Faculty Articles


Integration Strategies of Pharmacists in Primary Care-Based Accountable Care Organizations: A Report from the Accountable Care Organization Research Network, Services, and Education



Publication Title

Journal of Managed Care & Specialty Pharmacy





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Academy of Managed Care Pharmacy

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BACKGROUND: The accountable care organization (ACO) is an innovative health care delivery model centered on value-based care. ACOs consisting of primary care providers are increasingly becoming commonplace in practice; however, medication management remains suboptimal.

PROGRAM DESCRIPTION: As experts in medication management, pharmacists perform direct patient care and assist in the transition from one provider to another, which places them in an ideal position to manage multiple aspects of patient care. Pharmacist-provided care has been shown to reduce drug expenditures, hospital readmissions, length of stay, and emergency department visits. Although pharmacists have become key team members of interdisciplinary teams within traditional care settings, their role has often been overlooked in the primary care-based ACO. In 2015, Nova Southeastern University College of Pharmacy founded the Accountable Care Organization Research Network, Services, and Education (ACORN SEED), a team of pharmacy practice faculty dedicated to using innovative approaches to patient care, while providing unique learning experiences for pharmacy students by partnering with ACOs in the South Florida region. Five opportunities are presented for pharmacists to improve medication use specifically in primary care-based ACOs: medication therapy management, annual wellness visits, chronic disease state management, chronic care management, and transitions of care.

OBSERVATIONS: Several challenges and barriers that prevent the full integration of pharmacists into primary care-based ACOs include lack of awareness of pharmacist roles in primary care; complex laws and regulations surrounding clinical protocols, such as collaborative practice agreements; provider status that allows compensation for pharmacist services; and limited access to medical records. By understanding and maximizing the role of pharmacists, several opportunities exist to better manage the medication-use process in value-based care settings.

IMPLICATIONS/RECOMMENDATIONS: As more organizations realize benefits and overcome barriers to the integration of pharmacists into patient care, programs involve pharmacists will become an increasingly common approach to improve outcomes and reduce the total cost of care and will improve the financial viability of primary care-based ACOs.

DISCLOSURES: No outside funding supported this research. The authors report no conflicts of interest related to this manuscript. Study concept and design were contributed by Joseph, Hale, and Eltaki, with assistance from the other authors. Prados and Jones took the lead in data collection and data interpretation and analysis, with assistance from the other authors. The manuscript was written primarily by Joseph and Hale, along with the other authors, and revised primarily by Seamon and Gernant, along with the other authors.


Medicine and Health Sciences | Pharmacy and Pharmaceutical Sciences


accountable care organizations, delivery of health care, humans, medication therapy management, patient care, patient care team, pharmaceutical services, pharmacists, primary health care, professional role

Peer Reviewed

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