June 23, 2021 Amy Swanson

 The Benefit of Embedded Pharmacists for Patients with HIV

We recently interviewed Dr. Ryan Kates, PharmD, BCACP, AAHIVP, and Clinical Pharmacist from Northwestern Medicine Specialty Pharmacy. Dr. Kates works as an embedded pharmacist in an HIV clinic five days a week and serves as the residency program coordinator for the PGY2 Ambulatory Care Residency program. He describes the pharmacist’s role in medication adherence, as well as the value ongoing pharmacist interactions, can provide to patients living with HIV/HCV. 

Nearly 1.2 million patients live with Human Immunodeficiency Virus in the U.S., and about 13 percent of them don’t know it and need testing.  As National HIV Testing Day (June 27) approaches, it is the perfect opportunity to talk about health system specialty pharmacists, especially those embedded in clinics, and the important role they play in medication adherence for patients with HIV.  

At Northwestern Medicine, an Excelera Network member, almost every pharmacist is decentralized in their respective ambulatory care clinics. This innovative model provides regular opportunities for patients and pharmacists to interact whether through education or counseling, medication management, or removing financial or access barriers to care.  

During this interview, Dr. Kates discusses: 

  • What steered his career and interests toward health system specialty pharmacy (HSSP) and infectious diseases.  
  • The importance of medication adherence especially for those patients living with HIV, taking medication to prevent transmission (PrEP) of HIV or who are co-infected with both HIV and HCV which can help maintain viral suppression. 
  • His interest in working in an area where members of this LGBTQ+ community were disproportionately affected, combined with his clinical passions of counseling new patients, and helping them overcome barriers to care. He also serves as the residency program coordinator for the PGY2 Ambulatory Care Residency program at Northwestern Medicine. 
  • Exciting new therapies on the horizon for HIV/HCV 


What advice would you give your younger self at the outset of your career?   

Dr. Kates: If I could give my younger self advice, I would say “don’t be afraid to identify areas of workflow that are not optimal and work to make them more streamlined”. This will help to ensure there is more time for clinical activities as well as illuminate areas for potential pharmacist involvement and growth. 

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