HEALTH

Once again, study results underscore need for broader role of pharmacy

BY Jim Frederick

WHAT IT MEANS AND WHY IT’S IMPORTANT Add another plank to the increasingly solid platform that supports pharmacy’s long-standing fight for a full seat at the healthcare table.

(THE NEWS: ASHP: Healthcare teams with pharmacists improve patient care. For the full story, click here)

Anew health-outcomes study — this one from the American Society of Health-System Pharmacists — yet again demonstrates the unmet potential of community pharmacy as its leaders work to convince policy-makers and health plan payers that pharmacists can do far more than dispense drugs, provide basic counseling and monitor drug interactions. When published in the October edition of the journal Medical Care, the study will add to the growing mountain of evidence supporting pharmacy’s longstanding argument that it brings improved patient outcomes and real cost savings to a fractured healthcare system in dire need of solutions.

The ASHP study, called “US Pharmacists’ Effect as Team Members on Patient Care: Systematic Review and Meta-Analyses,” analyzed the impact on patient health and safety of numerous interventions by pharmacists. Researchers cast a wide net, tracking the results of dozens of pharmacy-care initiatives by reviewing nearly 300 articles and professional papers on the topic.

It was a worthwhile documentation project. Looking at the overall impact of pharmacist interventions and integrated-care programs from the 30,000-ft. level, ASHP found a clear pattern: Community pharmacists working in concert with other members of a patient’s healthcare team can make a big difference in healthier patients and reduced health costs.

One example: An analysis of those many interventions and disease-management efforts found that patients who worked with their pharmacist were 47% less likely to suffer an adverse drug event. And early 90% of studies tracking pharmacists’ impact on managing hemoglobian A1c showed favorable results.

Industry leaders at last week’s National Association of Chain Drug Stores 2010 Pharmacy and Technology Conference made impassioned pleas on behalf of a broader role for pharmacy in a new, reformed U.S. healthcare system. Among them was NACDS president and CEO Steve Anderson, who noted that the pharmacy profession and industry are undergoing a “historic paradigm change” as pharmacists and pharmacy leaders expand their patient-care and clinical capabilities and provide new solutions to a “broken” healthcare system undergoing rapid change.

Also issuing a call to action at the San Diego event was NACDS chairman and CVS/pharmacy president Larry Merlo. “We must ensure that the value of the pharmacy industry and its pharmacists are recognized by payer reimbursement policies — not just for the products we sell but for the services we provide,” Merlo told NACDS members. “We’re positioned to help control the costs of health care by advocating for the value of … pharmacy care.”

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NCPA launches PharmacyMatching.com

BY Allison Cerra

ALEXANDRIA, Va. In an effort to connect independent pharmacy owners looking to sell their pharmacies and those who seek to purchase them, the National Community Pharmacists Association launched a new website that unites the two.

PharmacyMatching.com  helps pharmacists navigate every step of the entrepreneurial process from buying to selling a pharmacy, as part of the association’s focus on increasing the number of independent community pharmacy owners throughout the country, NCPA said. 

“Now more than ever, the future of community pharmacy depends on the successful transition of ownership to independent owners,” said NCPA president and pharmacy owner Joseph Harmison. “NCPA wants to be independent pharmacy’s source for matching buyers and sellers to keep independents independent.”

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ASHP: Healthcare teams with pharmacists improve patient care

BY Allison Cerra

BETHESDA, Md. A new study funded by the American Society of Health-System Pharmacists underscored the role healthcare-team pharmacists have in improving health care in the United States.

The study, “US Pharmacists’ Effect as Team Members on Patient Care: Systematic Review and Meta-Analyses,” available online and set to be published in the October edition of Medical Care, examined the effect of pharmacist-provided direct patient care on therapeutic, safety and humanistic outcomes. The study, led by Marie Chisholm-Burns, a professor and department head at the University of Arizona College of Pharmacy, reviewed nearly 300 articles and found that:

  • Patients were 47% less likely to experience an adverse drug event when a pharmacist was involved in their care;
  • Pharmacist interventions also significantly improved outcomes when pharmacists were involved in disease management, particularly for patients with diabetes, hypertension and high cholesterol; and
  • Nearly 90% of studies tracking pharmacists’ impact on managing hemoglobian A1c showed favorable results; 84% of the studies focused on managing blood pressure; 82% of studies looking at managing high cholesterol showed favorable results.

“We have to get this message out to the public,” Chisholm-Burns said. “It’s so important for patients to understand how pharmacists can help them manage their chronic diseases and be as healthy as possible.”

Additional findings highlighting pharmacists’ impact on economic outcomes will be published in October in the American Journal of Health-System Pharmacy.

“This important study clearly demonstrates the valuable role pharmacists play in patient care,” said ASHP CEO Henri Manasse, Jr. “The findings are particularly relevant as policy-makers begin to implement innovative care models included in the new healthcare-reform law, like the medical home model, where patients can benefit from the medication expertise of pharmacists.”

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