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Directly Speaking
Does Your Doctor’s Office Have Its Own Pharmacist?

by Scott A. Meyers, Executive Vice President

It should! And if they don’t, are you doing anything about it? Most academic medical centers have placed pharmacists in physician clinics to add an important component to the team that already exists. Soon, if they haven’t already, many more non-academic health-systems will add their own pharmacists to these physician offices, and the evolution of the medical model will continue.

And that’s a great thing! With the changes in reimbursement models through Medicare Access and CHIP Reauthorization Act (MACRA) and CMS’s final rules for it, there will be new opportunities for pharmacists to become more involved in the medication use process with more emphasis on the prescribing, monitoring and adjusting of medication therapy in the same office as the physician.

If you’re not familiar with MACRA and its rules, don’t feel bad. It’s not a common topic for most pharmacists. But for those few whose job it is to monitor and respond to these types of issues, it is exciting news! Pharmacist provider status may not be as necessary as we have believed, although that’s not to say we won’t be working to change the Pharmacy Practice Act and Medicaid and Insurance Codes so that no matter what the payment model is, pharmacists can be an integral member of the team from both a care and a compensation standpoint. After all, the more we impact the bottom-line in both savings and revenue, the more valuable we are to the model and the team.

If working in a physician’s office is something you’re aiming for, it may not be far off. But even if the laws and rules are slow to change, you should always be discussing your or other pharmacists’ roles with every doctor you meet. As a matter of fact, thanks to an insurance provider change with ICHP, I’m meeting a new doctor in December. Depending on how our first interaction goes, I may encourage him to consider hiring a pharmacist in his clinic. I will do this knowing full well that he’s not going to be the decision maker on this and that because he is part of a large health-system, the decision will have to be made at a much higher level. However, I intend to plant a seed where perhaps none have been planted before and see if the ground is fertile.

It will be interesting to see how my first visit goes and whether he’s open to conversations like this. But I really think that’s how pharmacy is going to win this battle and move from the product to the patient – by talking with those who can use the expertise pharmacists provide as often as possible and in a non-confrontational way. Share what you know and what you see, both in their practice setting and in healthcare in general. Talk about the primary care shortage and how pharmacists can be physician extenders just like PAs and APNs only with much more knowledge of medications and the issues that surround them. There is always something we can do to move the needle on any issue. But we all have and work with doctors, so why not talk to them now?

Does your doctor’s office have its own pharmacist? It should!

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