Can new rules in Ohio address a pharmacy staffing shortage and improve care?

UC pharmacy expert joins WVXU's Cincinnati Edition

As pharmacies face a staffing shortage nationwide, pharmacy workers are often being asked to do more with less. The Ohio Board of Pharmacy has released new rules to help address the issue.

The rules, effective May 1, include minimum staffing levels based on all services offered rather than only on how many prescriptions are filled and a requirement to create a process where workers can report concerns to management that are addressed in a timely manner.

The University of Cincinnati's Michael Hegener, PharmD, joined WVXU's Cincinnati Edition to discuss the new rules and the underlying issues currently affecting pharmacies. He said many of the issues are caused by tighter profit margins, as pharmacy benefit managers are sometimes reimbursing pharmacies less than what they have to pay for the drugs.

"You can actually lose money filling a prescription," said Hegener, director of the Wuest Family Pharmacy Practice Skills Center and associate professor of pharmacy in UC's James L. Winkle College of Pharmacy. "So how can you pay to have an adequate staffing model when you have to try to, again, do more with less?"

Hegener said the new rules are a "step in the right direction" if pharmacies implement them as intended without finding loopholes.

"I do think its a positive step and helps hopefully mitigate some of these concerns that pharmacists have had," he said.

Listen to the Cincinnati Edition segment.

Featured photo at top of a pharmacist speaking with a customer. Photo/Drazen Zigic/iStock.

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