Monday, January 13, 2014

The college’s newest faculty member is interested in conducting research to improve the way pharmacists and patients interact in community and clinic pharmacies.

Matthew Witry started the new year with a new title – assistant professor in the Health Services Research (HSR) Division of the D​epartment of Pharmacy Practice and Science (PPS). Dr. Witry received his PharmD (2008) and PhD (2013) in Pharmaceutical Socioeconomics from the college.

“I’m interested in helping pharmacists approach problems and connect with patients in new ways,” he said. “Pharmacists have long approached their role from an information-giving medical model, and tend to work as quickly, and as ‘yes-no’, ‘black and white’, as possible. But when we think about how nurses, social workers, and other types of professionals interact with people, maybe there are other patient-centered approaches that pharmacists can adopt.”

Witry is also interested in how pharmacists monitor patients’ medication use, and refining work systems to best prioritize which patients most need pharmacist intervention. 

“Matt’s natural curiosity and enthusiasm will make him a vital contributor to the college,” said William Doucette, Veale Professor and HSR head. “With his background as a pharmacist and a scientist, Matt is positioned well to help us better understand how pharmacists can work with patients to take medication safely and effectively.”

Dr. Witry’s dissertation was a mixed-methods study of how community pharmacists monitor medications when they dispense drugs – specifically, of what gets pharmacists’ attention, and when do they ask questions about long-term medications.

“A medication could go from being well-tolerated one day to giving the patient problems months or years down the line, as they age or another medication has been added,” Dr. Witry said. “Because the pharmacist meets with a patient a lot more often than their physicians, logically, pharmacists have more of an opportunity to notice when a regular customer may not be reaching their health goal.”

The study concluded that many community pharmacists in multiple settings are oriented to monitoring, but there are significant barriers which need to be addressed for a broadening of this role.

“I’m thrilled to be aboard and look forward to the future,” said Dr. Witry.