Why should pharmacists collaborate?
Many health plans have adopted value-based payment models, and while these incentive programs were designed to enhance the quality of care, they also put additional pressure on providers to meet performance requirements. These changes, however cumbersome, have presented a unique opportunity for pharmacists to collaborate with providers. Pharmacists are trained uniquely from physicians and have the ideal background and training to assist in patient care, but how do we as pharmacists convey our worth?
How can pharmacists pitch to and connect with providers?
Pharmacists and providers share a lot of similarities that are not necessarily well-known between the different professions, but it is these similarities that can serve as a conversation point for securing an agreement to collaborate.
1. Share Your Performance Measures: Pharmacies are also measured on performance but many providers are unaware of this fact. This can be observed through the Medicare Part D Star Ratings that were designed by the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) to measure pharmacy performance with standard metrics. Since providers are now receiving adjustments to reimbursements from CMS, they are more likely to see this as a commonality between pharmacies and practices.
2. Connect on Pressure Points: Independent providers have likely received offers to sell to chains or large hospital systems, much like the offers that are received by independent pharmacies. Additionally, the increased workload that often accompanies quality performance models are mirrored in both practice settings. Upon establishing a connection, providers may be more likely to listen to the solutions that pharmacists can provide.
3. Provide an Example of Pharmacy Intervention with Appropriate Documentation: If providers have not worked closely with pharmacists before, they may not fully understand the enhanced clinical services that can be provided by pharmacists. Additionally, providers may not be aware of the intensive counseling services that are provided to patients within the pharmacy every day. Through appropriate documentation of interventions, pharmacists may have a stronger case for highlighting the knowledge and skills of their peers as well as the value of collaboration. Trends to improve documentation of pharmacist activities can be seen through the development of the Pharmacist eCare Plan among other technological advancements are improving every day.1
4. Connect to the Quadruple Aim: Pharmacies pursuing collaborative services should consider how they can impact the Quadruple Aim.2 The connection between the service and one of the four aims should be addressed in the conversation. Is this a service that will enhance the patient experience, make an impact on population health, help with cost reduction, and/or reduce the burden put on single members of the healthcare team? By utilizing lessons learned through elevating the role of technicians, pharmacists can also provide solutions for primary care provides, allowing providers too, to practice at the top of their license.
Several studies have shown the clinical impact that pharmacists can make when they are involved as part of the healthcare team, and additional studies are being conducted to highlight the impact that pharmacists can have on quality in value-based payment models.3,4,5 Keeping this in mind, there is a strong case for collaboration between pharmacists and providers to serve as partners in this evolving healthcare transformation.
“[Our clinical pharmacist] demonstrated a very high level of clinical knowledge and communication skills in working with staff and patients from a diverse background. We were delighted to work with her and know that she can look forward to an excellent career as a clinical pharmacist.”
“[The clinical pharmacists] have been instrumental in helping me provide more comprehensive care.”
-J.T., MHS, PA-C, AAHIVS, DFAAPA
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1. U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. Pharmacist eCare Plan. Available at: https://www.healthit.gov/techlab/ipg/node/4/submission/1376. Accessed June 19, 2019.
2. Bodenheimer T, Sinsky C. From Triple to Quadruple Aim: Care of the Patient Requires Care of the Provider. Ann Fam Med 2014;12(6):573–6.
3. Cranor CW, Bunting BA, Christensen DB. The Asheville Project: long-term clinical and economic outcomes of a community pharmacy diabetes care program. J Am Pharm Assoc. 2003;43(2):173–184.
4. Carter BL, Bergus GR, Dawson JD, et al. A cluster randomized trial to evaluate physician/pharmacist collaboration to improve blood pressure control. J Clin Hypertens. 2008;10(4):260–271.
5. Sinclair J, Bentley OS, et al. Impact of a pharmacist in improving quality measures that affect payments to physicians. J Am Pharm Assoc 2019;S1544–3191(19)30137–2.
Originally published on Medium by the Avant Institute on January 8, 2020.