/publications/issue/2010/June2010/PubLetter-0610

From the Publisher: The Health Care Economy: How Will the Pharmacist Fare?

Author: Mike Hennessy



A recent economic report indicated that private sector hiring is slowing down sharply, a result of a slower than expected recovery. Yet, the health care sector is experiencing an upswing in hiring.

According to The Fiscal Times, there has not been a single month in the past decade when health care providers as a group did not increase employment opportunities for the American public.

In May, ambulatory care settings created 8700 new jobs, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, and health care as a whole added 13,100 new jobs. Those are encouraging numbers.

But is health care “bulletproof” when it comes to jobs? Will this industry help pull the country out of the economic crisis? That is a difficult thing to predict, but the answer likely depends on the economy as a whole, the speed of implementation of the ObamaCare model, and regional factors.

For example, Pennsylvania is carrying out the largest state pilot program in the country, called the Chronic Care Initiative, to offer patients a more coordinated care model. In this patient-centered medical home, there has been job growth in the 800 or so doctors’ offices that are implementing this innovative approach. The goal of the program, which involved more than 1 million patients, is to manage workflow and use staff “more intelligently.”

While this pilot program offers a glimpse into how coordinated care can evolve in the future, how will the pharmacist’s unique role be used in the model? And how can pharmacists be employed to improve medication adherence—ultimately reducing costs—as state and federal governments assume a larger role in providing health care? On one hand, if access to insurance improves under the health overhaul, opportunities for pharmacists will increase accordingly. But what if, as I believe it will, ObamaCare creates major disruptions in insurance coverage, reimbursement, and continuity of care, particularly for the senior population? How will the pharmacist’s role change?

With so many factors at play in determining the state of the pharmacy job market, Pharmacy Times has brought our readers an in-depth look at the pharmacy job market as we see it now. The number of new pharmacy graduates has risen steeply since 2000—from 7000 to over 10,000 in 2008—a factor that will certainly affect the future job market. For this and other trends, a look at where the jobs are now, and what the future may look like for the pharmacy profession, see our article “Pharmacy Job Trends: Adapting to Today’s Market” on page 57. We will be keeping a close eye on the impacts of health care reform on you, your profession, and your patients.

This issue of Pharmacy Times is our annual look at women’s health, and our informative articles include our cover story “Conception Challenges: Insights into Infertility” on page 28. We are especially proud to present a new “look” to our journal, the most authoritative, practical, and wide-ranging information source for the pharmacist. Tell us what you think, and thank you for reading!



Mike Hennessy