I’ve talked about this several times before in my post about The Future Of Pharmacists and in my whitepaper “Innovate Or Be Commoditized“, but I continue to believe that pharmacists can play a bigger role in healthcare (see also Pharmacists to Prescribe).
I know that people sometimes perceive my support for mail order and/or PBMs as anti-pharmacist, but they’re not. Even my criticism of independent pharmacies isn’t on the great work they do with patients but is focused on the tactics used to try to even the playing field.
But, one of the things I’ve been watching for is what are some early indicators of how pharmacists are crossing the chasm from being dispensing-focused to being core members of the care team.
I’ve seen several:
- A more outspoken push for pharmacist involvement in ACOs.
“I really think that CMS was remiss in not explicitly including the drug benefit in the Shared Savings model. Because the industry recognizes that it’s important, what we are seeing is that the people who are planning on participating in the ACOs are already reaching out to the PBMs to lean on them to develop programs. So by default, we will end up being participants in it indirectly versus directly…. It’s the most frequently used benefit. It’s hard to imagine that you’ll be able to have a successful ACO model without considering the effects of somebody involved in health outcomes.” Brit Pim, VP and general manager of the Medicare/Medicaid division of Express Scripts, Inc. (from Drug Benefit News)
- MTM moving from a required program in Medicare to an optional program for commercial populations.
The Academy of Managed Care Pharmacy (AMCP) recently conducted a survey of its members to get an update on current MTM programs being offered by payers. Out of 57 respondents — which included 43 health plans, six PBMs, five integrated delivery systems and three other organizations — only six reported using MTM programs for their commercial populations alone. Another 17 said they use MTM programs for both Medicare and commercial populations. (from Drug Benefit News)
- Continued focus on pharmacists and distribution of vaccines.
Immunizations are crucial to protecting patients from developing and dying from vaccine-preventable diseases, and in order to be successful, a team effort is required for all health care professionals to increase immunizations.29 Pharmacists are in a pivotal position to increase awareness about the importance of vaccinations and identify those patients who may benefit from specific vaccinations. By continually increasing awareness about the availability and importance of vaccinations, patients can make informed decisions to protect themselves and their family members. (Pharmacy Times article)
- The correlation between adherence and medical cost savings and ongoing focus on adherence as a critical issue. (see also post on 15 Things You Should Know About Medication Non-Adherence)
Up to 50 percent of chronically ill people stop taking their medication within the first year. Pharmacists understand many of the contributing factors, which range from cost and side effects to the inherent challenges of taking multiple medications, and can help address them. In fact, CVS Caremark research shows a pharmacist in a face-to-face setting is the most effective healthcare professional at encouraging patients to take medications as prescribed. (CVS Caremark press release)