Wasson Rallies NACDS Conference Attendees around Pharmacy's Future



August 26, 2012

Conference program emphasizes industry's vital role in new healthcare models

Wasson: "Our future has never been brighter ... our opportunity has never been greater"

Denver, Colo. — Speaking at the National Association of Chain Drug Stores (NACDS) Pharmacy & Technology Conference today, NACDS Chairman Greg Wasson, president and CEO of Walgreen Co., referenced the increasing number of pharmacy tours by public officials as a call to action for the entire industry.

“They do not come to see a pharmacy of today, they come to see where community pharmacy is headed. They leave very enthusiastic about the role community pharmacy can play in helping solve our country’s healthcare crisis,” he said. Wasson encouraged pharmacies to provide tours to decision-makers through the NACDS RxIMPACT grassroots advocacy program, and urged the continued advancement of pharmacy services that position the industry to play an ever-growing role in healthcare delivery.

Wasson said cited examples of community pharmacy’s efforts to expand its offerings, from evolving store concepts that emphasize health and wellness to enhancing pharmacists’ scope of services to include vaccinations, health screenings and medication therapy management (MTM).

“There’s enormous opportunity out there to evolve community pharmacy as an industry, to change the face of healthcare in this country and to advance the pharmacy profession,” Wasson said. “Our product used to be dispensing pills safely and efficiently, but today our product is that and much more. Our product is an outcome — an improved health outcome – that only a face-to-face encounter with a community pharmacist can accomplish.”

Wasson made his remarks in the context of an impressive Conference lineup that is bringing together healthcare opinion leaders and decision makers, and that reflects community pharmacy’s increasing stature amid discussions of healthcare’s future.

On Saturday, the Conference included a forum on community pharmacy’s role in patient-centered care models, which included some of the most influential thought leaders in changing healthcare dynamics. William Shrank, director of evaluation, Innovation Center, at the Center for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS), served on the panel.

In addition, Mark McClellan, director of the Engelberg Center for Health Care Reform at the Brookings Institution and formerly commissioner of the U.S. Food and Drug Administration and administrator of CMS, will deliver a keynote address during Monday’s business program.

The Conference program served to underscore Wasson’s point that the interest and expectations among policymakers are among the forces pulling pharmacy forward. He also noted that the country as a whole “wants our industry to step up and go where we all are striving to go.”

He said that, in addition to the forces pulling pharmacy forward, the industry is being pushed forward by those who would “commoditize not only our industry, but our profession, too…reducing the value of the patient-pharmacist relationship to the tactical part of the job — dispensing the pill.” Countering this, he described initial results of opinion research conducted by NACDS in August. “Let me share some statements from the survey that resonated most with the respondents,” Wasson said. “Pharmacies are highly accessible; Pharmacies are working to help improve the overall health of patients; Pharmacies are providing new innovative services; Pharmacists are trusted healthcare professionals; The value of the pharmacist-patient relationship is leading to a higher quality of life.”

Wasson’s message also has been bolstered by a continuing drumbeat of scientific studies, including several published recently. Of note, one study reported in the May/June 2012 Journal of the American Pharmacists Association found that hospital patients with multiple chronic medications had fewer hospital readmissions within 60 days of discharge when they received pharmacist interventions.

Wasson said of pharmacy’s focus on helping to meet the needs of tomorrow, “No one ever said this would be easy. Folks, our industry has its share of headwinds, but it’s also got some mighty tailwinds, too. Our future has never been brighter, and our opportunity has never been greater, to advance this great profession and the role we all know community pharmacy can play.”

In addition to previewing pharmacy future, Wasson also looked forward in his remarks to the August 2013 debut of the NACDS Total Store Expo.

“You know I’ll certainly be there with my folks at Walgreens, from pharmacy to supply chain to health and wellness. I hope your company will be represented, too,” he urged.

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