Medical doctors, smart as they are, often have to refer to third parties for information on drugs, especially when they are treating unfamiliar conditions. It is not uncommon for a doctor to take some time to find out what drug is best for their patient, how it will interact with certain other drugs they may be taking, how much they should take, and for how long.
This information is usually available in books and databases. Sometimes, a pharmacist at the other end of the line can quickly look up a drug and let the doctor know whether it is ideal for their needs.
All these are called drug information services and have become an important part of healthcare delivery in America.
Verbal communication between doctors and pharmacists is the quickest way to get answers. When it isn’t available, doctors usually have to refer to written materials to try and find the answers they are looking for.
It is time-consuming, and it can have consequences for the patient. It also isn’t the best use of the doctor’s time. They should be able to get pharmaceutical information quickly and efficiently if they are to deliver life-saving treatments.
Drug information services deliver scientific, well-researched information regarding drugs and drug use. It can be oral or written, or it can be both. A doctor may call to get some oral preliminary information about a drug and then request that more detailed information is sent to their offices.
The person at the other end of the line is a trained pharmacist with in-depth knowledge of drugs, drug interactions, and side effects.
While they may not hold all information about all drugs at their fingertips, they can interrogate databases and look up various other sources to provide doctors and nurses with what they need.
You need a pharmacy degree to work in a drug in a drug information service. Pharmacy online programs, which can be studied through an accredited university such as Findlay, are designed to familiarize you with topics like introduction to physical pharmacy and pharmaceutics, pharmacy practice skills, application of pharmacy practice, and advanced pharmacy practice experience. You will learn how to collate information, maintain a drug database, and provide healthcare providers with the necessary answers.
As these programs are online, you can complete them in two or three years. If you enroll in a reputable university, you also get practical experience that gives you real-life insights into how pharmacies work.
What is the role of the pharmacist in a drug information service?
Pharmacists play an important role in ensuring drug information services are properly run, and information dispensed promptly. Among other roles, they may be charged with the following:
They anticipate the needs of healthcare professionals whenever possible
A good example is during the COVID-19 pandemic when doctors were confronted with all sorts of complications arising from the infection.
They needed to know what drugs were best to tackle these complications, even if just to alleviate symptoms. Pharmacists in drug information centers needed to anticipate what drugs doctors would be asking for and make sure to have the information at hand.
They obtain all the relevant background information
Rather than the pharmacist providing rafts of information about a drug that may not be useful for the situation at hand, it makes sense for them to gather background information to make the healthcare provider’s work easier.
They may ask about the condition of the patient, their age, and other information that helps provide crisp information that the doctor can use right away.
They create and use systematic approaches to retrieve and provide information
Pharmacists need to be organized in their work. They should organize drug information in a way that makes it easy to retrieve and have a system in place for handling requests from healthcare providers.
They interrogate databases
Most drug information today is held in databases that may sit on local servers or a cloud service. A competent pharmacist in a drug information center knows how to interrogate the repository to find whatever information has been requested.
Keeping databases up to date
New drugs are released all the time, and for existing drugs, there is constant feedback from patients and doctors.
The pharmacist’s role is to ensure that all new information is entered into the database. It should be scientifically accurate and backed by the necessary tests and studies.
Educating healthcare professionals
Pharmacists should educate healthcare professionals on the uses of different drugs, their efficacy, and side effects.
If certain new drugs on the market could be of use in treating certain illnesses, it is their job to make sure that doctors know about them and how they should be used.
They should also organize continuing education sessions for doctors and nurses to make sure that they are apprised of the latest information in pharmacology.
Obtaining and providing feedback
If a particular drug is causing concern, the pharmacist should interview doctors and patients to find out why, collect information, write up reports and make sure they are seen by the relevant parties.
If a particular drug is harming patients, they should let the relevant bodies know, and they must let doctors and nurses understand the side effects of harmful pharmaceuticals and take caution.
Providing peer review literature
Pharmacists should be at the forefront of educating other medical professionals about developments and discoveries in the pharma world. They should author papers with new information to keep everyone abreast of developments concerning various drugs.
Some of these roles are better undertaken by pharmacists with certain expertise and training. This means that if you want to rise to the top of this field, you should aim to gain a postgraduate degree in pharmaceutical studies.
They provide information to medical billing companies
Medical billing companies often liaise with drug information services for specific billing information. It helps prevent fraud and makes sure that patients are using the medications that have been prescribed for them.
Drug information services are vital within the clinical setting. They provide medical practitioners with fast, reliable information on various medications, which allows them to serve patients better.
You can qualify to work in a drug information service by enrolling in online Pharm D programs. They take a shorter time than in-person classes and impart the necessary knowledge you need to provide healthcare providers with pharmaceutical information.