Pharmacists: Partner with Physicians on Chronic Care to Better Manage Patients


It is important for pharmacists to position themselves as the health experts that can help patients with chronic conditions, and as the experts on the Medicare payment codes that can benefit both physician and pharmacist.

Partnering with a physician to deliver chronic care can be an important way for pharmacists to not only better service patents, but also derive additional revenue, according to a presentation at the National Community Pharmacy Association (NCPA) meeting held earlier today in Boston.

Amina Abubakar, PharmD, and Olivia Bentley, PharmD, who are the owner and a director of clinical services, respectively for RX Clinic Pharmacy, explained in a session at the NCPA 2018 Annual Convention that it is important for pharmacists to position themselves as the health experts that can help patients with chronic conditions, and as the experts on some newer programs that could financially benefit both parties.

"Look at productivity, how much work are you doing, how much are you willing to get used to" Abubakar said. "It's a clinical pharmacy agreement, not a collaborative agreement. This is a clinical service, if you can do MTM, it’s very similar to what you’re already doing."

The 'it' that Abubakar referred to is chronic care management, for example, following patients with diabetes on a regular bases to make sure that they are adhering with their medication regimens, and that they are staying healthy as a result.

These clinical services are even more advantageous, Abubakar noted, because recent programs have come on the scene that enable pharmacists not only to offer these types of services, but actually get paid for doing them.

One such program that was specifically mentioned during the keynote discussion at NCPA is the CPESN® Networks, which broadens pharmacist capacity for care management and medication optimization services, especially to those in greatest need of these services. According to information from the website, "these networks are part of grants funded by the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Innovation (CMMI) to test new reimbursement models for community pharmacies serving Medicaid and Medicare, dually eligible people, and are based on based on collaborative care models in which community pharmacists are active and integrated participants of a medical home."

In his keynote address, NCPA President David Smith said that through these networks, pharmacists "have created the incentive to move pharmacy in a direction that will benefit patients and our bottom lines, adapting to the changing needs, and that means being part of a clinically integrated network of providers, to provide great patient care and better outcome...We’re not trying to replace the physicains we’re just stepping up and being part of team that continues integrated care and enhanced services that have been proven to improve the health of chronically ill patients in particular."

Abubakar and Bentley said knowing about these programs and how the reimbursement models work offer pharmacists a good and unique way in pitching partnerships with area physicans.

Bentley encouraged pharmacists to offer working in the physician's office 1 or 2 days a week for chronic care clinical services, and she said, "don’t be afraid to talk to the providers that have a lot of doctors because they may need you even more."

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