Pharmacists Leading Medication Management Driving Better Results

Doctor comforting a patient and discussing medication management.

Hospitals across the U.S. are reporting better patient outcomes and lower drug spends when they give pharmacists greater control over medication management, according to recent research.

A variety of medication management techniques are driving this change, especially collaborative drug therapy management (CDTM) agreements. These agreements allow pharmacists to act in a variety of ways to improve patient care using set protocols, including:

  • Ordering lab tests
  • Adjusting or initiating drug therapy
  • Changing frequency of administration

The diseases and treatment areas where pharmacists most often intervened were for anti-coagulation, infectious diseases, and parenteral nutrition, in a study from Purdue University.1

The 2017 study1 found that 77% of hospitals have protocols that give pharmacists authority for product selection and dosing, and 86% let pharmacists write medication orders. A 2018 survey by Pharmacy Practice Newsmagazine verified similar results, finding that 70% of respondents write prescriptions under a CDTM and nearly 100% report changing prescriptions ordered by physicians.

In fact, 35% of pharmacists surveyed said they switched a patient to an alternative drug more than 20 times per week and more than 50% reported adjusting doses more than 20 times per week.

CDTMs improving patient care

Forty-eight of the 50 states allow CDTMs, and the actions these agreements allow varies dramatically from state-to-state. Some permit a very narrow set of actions while others give pharmacists broad control over medication management. The most-generous CDTMs give pharmacists the latitude to make prescription changes to either improve efficacy or to minimize adverse drug reactions.

Research shows that patients and hospitals benefit from pharmacist-led medication management in several ways, including:

  • Reduced 30-day readmission rates
  • Improved drug adherence
  • Reduced poly-pharmacy
  • Lower mortality in heart-failure patients
  • Lowered costs for both patients and hospitals
  • Strengthened antibiotic and other stewardship programs
  • Freed physicians to attend to other aspects of patient care

CDTM agreements “allow my pharmacists to practice at the top of their license,” said Dr. Nancy A Huff, PharmD, the director of pharmacy services at Lahey Hospital & Medical Center, near Boston. “They are now empowered to help manage many challenging, chronic diseases such as diabetes, dyslipidemia, hypertension, COPD [chronic obstructive pulmonary disease], asthma, heart failure and others.”




  1. Am J Health Syst Pharm 2017;74[21]:1791-1905. doi:
  2. Pharmacists Flexing Their Med Management Muscles. Pharmacy Practice News. Accessed June 28, 2018.


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