Reimbursement Models That Reward Pharmacist Commitment to Care During Health Crises is Critical for the Future
Pharmacy Times® interviewed Nancy Lyons, BSPharm, MBA, CDE, vice president and chief pharmacy officer for Health Mart, and Pete Slone, senior vice president of public affairs for McKesson, on the importance of payment models that reward pharmacists’ commitment to patient services during the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) pandemic and how this is critical to consider for the future of the field.
The discussion included Lyons’ and Slone’s thoughts on the primary points of focus in the field of pharmacy as we head into 2021, as well as how lessons learned from 2020 that may help inform the future of the field of pharmacy.
Lyons explained that she has spent a lot of time mentoring pharmacists in her career, and for this reason, she has reflected on how events from 2020 will impact the professional future of pharmacists in the field.
“I think the biggest lesson that I'd like all of us to take into the future is that when we are given the opportunity, pharmacists consistently deliver quality patient care for the good of the patients, who are often our neighbors,” Lyons said. “We often do it without quibbling about payment initially, but that's not sustainable. So, we need to come to the table, we need to reward [that work], and I don't mean that in a purely financial [way], but we need to recognize what pharmacists have done consistently, not only with COVID-19, but also in H1N1. We stepped up, we took care of it, and then we went back about our lives taking care of our patients, our neighbors, whomever that is.”
Lyons explained that the COVID-19 pandemic has highlighted the extent to which pharmacists can collaborate with other members of the health care system in order to elevate patient care when it’s needed most.
“If we can enhance the care that patients receive during normal times as well as we have during these extraordinary times, we're just going to thrive, the nation is going to thrive,” Lyons said. “Although some might be concerned about [pharmacists’] expanded roles, it is going to be better for everyone in all professions when pharmacists get the recognition that we so deserve.”
Slone also noted that the events of 2020 have underscored the important role the pharmacy plays in continuity of care as well.
“I think that has come to be discovered by many stakeholders, policy makers, and policy influencers in ways that had never been understood before,” Slone said. “But now we need to translate that into appropriate payment for those services and sustain those policies well on into the future. And again, have that serve as a springboard for helping policymakers really rethink the far more holistic integrated approach to patient care that pharmacists as an integral partner can enable.”
Lyons and Slone also discussed how further lessons learned from 2020 can help inform the way the role of the pharmacist is viewed within the health care system.