New Year's Resolutions
Happy New Year! As I reflect on the past year and look forwardto 2005, it occurs to me that pharmacists have manyreasons to be optimistic. I am concerned, however, that mystudents and I continue to hear too many pharmacists complainabout the challenges they face. To be sure, pharmacistspracticing in hospitals and community settings are constantlyunder pressure to "do more with less,"but we continueto make progress.
Patient safety and qualityimprovement have remained apriority for health systems practice,and, coupled with nationalquality goals, hospitals can nowachieve greater reimbursementfor improving quality in specificsituations. I am encouragedabout the precedent, and pharmacistsshould be able to contributeto increasing reimbursementand get recognition fordoing so. Expanded enrollmentand the creation of more schoolsof pharmacy continue to producevery well trained pharmacists.Although the pharmacistshortage remains a challenge toovercome, it has stabilized andeven improved in some geographic areas.
Findings of studies continue to be published that reflectthe value of pharmacy practices to improve drug therapyoutcomes and reduce costs. I have watched my staff membersincrease their influence and effectiveness as they carefor their patients. Similarly, during my travels across NorthCarolina and the rest of the country, I have seen numerousexamples of creativity and innovation evolve within pharmacypractice. Even though the Medicare PrescriptionDrug, Improvement, and Modernization Act of 2003(MMA) was passed late that year, we have learned of thechallenges and opportunities it has created for pharmacypractitioners. As you know, one of the most significant provisionsof the MMA enables pharmacists to be reimbursedfor cognitive services related to chronic disease management.Hallelujah!
We continue to have a lot of work to do. We mustembrace the MMA, monitor the CMS proposals related to itsimplementation, and provide comments each time we aregiven that opportunity to ensure that it enables us to serveour patients well. We need to strive to constantly improveour practices and procedures tocreate a safer medication-useenvironment. We need to beadvocates for the use of new technologies,such as infusion pumpswith decision-support software,provider order entry, electronicprescribing, bar-code technologyapplications, and others that willenable improved patient care.Finally, we need to more consistentlycounsel patients (inpatientsand outpatients) regardingtheir use of medications toincrease compliance and improveoutcomes.
By now, many of us have madeNew Year's resolutions. Let mesuggest that each of us add severalof the following as issues thatwe commit ourselves to during 2005:
- Being proactive and writing CMS and our legislators toensure that MMA has its intended results
- Instead of complaining about our practices and profession,remembering what our societal commitment is,and becoming agents for change toward that end
- Mentoring at least 2 professional students so that theyhave a positive outlook on their future and their responsibilities
- Collaborating with other pharmacy practitioners toimprove patients'use of their medicines
Please feel free to add your own resolutions directedtoward your profession. We need each other to achieve ourmission. Happy New Year!