Innovative pharmacy services promote improved patient care, life quality, NACDS head writes
ARLINGTON, Va. — The head of a trade organization for retail pharmacies critiqued the conclusions of an op-ed published in the Wall Street Journal that cast doubt on some of the potential benefits of accountable care organizations.
In the op-ed, published Tuesday, the "father of disruptive innovation," Harvard Business School professor and Innosight Institute founder Clayton Christensen and two colleagues wrote that ACOs would not succeed without major changes in the behavior of doctors and patients and would not save a significant amount of money.
"On the one hand, their recommendations for healthcare ring truer than true – they can and should guide the successful implementation of reform," National Association of Chain Drug Stores president and CEO Steve Anderson wrote in a letter to the WSJ in response to the op-ed. "Yet it does not follow, as they suggest, that these recommendations have not already taken root to some extent in the early stages of ACOs, and among other efforts to advance healthcare delivery."
Christensen and his colleagues urged policymakers to “consider opportunities to shift more care to less-expensive venues” like retail clinics; to “consider regulatory and payment changes that will enable doctors and all medical providers to do everything that their license allows them to do”; to “consider changing anticompetitive regulations and licensure statues that practitioners have used to protect their guilds”; and to “make fuller use of technology.”
"While community pharmacies are best known for helping patient use medicines safely and stay healthy, innovative services of pharmacies and co-located clinics do even more to improve patient health and quality of life," Anderson wrote. "These services include vaccinations, health screenings and education and more."
Community-based diabetes efforts should involve retail pharmacies
The YMCA is offering a demonstration project to show that its YMCA Diabetes Prevention Program — part of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s broader National Diabetes Prevention Program — can lower the incidence of Type 2 diabetes and reduce medical costs incurred by Medicare. The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Innovation is funding the project, whereby YMCAs in 17 communities that deliver the program will offer it at no cost to 10,000 Medicare enrollees over the next three years, and the YMCA expects it to save Medicare $4.2 million over three years and $53 million over six years.
It’s been said that, "It takes a village to raise a child," and because chronic disease is an issue that affects communities as a whole – not just individuals – it would make sense for community-based organizations to target a growing national health crisis like the diabetes epidemic. According to the American Diabetes Association, which is collaborating with the YMCA on the program, 25.8 million people in the United States have diabetes, as well as 79 million with prediabetes.
While the YMCA is not directly involved with any retail pharmacies in the program, its third-party administrator is the Diabetes Prevention and Control Alliance, an initiative sponsored by UnitedHealth Group, which does work with retail pharmacies. For example, in November 2012, Rite Aid announced the rollout of a diabetes-control program at 25 stores in Cleveland, allowing enrollees to connect with pharmacists trained in diabetes care and medication therapy management to receive private, one-on-one consultations providing education and support. One of the 17 communities where the YMCA is piloting the program also happens to be Cleveland.
This may offer a glimpse of what retail pharmacies could do when it comes to community-based efforts to combat diabetes. "If retail drug stores are screening people for diabetes, they could refer people to the YMCA’s diabetes-prevention program," YMCA spokeswoman Kelly Kennai told Drug Store News.
But pharmacy retailers do a lot more than screening: They offer MTM, disease-state management and education. And those with loyalty card programs tied to health and wellness — such as Rite Aid’s Wellness+ for Diabetes and CVS’ ExtraCare Advantage for Diabetes — provide a carrot for patients in addition to the stick they have to put in their hand in the form of special offers on products, education and more. In addition, many retailers, such as supermarket operator Ahold USA, have trained their pharmacists to be diabetes specialists.
Retail pharmacists are a key component of the nation’s healthcare system and widely regarded as the most accessible healthcare professionals. There are no community pharmacies without "community," and there’s little reason why they shouldn’t be involved in broader efforts to combat diabetes.
‘World Class’ in session at WAG U
Walgreens on Friday opened the doors to "Walgreens University,” an internal education center equipped with technology-enhanced classrooms, a mock drug store and video-conferencing capabilities. The new learning center will be the base of operations for employee educational programs offered online and in regional locations nationwide.
Competing in the new age of retail, where bricks, clicks and anything in between compete for a larger share of the omnichannel customer, will require new skill sets and a generally better educated workforce at every level of the organization, but particularly at the store level. The winners will create a more personalized shopping experience that leverages the expertise in its stores. It will continue to create new positions in the store — health guides, more beauty advisors, more advanced roles for pharmacists and pharmacy technicians.
By doubling its investment in employee training, Walgreens is acknowledging what other world-class companies have come to acknowledge. U. S. companies overall increased spending on training and development 12% last year — the highest growth rate in eight years, according to research from Bersin by Deloitte, a human resources consulting firm. That’s a reverse of recession-year spending in 2008 and 2009, when such investments dropped by 11% both years.