June 11, 2013 (WASHINGTON, DC) — Pharmacists’ patient care services are “a very smart spend in Washington that pays off in a big way,” Jonathan G. Marquess, PharmD, CDE, CPT said at a House Community Pharmacy Caucus briefing on June 6 on Capitol Hill.
Marquess, a member of the APhA Board of Trustees, is co-owner of six Georgia pharmacies. The Caucus is co-chaired by Reps. Austin Scott (R—Ga.) and Peter Welch (D–Vt.).
“People on complex medications benefit from pharmacists’ services,” Marquess said. “The evidence proves … that when pharmacists are involved, patients benefit, both quality and safety are improved, and costs are lowered.”
If spending and outcomes are to be optimized, benefits and health-care systems must include pharmacists’ services in collaboration with other providers, Marquess said. Provider status under the Social Security Act is needed, he said, to ensure that patients have access to pharmacists’ services in federal (e.g., Medicare), state (e.g., Medicaid), and private insurance programs.
The APhA Board of Trustees has allocated $1.5 million toward a multifaceted, long-range effort by APhA and the profession to gain recognition for pharmacists’ role as health care providers (provider status). As medication experts, pharmacists play a critical role in the provision of patient care services, in collaboration with physicians and other providers on the health care team. Pharmacists’ patient care services have grown beyond functions tied to medication product and delivery. Many pharmacists are providing expanded service offerings such as medication monitoring, patient education, comprehensive medication reviews, coordination of medications during care transitions, prevention, wellness, and chronic disease management.
Marquess was the wrap-up speaker at the briefing. The National Community Pharmacists Association opened the session, followed by Walgreens (introduced by the National Association of Chain Drug Stores) and the American Society of Health-System Pharmacists. With APhA, these and other pharmacy organizations are working together to achieve provider status for pharmacists. APhA is also collaborating with ASHP on a Medication Management in Care Transitions Project. It seeks to improve patient outcomes and reduce readmissions by integrating pharmacists into the care of those moving from acute care to home.
Marquess emphasized that the provider status initiative is directed solely at putting pharmacists in a position to help patients. Provider status for pharmacists is a smart spend that pays because deployment of the nation’s 300,000 pharmacists has the potential to improve patients’ experiences, health care system efficiencies, and both patient and system costs.