Taking Notice of Pharmacists

JUNE 23, 2014
Mike Hennessy
It’s pretty powerful stuff when you start seeing the mainstream media taking real notice of the extremely important role pharmacists can play in reducing health care costs—and potentially saving this country billions of dollars. It’s about time, too.

In a recent “Rocket Science Meets Brain Surgery” column for Forbes, Robert J. Szczerba says something about pharmacists that shouldn’t be difficult to understand for anyone who knows the true value of the community pharmacist. What may sound like “hot news” to Forbes readers is old news to us, but we welcome the fact that the following is being recognized: “The pharmacist is rapidly becoming the newest member of your personal health care team.”

That certainly has a nice ring to it. Szczerba explains the importance of placing the pharmacist front and center with patients through proven medication therapy management (MTM). As he points out, “As most patients in the American health care system know, it’s gotten harder and harder to maintain regular, detailed communication with your doctor. At least in terms of medication, pharmacists have begun to address this gap through regular, direct contact with their patients.”

In fact, MTM can be seen as an extremely effective way to get to the root of the problem of spiraling health care costs. That would include reducing hospital readmissions for patients on complicated medication regimens. By placing control in the hands of medication experts who can triage the problems of medication adherence through their medication expertise, counseling skills, and reliable access in the community, pharmacists can make a big contribution.

As Szczerba says, “Meet the newest member of your personal health care team.” That would be the pharmacist.

The dollars are huge. The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services estimates that the cost of readmitting patients due to adverse effects, nonadherence, and unsuccessful medication therapies is in the billions—on the order of $17.5 annually—and is most likely on the rise.

A new study focusing on the dollars and sense of utilizing pharmacists’ MTM interventions (see www.pharmacytimes.com/news/MTM-Reduces-Hospitalizations-for-Some-Home-Health-Patients) demonstrates what more people are realizing. MTM is a smart way to go in today’s fast-paced health care environment. All health care professionals need to take a closer look at who can bring what skill sets to the table. The study author sees MTM as a powerful tool for keeping patients out of hospitals and reducing costs, all thanks to the services of pharmacists. Powerful stuff.

The Forbes columnist concludes, “A serious conversation about MTM is worth having. It addresses existing problems in our health care system with a new approach, and evidence is emerging that it works.” We couldn’t agree more.

Thank you for reading!

Mike Hennessy
Chairman
Chairman/Chief Executive Officer

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