Blogs: News & Views

Better Health Care: Turn to the Pharmacist

Published Online: Wednesday, March 20, 2013

In a recent article, Richard H. Thaler, a professor of economics and behavioral science at the Booth School of Business in Chicago, was extremely blunt about the state of our country's health care when he wrote, "Americans spend far more on health care than people in other countries and we have little to show for it. And as we live longer after retirement, the share that will be paid by the government will rise."

With the Affordable Care Act taking hold, health care providers from every corner are struggling to make sense of exactly how things will work, and that includes pharmacists who could and should become pivotal in the team approach of caring for patients. Still, there is no clear answer on how this is all going to work—or who will pay for it and how.

Entrepreneurial pharmacists, many from the independent, privately-owned sector of the profession, are tackling this new health care scene by jumping in their own communities and taking the lead with new services, offering a variety of health products, and establishing relationships with local health care professionals where there was little communication before. They should be applauded for their entrepreneurial spirit!

More new approaches will be needed going forward. Thaler has several suggestions worth thinking about. He suggests that the ideal health care delivery system would have a "fee for health" rather than "fee for service" model. This means we should pay health care professionals for keeping their patients well, rather than doing more tests or prescribing more medications. A second idea is to require a scientific, evidence-based approach to everything the health system offers—easier said than done, but it is the direction health care is moving in today.

Now comes the good news. Here is an economist who understands the value that pharmacists can bring to the table. He calls for "more employment of midlevel professionals like pharmacists, nurse practitioners and physician assistants, to give primary care physicians more time to talk to their patients. .  . many of these professionals are underused. A goal should be to allow all members of the health care team to work to the full extent of their expertise, something that is not currently the norm."

We agree. Let's make sense of how time and money is spent on health care and let's involve all health care professionals in their rightful role—and that certainly includes pharmarcists.

Thank you for reading!

Mike Hennessy
Chairman/Chief Executive Officer/President
About
Mike Hennessy, Chairman and CEO
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Mike Hennessy shares his views and perspectives on issues that affect pharmacists.
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ABOUT MIKE HENNESSY, President, Chairman, CEO

Mike Hennessy is President, Chairman, and CEO of MJH & Associates and Intellisphere, LLC, publisher of influential journals in health care, finance, and politics, including Pharmacy Times. Pharmacy Times is a clinically based, monthly journal providing practical information pharmacists can use in their everyday practice. Each issue contains articles and features covering medication errors, drug interactions, patient education, pharmacy technology, disease state management watches, patient counseling, product news, pharmacy law, and specialty pharmacy. Pharmacy Times is accredited by the Accreditation Council for Pharmacy Education (ACPE) as a provider of free continuing pharmacy education.

As a businessman, entrepreneur, and publisher of magazines, iPad editions, projects, and Web sites that focus on the needs of health care professionals, Hennessy is intimately familiar with the challenges these professionals face every day in today's competitive practice environment. News & Views: Hennessy's Highlights dissects health care policy issues, the impact of pharmacy on national health care, and the critical issues that concern pharmacists as the new health care reform legislation is debated.

As publisher of Pharmacy Times, Mr. Hennessy launched the Next-Generation Pharmacist Awards in partnership with Parata Systems, to recognize the achievements of pharmacists in health care. "As the leader in pharmacy publishing, Pharmacy Times is shining a light on the critical role of the pharmacist in today's health care world and providing invaluable insight into the profession," Mike Hennessy, chairman, chief executive officer, and president said. "We are proud to recognize individual pharmacists in this 2nd annual awards program."

Pharmacy Times is published by Intellisphere, LLC, a leading provider of health care publishing, research, information, and education. Operating within both traditional and digital media channels, Intellisphere serves the needs of health care professionals through an extensive suite of magazines, journals, e-mail databases, Web sites, events and personal meetings. Intellisphere reaches more than half a million health care professionals through Pharmacy Times, Specialty Pharmacy Times, The American Journal of Managed Care, The American Journal of Pharmacy Benefits, MDNG, HCPlive.com, Oncology & Biotech News, Oncology Net Guide, Contemporary Oncology, and Oncology Net Guide: Nurses' Edition.
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