WHAT IT MEANS AND WHY IT’S IMPORTANT For more than a decade, retail pharmacy advocates have worked to convince every stakeholder in the U.S. healthcare system -- physicians, payers, policy-makers and patients themselves -- that community pharmacists have a lot more to offer the nation’s massive health-and-wellness network than simple medication dispensing and basic counseling. As the health-reform debate reached a crescendo last year, those arguments on behalf of pharmacy’s value found their way into congressional hearings and onto the pages of many newspapers.
(THE NEWS: NY Times highlights pharmacists’ evolving role. For the full story, click here)
The message is clearly getting through. On the health policy and legislation front, many of the core objectives voiced by pharmacy lobbyists are reflected in the language of the sweeping health-reform bill signed by President Barack Obama earlier this year. In the managed care arena, many health plans -- not to mention the public and private plan sponsors that pay most of the nation’s healthcare bills -- have launched locally based wellness, disease management and patient-education pilot programs in collaboration with community pharmacists and other health professionals. And, increasingly, the media is picking up the message that pharmacy, in the words of a National Association of Chain Drug Stores public-image campaign, is truly “the face of neighborhood health care.”
Nothing exemplifies the growing public perception of pharmacy’s value in a reformed healthcare system like a front-page story in the nation’s premier newspaper. That article, which ran in the Aug. 13 issue of The New York Times, is sure to help move the needle in the pharmacy profession’s long fight for recognition and reimbursement for its contributions to patient care.