret weapons in patient care.” However, the objective of this collaboration is to ensure that their services are no longer a secret but a mainstream component of every outpatient office. By promoting open communication, understanding each other’s expertise, and fostering collaboration, clinicians and pharmacists can work together to give holistic and comprehensive care to patients. Through these collaborative efforts, the full potential of pharmacists in ambulatory care can be realized, ultimately leading to improved patient outcomes and enhanced healthcare delivery. 










This piece expresses the views solely of the author. It does not necessarily represent the views of any organization, including Johns Hopkins Medicine.