Magazine article Drug Topics

Pharmacy Leaders Search for Opportunities in Reform

Magazine article Drug Topics

Pharmacy Leaders Search for Opportunities in Reform

Article excerpt

Even two feet of snow couldn't keep pharmacists and industry representatives from attending the 15th Northeast Pharmaceutical Conference in Absecon, N.J., last month. While the sleet and snow fell outside, pharmacy professionals inside talked about the dark cloud looming over Washington and speculated about what type of storm is brewing in the land of health-care reform.

Some people think it will be a hurricane that devastates the entire health-care system, causing pharmacists to rebuild things that weren't even broken to begin with. Others think it's a tornado, making its way down Main Street, heading straight for the neighborhood drugstore. Still others expect to run into a squall but think that, in the end, pharmacy will come out all right. Some optimistic pharmacists are certain that whatever the storm, it's sure to be followed by a rainbow.

Among the hot topics discussed during this two-day conference were access, fee for service, and discriminatory pricing. The general consensus was that the folks in Washington understand the value of pharmacy services and the plight of the neighborhood pharmacist. Whether or not pharmacists will be recognized in the final health-care reform bill, no one knows for sure.

While the challenges and uncertainties of the future seem to overwhelm some pharmacists, all were reminded of the numerous opportunities that exist in the profession.

Calvin Anthony, president of NARD, had encouraging words for pharmacists. "It's important for us to recognize the opportunities that are here. If [people] have the vision to look at health-care reform and say 'OK there are new paradigms, there are new opportunities, there are new ways to deal with these issues. How can I find a way to be successful?'" He pointed out that some of the changes that come about as a result of healthcare reform will allow us to "do things that we've said we can do for a long time," such as effecting therapeutic outcome.

Toward that end, Anthony strongly encourages pharmacists to document the professional services they provide. He noted several cases in which pharmacists received reimbursement for services documented on the NARD claim form. He said that even if R.Ph.s don't get reimbursed for services, filling out the form and sending it to the insurance company will help establish a track record, something our profession should have done several years ago. …

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