Magazine article Drug Topics

R.Ph.S Must Be Seen as Partners, Says Restat Chief

Magazine article Drug Topics

R.Ph.S Must Be Seen as Partners, Says Restat Chief

Article excerpt

Instead of trying to tighten the squeeze on pharmacists, third parties need to wake up to the fact that the professional behind the counter can be a key ally in the fight to deliver quality care and hold down costs, according to the president of a fast-growing claims-processing firm.

The pharmacy community must be an "active, major participant in what we do to try to control costs," said C. Thomas Smith, president of Restat. The pharmacist must be viewed as a partner and pharmaceutical care provider, not as a prime target for more profit squeezing. And third-party programs designed at the expense of pharmacists are "doomed to fail" in the long run.

"We embrace rational pharmaceutical care as the best cost-containment mechanism available," said Smith, who assumed leadership of the West Bend, Wis., firm about 18 months ago. "And it's most effective when plans use the knowledge of the pharmacist. We are vigorously working in our systems and designs to integrate those concepts to bring to the forefront the professional knowledge of the pharmacist in impacting outcomes."

Since community pharmacists must also toil in profit centers, Restat is working to recognize and reward pharmacy's potential to impact favorably on cost-containment. "We've designed arrangements that give incentives back to pharmacists for helping control costs in the form of additional dispensing fees and cognitive services fees," Smith told Drug Topics. "We negotiate with clients on that philosophical basis."

That probably sounds good to most pharmacists, who think that being paid for cognitive services is their just reward. The hitch has been that there are no hard data to back up the contention that they save health-care dollars. Smith said that Restat is developing systems to help document the value of those services to show that sound pharmaceutical care decisions result in effective cost control.

"Not only are pharmacists frustrated, purchasers are frustrated, too," Smith said. "The absence of data has caused those parties to be at odds with each other. By providing the mechanisms, we can sit down at the table with pharmacists, physicians, and purchasers to talk about the best rational programs."

Restat believes in minding its p's and q's -- partnerships among patients, payers, and providers means quality health care. …

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