New Questions for Pharmacists in the Health Care System [article]

Am J Pharm Educ. 2014;78(2)1: “The pharmacy profession is determining how it will become a vital part of new health care models such as accountable care organizations (ACOs) and patient-centered medical homes (PCMHs). Pharmacists must be prepared to demonstrate their value in these emerging health care models by improving the quality of care, reducing health care costs, and enhancing patient access and satisfaction. The health care decision makers will require demonstration of value, framed in business language, using new measures of outcomes quite different from what have been used in the past for pharmacy services. Colleges and schools of pharmacy should take on the task of developing these new measures demonstrating pharmacist value in collaborative care delivery, and instruct students in how they will need to demonstrate their value in new health care models.

Interesting view from the authors. I’m not opposed to calling for colleges of pharmacy to develop measures to determine the value of pharmacists, but I would caution those developing these measures to learn from others. Physicians defined their measures and outcomes long ago and are paying for it dearly now. Pharmacists should not seek to mimic such a model, i.e. valued on the number of interactions, patients seen, and billable events.

The time for proving that pharmacists can actively participate in patient care is past. The data is there, but the profession continues to think that providing even more data will flip a switch that will instantly make pharmacists a valued member of the healthcare team. That’s not likely to happen, even in the data-driven healthcare environment of today. Pharmacists are viewed quite differently from physicians and other direct patient care providers like nurse practitioners, and rightly so. As pharmacists continue to fight for “provider status” they should consider carefully the end goal of such a fight.

Let’s not forget what pharmacy is all about. Pharmacy is about providing the safest, most effective, cost conscious therapy possible. That doesn’t necessarily equate to “provider status”.  What happens when the primary concern of our profession is no longer pharmaceutical care? Who will provide such expertise when pharmacists no longer concern themselves with such things? I do not recommend living in the past, but I do recommend thinking long and hard about the future of the profession.

Go read the entire article, it’s only a few paragraphs long. I’d love to hear your thoughts.

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  1. Joseph T. DiPiro and Robert E. Davis (2014). New Questions for Pharmacists in the Health Care System. American Journal of Pharmaceutical Education: Volume 78, Issue 2, Article 26. doi: 10.5688/ajpe78226

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