NACDS Reacts to Wall Street Journal Op-Ed, Hails Pharmacy's Role in Patient-Centered Care

Published Online: Friday, February 22, 2013
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February 22, 2013

Arlington, Va.--The principles of “disruptive innovation” will play a major role in improving patient health and healthcare delivery, and community pharmacies stand uniquely positioned to build on success in achieving these goals, National Association of Chain Drug Stores (NACDS) President and CEO Steven C. Anderson, IOM, CAE, told The Wall Street Journal this week.  

Anderson wrote to the newspaper in response to an op-ed in the February 19 edition by “the father of disruptive innovation” – Clayton Christensen, author, Harvard Business School professor and co-founder of Innosight Institute – and two of his colleagues.  

Disruptive innovation refers to a breakthrough that makes a product available to a broad population of people that previously were unable to access it due to affordability or complexity.  Based on this theory, Christensen and his colleagues, Jeffrey Flier and Vineeta Vijayaraghavan, outlined in The Wall Street Journal specific goals for efforts to improve healthcare delivery, and suggested that accountable care organizations (ACOs) would not succeed without a focus on those goals.

“On one hand, their recommendations for healthcare ring truer than true.  They can and should guide the successful implementation of reform,” Anderson wrote.  “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.  And NACDS members and pharmacy are leading the way.”

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.”

Regarding the authors’ call for healthcare professionals to practice at the height of their license, Anderson said, “While community pharmacies are best known for helping patients 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.  These services include vaccinations, health screenings and education, and more.”

He said that the role of community pharmacists in helping patients take their medications correctly and safely continues to gain recognition.  Anderson noted the interim report on a study by the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services, released earlier this month that describes reduced prescription drug costs and hospitalization costs among patients with certain heart and lung conditions who were newly enrolled in a Medicare Part D medication therapy management (MTM) program in 2010.

He also noted efforts underway at the state level to modernize policies to expand pharmacists’ vaccination authority to include younger children and additional vaccines.

Anderson also described additional opportunities to empower disruptive innovation for the benefit of patients.

“If there are areas in which the authors’ recommendations related to modernizing regulations and licensing statutes merit particular attention, two come to mind quickly.  There would be merit in classifying pharmacists as healthcare providers in the Social Security Act.  Doing so for the services of vaccinations and screenings would be a great start,” Anderson said.

“At the state level, progress also could be re-ignited in the area of collaborative practice agreements between physicians and pharmacists that allow pharmacists to perform some services related to medication therapy, tests and screenings, and ordering lab work.  Currently, 35 states allow such agreements in community pharmacy settings, and the most recent addition was Pennsylvania in 2010.  All of this has to do with healthcare collaboration in action, for the benefit of the patient and the physician.  A study by Duke University found that it would take 1,773 hours per year of the average doctor’s time to provide every service on the U.S. Preventive Service Task Force recommendations.  Pharmacists can help.”

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