NACDS' New Senior VP Talks about the Future of Community Pharmacy

Kathleen Jaeger talks about how community pharmacy can help improve patient health, and the role pharmacy should play in evolving care paradigms.

Pharmacy Times recently spoke with Kathleen Jaeger about her new position as senior vice president of pharmacy care and patient advocacy at NACDS, and president of the NACDS Foundation. In her role, Jaeger will serve as a spokesperson for pharmacy patient care before key constituencies and target audiences, and will direct the staff of the Pharmacy Care and Patient Advocacy Department, which advances pharmacy information and research, conducts outreach with NACDS members and with external constituencies including colleges and schools of pharmacy, and provides pharmacy insights and expertise that contribute to NACDS’ public policy advocacy and communications initiatives. Read below to learn about her plans for the new role, and how she wants community pharmacy to be positioned in the evolving health care paradigm.

Congratulations on being named senior VP of pharmacy care and patient advocacy for NACDS. What does the new position entail and what are the primary goals you hope to accomplish?

KJ: This particularly role is very exciting to me because of the enormous capacity for community pharmacy to improve the lives of patients and their families. Community pharmacy provides unsurpassed value to the healthcare system and to the patients we serve today, and we’re looking at really more innovative pharmacy care and service models tomorrow. And so the key goals of this job will be heighten awareness among consumers, policymakers, and stakeholders, about the tremendous value—the critical value—that community pharmacy care delivers to patients and to the healthcare system.

PT: How do you plan to raise awareness of the importance of community pharmacists?

KJ: I think it’s going to entail working with others in the health care community; looking for opportunities for community pharmacy to be involved in some of the evolving health care delivery systems—ensuring that when physicians are putting together a group, that they’re also thinking of their partners, the community pharmacists, through collaborations that can enhance patient outcomes and really improve the lives of those patients. And at the same time, providing quality care but also significantly reducing healthcare costs. It will entail sitting down and looking at all the opportunities across the board and going out there and really raising awareness. I think NACDS has done a fantastic job already in community pharmacy, but I think it really needs to step up to the next level, as [NCPA President and CEO] Steven Anderson said.

With the healthcare system changing and evolving every day, we need to be out there, and we really need to heighten our efforts in this regard. We need to be looking at all the potential areas in which we can communicate the value and the importance of medication adherence to millions of Americans, at the same time educating them about health and wellness programs and immunizations, and getting out that message at a very high level.

PT: Pharmacists have started to assume a larger role in chronic disease management. Is this a key opportunity for patients to work collaboratively with community pharmacists to improve their overall health?

KJ: Absolutely. Whether it’s disease state management or other initiatives, but working with the patient’s physician and really working collaboratively to improve the health of that patient is critical. As we all know, chronic disease care is one of the biggest areas in health care, and one of the key factors in that is the fact that many patients do not take their medications as prescribed. They don’t fill their prescriptions, they take them inappropriately, or they just don’t adhere to their medication regimes. And having pharmacists sit down and work with patients and their families, as well as physicians and others in the healthcare system, to ensure and really educate those patients to get them to really improve their outcomes, is a win for everyone. It’s a win for that patient and it’s a win for the healthcare system. And so it’s really something we want to drive toward.

PT: As health care reform starts to take shape, do you see it as one of NACDS’ primary goals to continue to educate patients about the role of the community pharmacist in improving patient health?

KJ: Absolutely, and again, that’s what’s so critical about this initiative. As things are evolving in health care, we want to be an integral component to that new health care model. Whether it’s that patient-centered health care model, or a new, evolving health care delivery system, we want to be to front and center as a key partner in improving the health of patients, together with other stakeholders. And at the same time, it’s about making sure that patients understand and really are educated on all the initiatives and services and care that are available at community pharmacy today, and as more innovative care services come out, getting the word out about those as well. And it’s right there in the community—they don’t have to leave. It’s right there, it’s very accessible, and it provides good, quality care, and at the same time, it’s going to reduce overall healthcare costs.

PT: You were also named president of NACDS Foundation, which focuses heavily on helping students to advance. Do you have any advice or words of wisdom to offer pharmacy students or those who are entering pharmacy school?

KJ: They picked a career that allows them to make a meaningful difference in the lives of the patients that they serve. This is a tremendous opportunity for tomorrow’s health care professionals to realize that the care paradigm is shifting and they play an absolutely critical role in that, and for them to understand that they have this great opportunity in front of them to make a difference. They should strive to find opportunities as they look to the future of going into community pharmacy and making that difference.

When they are looking at all of their future opportunities, it is important for them to know that this really is an opportunity for them to utilize their clinical and their patient skills in the community setting. It really will be meaningful and rewarding, and it’s something that they really seriously should consider.

This is the new patient-focused paradigm of health care, and even though it’s evolving and there is a lot of uncertainty, it ultimately will provide an opportunity for them to make a meaningful difference in providing quality patient care and helping their families.