WHAT IT MEANS AND WHY IT'S IMPORTANT Add another plank to the increasingly solid platform that supports pharmacy’s long-standing fight for a full seat at the healthcare table.
(THE NEWS: ASHP: Healthcare teams with pharmacists improve patient care. For the full story, click here)
Anew health-outcomes study — this one from the American Society of Health-System Pharmacists — yet again demonstrates the unmet potential of community pharmacy as its leaders work to convince policy-makers and health plan payers that pharmacists can do far more than dispense drugs, provide basic counseling and monitor drug interactions. When published in the October edition of the journal Medical Care, the study will add to the growing mountain of evidence supporting pharmacy’s longstanding argument that it brings improved patient outcomes and real cost savings to a fractured healthcare system in dire need of solutions.
The ASHP study, called “US Pharmacists’ Effect as Team Members on Patient Care: Systematic Review and Meta-Analyses,” analyzed the impact on patient health and safety of numerous interventions by pharmacists. Researchers cast a wide net, tracking the results of dozens of pharmacy-care initiatives by reviewing nearly 300 articles and professional papers on the topic.
It was a worthwhile documentation project. Looking at the overall impact of pharmacist interventions and integrated-care programs from the 30,000-ft. level, ASHP found a clear pattern: Community pharmacists working in concert with other members of a patient’s healthcare team can make a big difference in healthier patients and reduced health costs.
One example: An analysis of those many interventions and disease-management efforts found that patients who worked with their pharmacist were 47% less likely to suffer an adverse drug event. And early 90% of studies tracking pharmacists’ impact on managing hemoglobian A1c showed favorable results.
Industry leaders at last week's National Association of Chain Drug Stores 2010 Pharmacy and Technology Conference made impassioned pleas on behalf of a broader role for pharmacy in a new, reformed U.S. healthcare system. Among them was NACDS president and CEO Steve Anderson, who noted that the pharmacy profession and industry are undergoing a “historic paradigm change” as pharmacists and pharmacy leaders expand their patient-care and clinical capabilities and provide new solutions to a “broken” healthcare system undergoing rapid change.
Also issuing a call to action at the San Diego event was NACDS chairman and CVS/pharmacy president Larry Merlo. “We must ensure that the value of the pharmacy industry and its pharmacists are recognized by payer reimbursement policies — not just for the products we sell but for the services we provide,” Merlo told NACDS members. “We’re positioned to help control the costs of health care by advocating for the value of ... pharmacy care.”