Beyond the Doctor: How Remote Pharmacists are Revolutionizing Cancer Care


Andrea Roman, PharmD, BCOP, discusses findings from a study investigating the benefits of remote oncology pharmacists.

A study presented at the 2024 American Society of Clinical Onclogy (ASCO) Annual Meeting investigated the impact of oncology-trained pharmacists providing remote clinical services to community oncology practices. Pharmacists reviewed chemotherapy regimens for over 19,000 patients and identified opportunities for modification in over 70% of cases. These modifications often addressed medication safety, dosing, and regimen optimization, with a significant portion deemed clinically significant by the pharmacists.

The study found that pharmacist interventions resulted in several positive outcomes. Clinically, they improved medication safety and regimen effectiveness. Financially, they led to medication-related margin improvements of $9.3 million and a $4.3 million reduction in medication costs. These financial benefits significantly outweighed the cost of the pharmacist program, demonstrating a 560% return on investment.

In conclusion, the study highlights the valuable role of oncology pharmacists in community oncology settings. Their expertise can significantly enhance patient care, improve workflow efficiency for physicians, and generate substantial cost savings for practices.

Here, Andrea Roman, PharmD, BCOP, discusses the study presented at the 2024 ASCO Meeting.


0:05 | At The US Oncology Network, we realized that a lot of our practices didn't have access or weren't utilizing clinical pharmacists. Either they didn't have access to them, or if they did have pharmacists on staff, they were often in a more operational role or administrative vs having some clinical reviews. I think in an ideal states, all oncology practices would have access to clinical oncology pharmacists to help them with clinical outcomes and collaboration.

0:30 | In 2023, we were servicing 12 different oncology practices. And we found about almost 28,000 clinical reviews that we completed. And so we were looking at cycle 1, day 1 chemotherapy prior to patient getting treated. So we were looking for things like therapeutic interchanges, dose rounding opportunities, and then any clinical interventions we could make. And we were able to intervene on 73% of those reviews. And a majority of those interventions were clinically significant deemed by the pharmacist that was doing the intervention. So we were really able to show that work over 11,000 anticancer dose changes made over 700 supportive care recommendations that were made by the pharmacist and then over 400 additional monitoring recommendations for their medications.

1:11 | We were also able to show and an improvement in hopefully provider burnout by saving them some hours. So through the work that we were doing, we were able to do them independently because we helped develop and implement some policies that were provider-approved at the practices that allowed us to do the work independently without having to ask them every time we wanted to make a change. So over time, I think that like you build the trust clinically, and then you can add policies on top of the ones who already have for therapeutic interchanges. So things like carboplatin, dose changes, [zoledronic acid (Zometa)] for renal dosing, those types of things, really able to show the value. And then over 800 hours of provider time saved over that year with those policies, and the financial feasibility of us. So pharmacists, not exactly cheap to have on staff. And so it's hard to kind of justify why, you know, why should you do it vs someone else? We showed over 500% return on investment. So over, I believe the 12 practices, the pharmacists cost about $1.4 million over the course of the year, and we were able to show a margin of over $9 million.

Transcription created with AI and edited for clarity.

Recent Videos
Related Content