An evolving pharmacy practice started with the the owners' vision, and worked backwards to become a reality.
I was recently asked by a colleague about my practice and, in particular, how did my business partner and I have the forethought to transform our practice that focuses on patient care, clinical outcomes, and collaboration with other providers—all things necessary for success in today’s rapidly evolving healthcare system. My answer was simple—we saw it!
The practice that we have developed did not come to be by being reactive to the marketplace or changes in reimbursement, but rather 20 years ago—as colleagues at a college of pharmacy, we began discussing our future practice—what it looked like, services we would provide, and how we would free-up the pharmacists to focus on patient care and outcomes. In other words, we started with the end in mind (our vision) and worked backwards to create the environment that would be conducive to making our vision our reality. A simple concept, a powerful tool, and yet often overlooked and not routinely practiced.
Over the years, I have learned about the power of a vision through various leadership courses or books that I have taken. As I was reviewing the pharmacy literature on this topic, I came across an article that summed up the key points to creating a professional practice vision.1
My vision for my future practice started in my first year of pharmacy school when I read about Eugene White transforming his community pharmacy practice into a patient-oriented office practice. He was doing things in his practice that I had never experienced or even thought about—until then. Back then it was clear to me that the pharmacist’s role was much more than product fulfillment. I envisioned a community practice where pharmacist’s participated in a collaborative effort with other health care providers to optimize patients’ therapeutic outcomes with safe and effective medications. In my vision, technicians were key to freeing up pharmacists by overseeing the dispensing functions. The pharmacists in my future practice had documentation tools that were effective and efficient, and could be used in all aspects of the practice—dispensing and patient care services. My future practice had a sufficient number of pharmacists and technicians so that all patients would receive the care and oversight of pharmacists. The pharmacy had patient care areas where the pharmacist could have sit down discussions with patients whenever needed. My future vision had payers recognizing our efforts and the impact it had on patient outcomes so much so that they would pay us to care for patients—not just dispensing a medication.
This year I have celebrated my 31st year as a pharmacist. I have seen many changes in the profession, a complete overhaul of our health care system, and a radical change in how we are reimbursed. The one thing that did not change in those 30 years was my vision. I have created the practice that I envisioned so many years ago that was influenced by Eugene White. I ended my conversation with my colleague friend that the 1 part of the vision that was the most rewarding to me was my work with a major payer—demonstrating our value as pharmacists.
1. White SJ. Your professional practice vision. Am J Health-Syst Pharm. 66:1432-1435. 2009.