Shaping the Future of Patient Care

Author: Steven C. Anderson, IOM, CAE

Steven C. Anderson,
IOM, CAE

Steven C. Anderson, IOM, CAE— Mr. Anderson is president and chief executive officer of the National Association of Chain Drug Stores (NACDS).

With the presidential election just a couple months away, there has been a lot of talk on both sides about "change." And when the next president and new Congress take office in January, one of the top issues on their agenda will be health care reform. Pharmacy is poised to play a significant role in shaping the future of patient care in America, and pharmacy students will be a large part of the future of our profession and industry.

For the past several years, NACDS has worked together with numerous pharmacyrelated stakeholders to develop new models for pharmacy care. Medication therapy management (MTM) is one example that can improve outcomes for patients with chronic diseases and reduce health care costs. Pharmacy practice models such as MTM offer rewarding opportunities for pharmacists, while creating more value for the profession.

Think about the impact that pharmacies can have. Failure to take medicines properly costs an estimated $177 billion annually, and poorly managed chronic diseases have a staggering human and economic price. A recent government report showed a dramatic rise in emergency department visits from 1996 to 2006. If we "unleash the power of pharmacy," however, we can improve adherence, control costs, and help reduce the need for emergency visits and catastrophic care. As health care costs spiral upward, innovative approaches that utilize the expertise of pharmacists are essential to creating genuine reform.

NACDS is sounding the drumbeat to demonstrate and quantify the value of pharmacy. This summer, we introduced NACDS? "Principles for Healthcare Reform." The principles highlight pharmacy?s ability to help improve the accessibility, affordability, and quality of patient care.

Without a doubt, "change" is coming. Now is a great time to embark on a career as a community pharmacist. Pharmacists, already critical to our health care system, can look forward to an even bigger and more fulfilling role.