Newswise — Chicago: (March 20, 2014) As an integral part of the healthcare team, oncology pharmacists play an important role in the delivery of care of individuals living with cancer. Oncology pharmacists have the training and expertise that places them in an optimal position to provide evidence-based care to the patient with cancer, including initial treatment decisions and subsequent therapeutic management, supportive care, and survivorship, as reported in the March 11 early release issue of Journal of Oncology Practice. The article, Oncology Pharmacists in Health Care Delivery: Vital Members of the Cancer Care Team by Lisa Marie Holle, PharmD BCOP and Laura Boehnke Michaud, PharmD BCOP FASHP, summarizes findings originally detailed in the Hematology/Oncology Pharmacy Association (HOPA) Scope of Hematology/Oncology Pharmacy Practice document.
Because oncology medications are often extremely toxic, require complicated preparation and administration, and are frequently expensive, having a specially trained hematology/oncology pharmacist as a member of the patient care team ensures an enhanced level of care. As a specialty area within pharmacy practice, the oncology pharmacist plays a vital role in treatment selection, management, research, education and even performance improvement.
The Scope of Hematology/Oncology Pharmacy Practice was developed to demonstrate that hematology/oncology pharmacists facilitate and improve patient care through evidence-based treatment selection, medication monitoring and modification, and symptom management. Hematology/oncology pharmacists are also on the front lines addressing insurance coverage issues, providing patient education and advocating for improved cancer care in the health policy arena.
“Oncology pharmacists are often viewed as the medication experts by the healthcare team, not only experts about cancer therapy but also about the other medications patients take. This expertise is important because pharmacists can identify and recommend strategies for preventing or mitigating medication safety issues, such as drug interactions and side effects, but also recommend more effective and less costly medications. This perspective brings a unique and valued asset to the healthcare team not only to improve patient care but to better impact the health care system as these types of therapy changes are often associated with reduced healthcare costs,” says immediate past president of HOPA and author, Holle.
Traditionally, oncology pharmacists have been primarily working in hospitals and cancer infusion centers, but now are establishing a greater presence in outpatient clinics, community pharmacies, specialty pharmacies, managed care, and professional, regulatory, and advocacy organizations. They are also developing medication- and disease-management programs. However, “as budgets tighten throughout health care, it has become increasingly imperative for pharmacists to be able to demonstrate their value through well-accepted methodology and outcomes,” says co-author Michaud. “This document challenges oncology pharmacists to prove to the rest of the medical community, patients, family members, cancer survivors and the general public what we have known for decades -- having an oncology pharmacist on the health care team improves the quality of patient care.”
A copy of the HOPA Scope of Hematology/Oncology Pharmacy Practice can be found here.
A link to Oncology Pharmacists in Health Care Delivery: Vital Members of the Cancer Care Team can be found here.
HOPA is a nonprofit professional organization formed in 2004 to help oncology and hematology pharmacy practitioners and their associates provide the best possible cancer care. HOPA supports research, conducts educational conferences to advance knowledge, encourages professional development and advocates for health policy issues that improve patient care. HOPA has more than 2,000 members and includes oncology pharmacists, as well as pharmacy interns, residents, nurses, technicians, researchers, and administrators specializing in hematology/oncology practice.
Editor's Note: Please see the article for additional information, including author contributions and affiliations, financial disclosures, funding and support, etc.