With a collective eye on ongoing healthcare reform efforts, the University of Maryland School of Pharmacy on June 9 will be hosting a timely and wide-ranging National Leadership Roundtable on how an expanded role for pharmacists is improving health outcomes and health care expenditures in communities nationwide.
"We as pharmacists have made great progress in demonstrating improved outcomes and reduced overall healthcare costs in patients with chronic diseases when medication therapy management services are implemented in various healthcare settings," says Magaly Rodriguez de Bittner, PharmD, BCPS, CDE, professor and chair of the School's Department of Pharmacy Practice and Science, and executive director of its Center for Innovative Pharmacy Solutions (CIPS). "In this meeting, we will be looking for an interdisplinary dialogue on the contributions and challenges presented by having the pharmacists fully participate in a collaborative manner in healthcare delivery under the new healthcare reform legislation"
The traditional role of the pharmacist has undergone a makeover in the past decade with greater emphasis on monitoring and managing patient care, thus placing the industry on the cusp of new opportunities in integrated healthcare partnerships with other providers, patients, employers, and insurers.
C. Edwin Webb, PharmD, MPH, associate executive director at the American College of Clinical Pharmacy, says participants at the roundtable will "focus on the challenges, opportunities, and solutions that are being identified that can bring comprehensive, quality-based medication management services to the nation's healthcare delivery system."
Also, the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act of 2009 and continuing state reform efforts have opened further avenues for community pharmacists to develop medication therapy management services and interdisciplinary care coordination, including pay-for-performance programs from insurers.
Rodriguez de Bittner says the roundtable is timely. "It is important for all healthcare providers including the pharmacists to define new models for pay for performance and clinical care delivery. This conference will provide a forum to have a unique and far-reaching discussion of 'how do we transform the healthcare system to maximize the role of all the members of the team with special emphasis on the pharmacists' significant contributions to create patient-centered care.'"
One of the nation's leading advocates of pharmacist-directed healthcare, Terry McInnis, MD, MPH, says, "The pharmacist can become the single most important transformative force in improving healthcare and reducing healthcare costs. But the pivotal question is 'but will they?'" McInnis is with the Patient Centered Primary Care Collaborative in Washington, D.C., and is president of the healthcare consulting firm Blue Thorn Inc. of Cary, N.C.
She continues, "The roundtable organized by the University of Maryland School of Pharmacy will further incorporate comprehensive medication management into the role of the clinical pharmacist. It is a very, very timely discussion getting some national attention because we have put it into practice resulting in very drastic improvement of health care for patients."
The roundtable speaker's agenda [ http://pharmacists4knowledge.org/cips ] includes a veritable "Who's Who," says Rodriquez de Bittner, of top-tier health management officials from government, industry, and nonprofit agencies. The list includes speakers from the Centers of Medicare and Medicaid Services, American Society of Consultant Pharmacists, U.S. Public Health Services, U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs, American College of Clinical Pharmacy, American Pharmacists Association, Gingrich Center for Health Transformation, CareFirst BlueCross BlueShield of Maryland, Brookings Institution, and American Association of Retired Persons.
Also speaking will be the co-chair of the Maryland Health Care Reform Coordinating Council Lt. Gov. Anthony Brown, and officials from several healthcare management companies. Joshua M. Sharfstein, MD, secretary of the Maryland Department of Health and Mental Hygiene (MDHMH), who is a former deputy secretary of the Food and Drug Administration, will lead a delegation of officials from the MDHMH.
Webb elaborates on the new pharmacist in healthcare: "Clinical pharmacists, working as integral members of interprofessional teams, such as patient-centered medical homes and accountable care organizations, provide both focused expertise and enhanced energy to the patient care process. This promotes quality and safety of medication use and demonstrates the importance of aligning practice and payment policy changes to help assure that a truly patient-centered approach to care becomes reality."
McInnis says landing a good mix of experts at the Maryland roundtable is crucial. "Many of us have been working on placing clinical pharmacists into the delivery system. I think bringing all of the groups together is critical because we have to figure out how to transform the pharmacist into clinical practice, and we want to figure out payment, so we need the payers there and we need other providers such as nurses and physicians there to recognize how much we need the pharmacist."
She makes a further point that many pharmacies now have automated (robotic) dispensing of prescription pills, freeing more and more pharmacists for broader roles in healthcare.
The University of Maryland School of Pharmacy is consistently ranked in the top 10 pharmacy schools in the nation, according to U.S. News and World Report. "The University of Maryland School of Pharmacy is passionate about advocating for the advanced role of the pharmacists on the healthcare team," says Natalie D. Eddington, PhD, FAAPS, dean of the School. "Pharmacists are uniquely qualified to provide medication therapy management services, monitor drug-drug interactions, and to counsel patients on the importance of medication adherence. The National Leadership Roundtable is an opportunity to bring together leaders from pharmacy, policy, payers, and the government to discuss implementation of programs and services that maximize the pharmacist's role with the ultimate goal of saving money and improving patient outcomes." Such outcomes are apparent in the Maryland P3 Program, which is a partnership between the University of Maryland School of Pharmacy and many others such as the Maryland Department of Health and Mental Hygiene and the Maryland Pharmacists Association.
The roundtable is co-hosted by the American Society of Consultant Pharmacists, the American College of Clinical Pharmacy, the American Pharmacist Association, and the University of Maryland Medical Center. It is sponsored by Connect for Education.