Tuesday, April 2, 2013

The END of Pharmacy Practice

PHARMACY WARRIOR recently posted something very scary for pharmacists and patients... the end of pharmacy practice as we know it. This is due to the Affordable Care Act (ACA), i.e. "Obamacare." 

The key points from this article:

* A key tool in the implementation and success of the ACA is the creation of Accountable Care Organizations (ACOs).
* ACOs are designed to tie provider reimbursement to "quality" metrics and reductions in the total cost of care for the patient population within the ACO. 

* Quality metrics in a pharmacy setting can mean only one thing - churn out more scripts, faster! 

* Medicare Part D plans (such as the AARP plans), limit which retail pharmacies their members can receive their prescriptions from to receive the lowest copay. 

* The muckity-mucks and pencil-pushers of the large chains will therefore accept lower reimbursement for increased market share.
* And that means the only way to meaningfully lower labor costs in a pharmacy is to cut pharmacist wages and hours.  

How does this affect the patient? 

These trends are onerous and fraught with danger for the patient.  There will be even fewer pharmacists checking more prescriptions with less time to screen for interactions and incompatibilities and less time to counsel.  Patients will leave the pharmacy not understanding how to correctly take their medication, what side effects are possible, what the medication is for or what other drugs and foods they should avoid while taking it.

How does this affect the pharmacist?

There will be even fewer jobs for pharmacists as smaller chains and independents close their doors. Wages will spiral downward as an ever increasing number of unemployed pharmacists scrap over what few jobs remain. Pharmacists are charged with protecting the public health regarding the safe and effective use of medications. The practice of pharmacy is historically based on the idea that the pharmacist is the professional that insures that the right patient gets the right drug at the right dose at the right time and that the patient understands how to reach the best possible outcome.

What can we do about it?

GET THE WORD OUT. Contact other pharmacists in your area and let them know our jobs are in jeopardy. As Warrior says, Our only hope of correcting this mess is getting the public, state legislatures and the Boards of Pharmacy to see that drug chains are putting patient lives at risk by impeding the pharmacists duty to protect and inform the patient.

Here's the LINK to the full ARTICLE. Read it, tweet it, print it, pass it on!

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

What is the "practice" of pharmacy anyway? If it is dispensing, yeah, that is probably going to go away. It really does need to go away too. It is the most demeaning, unrewarding thing that we do. Most of you guys doing it talk like you hate it. Is it really the only thing you bring to the table?
I read Pharmacy Warrior's blog too and I don't agree with his (or your) take on the ACA. Here is finally an opportunity to get paid for knowledge, not dispensing. You guys can't see the future, you only wish for the past.
anyone who is trying to save dispensing is a dinosaur, and we all know what happened to them.
But, while most dinosaurs are extinct, some did survive by evolving or adapting.
If you are a dispensing only pharmacist that just wants to count pills and bitch, you'll be extinct in a few years. Why? Because you are not interested in changing, just surviving.
Quit bitching about the way things are and do something about it.