As a healthcare professional, you know the important role your organization's pharmacists play in every patient's treatment and recovery.

But did you know that your pharmacists can have a much greater impact on improving outcomes beyond their traditional consult role with your physicians? Cutting-edge research has illuminated fresh ways that your pharmacists' knowledge can be used as active members of inpatient teams.

Try this proven advice:

Utilize "handshake stewardship."

A team, including researchers Amanda L. Hurst and Sarah Parker, at Children's Hospital Colorado reports that fully incorporating a pharmacist onto a care team using direct interaction with doctors — the kind of face-to-face contact that is often sealed by a friendly handshake — can have a powerful and positive impact on patient care.

In the study, antibiotic-resistant infections were reduced when pharmacists did daily rounding with physicians, did daily reviews of the true need for patients to receive antibiotics, and had a lack of restriction in terms of communicating their opinions to the doctors they worked with.

Encourage direct input from pharmacists on elderly patients' cases.

Swedish researcher Maria Gustafsson reports that including a pharmacist as a full partner on a dementia patient's care team can dramatically reduce readmissions caused by drug-related issues. This can also work for every elderly patient, especially those who juggle multiple prescriptions at home.

Assign a pharmacist directly to every stroke patient.

A study from Loyola University by a team including lead author Megan A. Rech found that a pharmacist who was able to facilitate bedside administration of the drug rtPA can sometimes stop a stroke immediately. Pharmacist participation sped up administration of this key medication by an average of 23.5 minutes.

Urge your doctors to trust your pharmacists.

Research from a Purdue College of Medicine team led by Alan Zillich found that physicians accept the phone recommendations of pharmacists 80% of the time. Pharmacists' knowledge can be even more of a boon in face-to-face team interactions, so stress the importance of treating a pharmacist as a full-fledged peer to all your doctors.

Keep your ear to the ground.

Monitor how well care teams work together once pharmacists are fully and actively incorporated. Set the tone for success early by nipping issues in the bud and praising great teamwork. Everyone — doctors, patients and pharmacists — will benefit!