Pharmacy as a Positive Disruptive Innovation

Pharmacy has the potential to produce new ways of delivering health care that will help lower costs.

Recently, NACDS Chief Executive Officer Steven Anderson described pharmacy as a “disruptive innovation” because it is producing new ways of delivering health care that help to lower costs. He went on to say that “if we position community pharmacy effectively as the face of neighborhood health care, this industry will emerge as a disruptive innovator and will create a positive long-term impact on health care delivery and for the good of patients.”

I agree that community pharmacy has that potential, but right now most community pharmacists work in a silo, are not integrated into a team with other health professionals, and thus their interventions are not appreciated by the patient’s other providers. In fact, the community pharmacist is often seen as a competitor rather than a team member. Until we find a way to become part of a system, whether virtual or live, we will have a hard time being perceived as positive disruptive innovation, I believe.

When I started in pharmacy, I was told by my professors that you need to market your services, so go visit your local MDs, get to know them, and let them know what you can do for their patients. Maybe we need to start marketing our “disruptive innovations” to other health team members in our community today. I do see some small signs that pharmacists are trying to become more integrated into the system rather than continuing to practice in the “splendid isolation” of the prescription counter—and they now want to be more accessible to patients. Sometimes change comes slower than we would like but I think it is happening. What do you think?