NEEDHAM, Mass. Pharmacy practitioners need to recognize that the profession is now in the midst of “revolutionary” changes and adapt to a far more proactive role in patient outreach and community care, a top executive with the National Association of Chain Drug Stores told more than 300 leaders in health care, business, government and community activism here Tuesday.
As the health paradigm shifts, pharmacists need to leverage their strengths as “medication experts” who can coordinate healthcare efforts within the community, and put patients at the center of those efforts, said Edith Rosato, SVP pharmacy affairs for NACDS and president of the NACDS Foundation. Rosato was addressing a meeting of the Massachusetts Health Council, the nation’s the largest and oldest council devoted to health issues.
The subject of her talk: “Transforming Pharmacy Practice: Managing a Changing Environment.” In her address, Rosato tracked community pharmacy’s evolving role and its ability, as a profession, to adapt to changes in the U.S. healthcare system.
“Pharmacy is embarking on revolutionary times,” Rosato asserted. ”It is only fitting that in the nation’s birthplace — Massachusetts — I lay out the importance of revolutionary change in our field. Only by recognizing this change can we learn to adapt our protocols and practices to better position pharmacy in medication adherence activities, which [improving] health outcomes for patients while also reducing overall healthcare expenditures.
“As the face of neighborhood health care, it is not only our duty to transform to better serve our patients — it is our responsibility,” she added.
By utilizing the accessibility and credibility of pharmacy with the effective use of health information technology and management efficiencies, Rosato told members of the council, pharmacists could play an even bigger role in proactive and integrated patient-centric health care. Among the tools they already wield, she said, are medication therapy management services, vaccinations, patient counseling, and prevention-and-wellness programs.
In a bit of irony, Rosato’s appearance in Massachusetts came as voters in this state were dealing the Obama administration a serious setback in its health-reform efforts by electing Republican Scott Brown to succeed Edward Kennedy, one of the Senate’s most vocal champions of health reform before his death last year.
Brown has vowed to fight reform legislation as the 41st Republican senator, and his election breaks the filibuster-proof, 60-vote majority Democrats have held in the Senate.