These days, a growing number of pharmacists are going above and beyond filling prescriptions. As more patients need help managing their medications to prevent or treat chronic illness—an additional time pressure for stretched physicians—the prescribing pharmacist is playing a key role on the patient care team. In addition to prescribing medications and working with patients to adjust dosing, these pharmacists can also conduct health screenings and give vaccinations.

This expansion of the pharmacist’s role is proving invaluable for patients with such conditions as heart disease. For example, heart attack victims can reduce their risk of another episode with common drugs such as angiotensin-converting enzyme (ACE) inhibitors—yet research has found that a substantial number of patients stop taking these medications over time, in part due to side effects that can be addressed with dosing adjustments.

To enhance medication adherence—and hopefully prevent more heart attacks—Calum MacRae, Vice Chair for Scientific Innovation in the Department of Medicine at Brigham and Women’s Hospital, has launched a new program that makes it easier to adjust patient dosing. The program pairs prescribing pharmacists and health coaches, who monitoring patient tests outside the doctor’s office. Results are reported to a health coach, who enters patient data into a system monitored by a pharmacist able to adjust dosing accordingly.

By easing the experience of patient monitoring and reducing adverse events, the pilot has helped patients reach their health goals while reducing their associated costs by 60 percent so far.

Read more about the program in Proto.