Pharmacists continue to show their value to healthcare system
WHAT IT MEANS AND WHY IT’S IMPORTANT The evidence keeps piling up.
(THE NEWS: Pharmacist-patient relationships improve health, lower costs of care, UNC-Kerr study reveals. For the full story, click here)
Community pharmacy has demonstrated, over and over, and with remarkable consistency, that retail pharmacists bring real value to the healthcare system.
Aslew of pilot programs built around specific patient populations and specific disease states have shown that pharmacists, working in collaboration with local physicians and with the support of forward-thinking health-plan payers, can influence patient behavior, improve medication adherence and health outcomes, and save those payers money.
Given those findings, it’s high time the managed care industry – and the public and private health plan sponsors that pay the bills –– recognized that fact and adapted the nation’s cash-strapped, frayed healthcare system to reflect a new and more cost-efficient paradigm. The shift would align perfectly with the effort already underway by the White House and by many health-plan stakeholders to scrap the broken, fee-for-service payment model that still dominates the U.S. healthcare system –– a system that has driven healthcare costs to unsustainable levels –– and to adopt a new and more sensible payment model, based on evidence that a treatment plan is actually helping the patient.
Collaborative care, pharmacist interventions and payer-sponsored MTM services fit perfectly with that new model.
Projects demonstrating the health and cost-saving value of pharmacist interventions date back at least a decade, to the inception of the groundbreaking and still-active Asheville Project. The latest comes from Kerr Drug –– North Carolina’s scrappy, 90-store clinical pharmacy and retail health innovator –– and its project partner, the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. It’s an ideal match: both the drug chain and the school have had a close working partnership since Kerr opened its first patient-care center at its drug store in Chapel Hill more than a decade ago.
The results of the study, titled “Retrospective analysis of community pharmacists’ recommendations in the North Carolina Medicaid medication therapy management program,” were published in the May/June 2010 issue of the Journal of the American Pharmacists Association. What it showed was that Kerr pharmacists saved the state’s Medicaid program nearly $10,000 by engaging a group of just 88 Medicaid beneficiaries in MTM and tracking their prescription utilization and progress.
Just think what the federal government –– not to mention employers and other health-plan sponsors –– could save by expanding such programs to millions of patients. Let’s hope someone in the payer community is paying attention.
Independent pharmacies tap into long-term care market with new center
DENVER Healthcare services company Cardinal Health will work with the American Society of Consultant Pharmacies to help independent retail pharmacies tap into the long-term care market, Cardinal said Thursday.
According to statistics from 2008, the number of adults in the United States needing nursing home or assisted living care is expected to be 20 million by 2050. Officially launched at Cardinal’s Retail Business Conference in Denver this week, the Long Term Care Specialized Care Center will give independents access to long-term care field specialists, discounts on the ASCP’s policy and procedure manuals and continuing education courses and market analyses.
“Many independent pharmacists want to start serving the high-growth long-term care market, but doing so requires a specialized knowledge base and skill set,” Cardinal VP market management and product development Jay Williams said. “That’s why we’ve partnered with ASCP – the recognized expert in geriatric pharmacotherapy – to provide our customers with the education and building blocks they need to immediately start serving the medication needs of the long-term care facilities in their communities.”
GSK joins the National Pharmaceutical Council
WASHINGTON British drug maker GlaxoSmithKline is the latest company to join health policy research organization the National Pharmaceutical Council, the NPC announced Thursday.
Established in 1953, the NPC sponsors and conducts scientific analyses of the use of drugs with support from drug companies. GlaxoSmithKline SVP private, public and institutional customers Jack Bailey will serve as the company’s representative on the NPC’s board of directors.
“As the nation moves forward with the implementation of healthcare reform, NPC’s research provides policy makers and implementers with keen insight on comparative effectiveness research and health-and-wellness issues,” Bailey said. “I welcome the opportunity to work with NPC and its staff as they move forward with these and other research areas impacting the pharmaceutical industry.”