Leading by Examples of Value over Volume

MARCH 26, 2017
Kirk McKay
At the American Pharmacists Association 2017 meeting, an inspiring and practical session titled “Leading by Example” showed how pharmacists can leverage their value to establish health care team partnerships (eg, with health systems and physician practices) and implement programs to win pharmacy “champions,” improve patient outcomes, and reduce health care costs.

The speakers were: Tripp Logan, PharmD, who is a Senior Quality Consultant with MedHere Today Consulting and Vice President of Logan & Seiler, Inc and Melissa Somma McGivney, PharmD, FAPhA, FCCP, who is an Associate Dean for Community Partnerships and Associate Professor at the University of Pittsburgh.

According to Logan, the market-driven shift from volume-focused to value-focused pharmacy is continuing at a rapid pace. For many pharmacists, being assessed by the value they bring can be frightening when they are used to being judged by the volume they produce.

Logan noted that prescription claims do not always reflect the value of the pharmacist. To emphasize his point, he cited one of his favorite Pharmacy Times articles: Opioid Prescriptions Decreasing, But Overdose Deaths Still Climbing.” As detailed in the article, decreasing the filling of opioid prescriptions was not improving patient outcomes. To make a difference in the opioid-abuse epidemic, pharmacists can show their value through patient care. “Pharmacists are an important, but often an underutilized, resource in the fight against prescription drug abuse,” said Jenna Ventresca, JD, associate director of health policy for the American Pharmacists Association, in a press release cited in the article. “Pharmacists work closely with patients to provide education about pain medications, improve pain management, and monitor for signs of abuse, misuse, and overdose.”

McGivney emphasized that pharmacists need “champion partners”—providers such as physicians, nurse practitioners, and physician assistants—who understand the value of pharmacists. Those providers learn it best when they collaborate with good pharmacists in patient care.

“There’s a difference between reimbursable and profitable,” said Logan, encouraging attendees to “show providers why a program is important to them, not why it is to you.”

Logan recommended that pharmacists invest in patient care management tools that fit their practice. “Trust your staff to create efficiency,” he added. “If it doesn’t fit, don’t force it. Listen to your team members. They can make or break an effort.” Pharmacists “don’t have to do everything. Just do what you do well!” said Logan. Creating a program just because you can may not be the best use of time and resources. That’s why the needs assessment phase is so important to building successful programs. McGivney added that clarity of vision is key when multiple leaders are working together to create change.

Although creating new programs and partnerships can seem daunting, McGivney encouraged attendees to start from where they are. Even small positive changes in your practice can grow exponentially and become examples by which you can lead your team and promote the value of pharmacists.

“Capturing patient stories can become a powerful tool,” said McGivney, emphasizing that a key part of implementing and improving programs and partnerships are data--documentation of changes. Critical data include patient encounters (volume), patient outcomes (value), quality outcomes, and practice efficiency.

In community pharmacies, these data may take the form of printed or video testimonials from patients or providers. Practices should then create marketing materials to highlight their story and build new mutually-beneficial partnerships with providers. “Become a student again, and learn as much as you can,” encouraged McGivney. “You’ll find [pharmacy] champions along the way.” They may be payers, health systems, hospitals, or physician practices.

 “Although the future of health care policy is uncertain right now, health care is expensive, and Americans are really ill,” said Logan. McGivney added that pharmacists take care of patients, which improves return on investment in any health care setting.

Logan T,  McGivney MS. Leading by Example. Presented at: American Pharmacists Association 2017 Annual Meeting & Exhibition. March 24-27, 2017. San Francisco.