PHARMACY

Diabetes stakeholders discuss how healthcare-reform law affects patients

BY Alaric DeArment

NEW YORK — Healthcare reform has remained a major subject of debate since President Barack Obama signed the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act last March, but what the law means for diabetes care was the particular focus of a conference call with diabetes stakeholders Tuesday.

The conference call, sponsored by healthcare research firm Avalere Health, discussed various provisions in the healthcare-reform law that affect patients with diabetes, including incentives for prevention of chronic disease in Medicaid, the creation of the National Diabetes Prevention Program, coverage expansion and elimination of co-payments for preventive services and immunizations.

“It’ll be interesting to see what the results of some of these initiatives are and how they affect care,” Avalere manager Kathleen Gravelle said.

Much of the discussion focused on the role of the physician, but Novo Nordisk senior director of government affairs Christopher Porter also emphasized the role of pharmacists.

“Obviously, there’s a number of places that communities and initiatives have involved pharmacists, and there have been tremendous results,” Porter said. “From our perspective, we see the pharmacist as really a key person.”

Indeed, pharmacists’ accessibility and ability to work directly with patients could be a particular asset, especially as the incidence and costs of diabetes are set to dramatically rise in the coming years. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 25.8 million Americans have diabetes, and the cost of treating the disease, $299 billion in 2010, is expected to rise to $374 billion by 2015 and to $514 billion in 2025.

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NACDS signs on for Partnership for Patients: Better Care, Lower Costs

BY Antoinette Alexander

ALEXANDRIA, Va. — The National Association of Chain Drug Stores said that it has signed on as a partner for a new public-private partnership, announced by the Department of Health and Human Services and Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services, that seeks to improve patient health and lower healthcare costs through the use of community-based care transition programs.

NACDS lauded the initiative’s recognition of pharmacy’s role in helping patients take their medications as prescribed.

"[Today’s] announcement continues the momentum behind the increased recognition of the value of pharmacy services in healthcare delivery, and we applaud secretary of Health and Human Services Kathleen Sebelius and Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services administrator Don Berwick for recognizing pharmacy’s ability to help reduce costs and save and improve lives," NACDS president and CEO Steve Anderson stated. "The pharmacist is an important partner as a patient transitions from a hospital to other settings of care. Pharmacists provide counseling on how best to take medications as prescribed — also known as medication adherence — which can help ensure optimum patient health and prevent more costly and avoidable forms of care."

HHS predicted that the Partnership for Patients: Better Care, Lower Costs initiative will help save 60,000 lives and up to $35 billion, including up to $10 billion for Medicare, by preventing complications when patients transition from one care setting to another, such as when patients are released from the hospital and return home.

NACDS signed the Partnership Commitment Pledge, which stated: "As professionals who have dedicated our lives to caring for patients, families and communities, we support the goals of this Initiative and commit to building on work already under way to achieve safe, high-quality care by utilizing tools and processes that seek to improve safety and continuity for patients. We pledge to:

  • Work to redesign activities across clinical settings to reduce harm, reduce preventable readmissions and improve care transitions;

  • Engage with patients and families to implement practices that foster more patient-centered care that improves safety, communication and care coordination; and

  • Learn from and share with others our experiences with making care safer and more coordinated."

One of the elements of this initiative in which pharmacy can play a vital role is helping patients achieve better health and helping to reduce avoidable healthcare costs through the use of medication review and management, NACDS stated.

The Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act of 2010 provided $500 million in new funding for community-based care transition programs to reduce hospital re-admissions and improve patient care. This collaborative approach by community healthcare providers would enable patients to receive the most appropriate, individualized care as they transition from a hospital.

"As the New England Healthcare Institute found, the result of patients not taking their medications as prescribed is more than $290 billion in additional costs each year resulting from emergency and catastrophic healthcare costs, among other factors. These costs can be curbed through the utilization of pharmacy within the healthcare delivery system and programs like this partnership," Anderson added. "As the face of neighborhood health care, pharmacy is part of the solution."

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McKesson mobilizes 15,000 employees as part of Operation Gratitude

BY Michael Johnsen

SAN FRANCISCO — As part of its 13th annual corporate volunteer program “Community Days,” McKesson on Monday announced its support for Operation Gratitude, whereby 15,000 McKesson employees from more than 150 McKesson sites across the country will come together to assemble more than 28,000 care packages for active duty troops deployed around the world and wounded warriors recuperating stateside.

The McKesson care packages, which include such personal hygiene items as deodorant, shave gel, disposable razors, ibuprofen, hand sanitizer and other essentials items, “are intended to lift morale, bring a smile to a service member’s face and provide troops with a little piece of home while they are away,” McKesson stated.

McKesson is partnering with Operation Gratitude, a nonprofit volunteer-based organization that annually sends more than 100,000 care packages to individually named U.S. service members deployed overseas. McKesson is dedicating its annual Community Days to show its support for the men and women of the armed forces by assembling care packages and writing heartfelt letters to soldiers, sailors, airmen and Marines.

“McKesson is honored to mobilize 15,000 employee volunteers to build care packages for troops deployed in harm’s way,” stated Brian Tyler, president of McKesson U.S. Pharmaceutical Distribution Services. “Given McKesson’s history in serving our armed forces and veterans, teaming up with Operation Gratitude is a natural fit.”

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