Pharmaceutical Role Expansion and Developments in Pharmacist-Physician Communication

Alicia A. Bergman, Heather A. Jaynes, Jasmine D. Gonzalvo, Karen Suchanek Hudmon, Richard Frankel, Amanda L. Kobylinski, Alan J. Zillich

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

15 Scopus citations


Expanded clinical pharmacist professional roles in the team-based patient-centered medical home (PCMH) primary care environment require cooperative and collaborative relationships among pharmacists and primary care physicians (PCPs), but many PCPs have not previously worked in such a direct fashion with pharmacists. Additional roles, including formulary control, add further elements of complexity to the clinical pharmacist–PCP relationship that are not well described. Our objective was to characterize the nature of clinical pharmacist–PCP interprofessional collaboration across seven federally funded hospitals and associated primary care clinics, following pharmacist placement in primary care clinics and incorporation of expanded pharmacist roles. In-depth and semistructured interviews were conducted with 25 practicing clinical pharmacists and 17 PCPs. Qualitative thematic analysis revealed three major themes: (1) the complexities of electronic communication (particularly electronic nonformulary requests) as contributing to interprofessional tensions or misunderstandings for both groups, (2) the navigation of new roles and traditional hierarchy, with pharmacists using indirect communication to prevent PCP defensiveness to recommendations, and (3) a preference for onsite colocation for enhanced communication and professional relationships. Clinical pharmacists’ indirect communication practices may hold important implications for patient safety in the context of medication use, and it is important to foster effective communication skills and an environment where all team members across hierarchies can feel comfortable speaking up to reduce error when problems are suspected. Also, the lack of institutional communication about managing drug formulary issues and related electronic nonformulary request processes was apparent in this study and merits further attention for both researchers and practitioners.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)161-170
Number of pages10
JournalHealth Communication
Issue number2
StatePublished - Feb 1 2016
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Health(social science)
  • Communication

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    Bergman, A. A., Jaynes, H. A., Gonzalvo, J. D., Hudmon, K. S., Frankel, R., Kobylinski, A. L., & Zillich, A. J. (2016). Pharmaceutical Role Expansion and Developments in Pharmacist-Physician Communication. Health Communication, 31(2), 161-170.