Magazine article Drug Topics

Transition of Care: The Challenge for Pharmacists

Magazine article Drug Topics

Transition of Care: The Challenge for Pharmacists

Article excerpt

Pharmacists have been handed a golden opportunity to engage in a cognitive service distinct from distributing "the product." It is an opportunity that can move us from sale of medications to provision of pharmaceutical care review and patient counseling, with the additional benefit of payment for these services.

Not the first time

This opportunity arises from the need for services at the stage of patient management currently known as transition of care. Other names have characterized these services in the past. You may remember the buzz about "continuity of care," "disease management," and "medication management."

To its credit, the profession of pharmacy recognized these previous opportunities clearly and identified our roles in connection with them. But the subsequent follow-through has left something to be desired.

Yes, as a profession we have given these activities much rhetorical attention under the banner of speeches, writings, and blog posts on "the role of the pharmacist in...." But when the rubber met the road, most pharmacists did not vociferously, forcefully, or unrelentingly exert their professional influence to enforce these services as standards of practice. Nor did the profession demand and effect systemic change that would ethically mandate such services and incorporate them into practice ... and into a professional fee.

As always, when the debate became intense or contentious, or when personal sacrifice was required, pharmacists - true to their underlying nature as "rulefollowers" - slunk away and went back to work, giving great customer service at the lowest possible price.

Back at the crossroads

The question now, at yet another "crossroads" for our profession, is how well will pharmacists respond - not organized pharmacy or pharmacies (places can't do things, remember) or non-pharmacist pharmacy companies, but individual pharmacists? How will we respond?

Will we nod our heads and agree, "Yes, pharmacists are responsible for safe and effective use of medications by their patients" and then put on a pensive face and lament, "But the company I work for won't allow me time to do anything but fill prescriptions and call for refill alerts"?

Or will we individually start to identify patients who need transition-of-care services, provide those services, and then Ml for them? …

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