Community Pharmacists Evolve in New Era of Health Care

Panelists discuss how community pharmacists are well-positioned for the new value-driven model of health care.

Panelists discuss how community pharmacists are well-positioned for the new value-driven model of health care.

During an Industry Insights Breakfast Roundtable following the 2014 Next-Generation Pharmacist™ Awards, 2 expert panels moderated by Troy Trygstad, PharmD, MBA, PhD, director of the Network Pharmacist Program and Pharmacy Projects for Community Care of North Carolina and co-editor of the Pharmacy Times series, Directions in Pharmacy, discussed how community pharmacists are well-positioned for the new value-driven model of health care.

“Pharmacists are collaborators interested in continuity, not fragmentation, and community pharmacists are the best example of that,” said Fred Eckel, RPh, MS, Editor-in-Chief of Pharmacy Times, in the first “Community Pharmacists Bridging the Touch Gap” session. “I’m part of what I hope is an evolutionary process to include pharmacists as part of the solution to the current health care crisis.”

According to Joe Moose, PharmD, of Moose Pharmacy in Concord, North Carolina, community pharmacists see a patient much more frequently than any other health care provider, at an average of 35 times a year. However, Parata CEO Tom Rhoads noted that user studies have indicated patients would “rather not be in the store to talk about their disease state.”

“When you interact with patients, are you recognizing the fact that they don’t want to be sick?” Rhoads asked. “With the notion that patients don’t want to feel sick, how do you enable engagement? Technology is going to have to do that…and the best health technology solutions will understand consumer interactions and ask them to do less.”

In shifting to a population health management mentality, Dr. Moose said community pharmacists need to “change our mindset from worrying about the patient filling that prescription to worrying about all our patients all the time; think about the 29 days the patient isn’t in the pharmacy, not a 3-minute encounter that happens one time a month.”

To do so, Dr. Moose said community pharmacies are relying on technologies that help them stay connected with patients when they are not in the store.

According to the panelists of the second “Medication Management’s Role in the Post-Health Reform Era” session, such technologies include quality measures that community pharmacists can leverage to track and ensure safe medication use and drug adherence across their patient populations.

Still, Sam Stolpe, PharmD, director of strategic initiatives for Pharmacy Quality Alliance, said the “measures in the current marketplace don’t tie together the health care professions…and we don’t have signals for drug therapy failures.”

Despite the lack of such measures, James F. Fries, MD, of the Stanford University School of Medicine, noted that “pharmacists have access to patients that is needed to provide most important part of behavior change: reinforcement.”

“Doctors don’t get enough touches (with patients), and when they do, they don’t have enough time to talk about medications,” Dr. Fries said. “What we need is a single number entered every year for every body that shows the activity levels of daily living…but we don’t have such an index.”

Looking forward to future interventions for issues like drug adherence and safe medication use, Tom Hubbard, vice president of pharmacy research at NEHI, said his “gut sense is that they’re going to need to be as easy on the patient as possible—even invisible to the patient,” similar to today’s e-prescribing methods.