President's Message - New Year’s Resolutions

by Linda Fred, ICHP President
February 13, 2015

The New Year is a great time to reflect on the events of the previous year and look forward to the promise of events to come. I’m not really one for the New Year’s Resolution, but this is a year that promises to be interesting on many levels.

On the national front, the Affordable Care Act, while it has created a large new pool of insured customers for the health care industry, has also created new challenges for us. Access to care, especially in rural areas of the state, continues to be almost in crisis, and many organizations are struggling to meet the needs of the expanding customer base with a provider base that can’t keep pace. Constraints on reimbursement for government funded programs are driving providers and provider organizations to be creative in managing populations across a broadening continuum of care – with more transitions, more outpatient and home-based care, and a greater requirement for care coordination. All the while, we are asked to achieve and publicly report a growing array of quality and satisfaction metrics. Layer on top of that that new Republican-led Congress and ongoing Supreme Court challenges to the Act, and that makes for a very uncertain financial climate for the entire industry. The general economic outlook is strong though with unemployment numbers at the lowest rate in six years, and people feel more optimistic about the future. In Illinois, however, (and predictably) there are still issues – with ongoing budgetary constraints and political infighting. (Wow, does anyone else feel like “budgetary constraints” and “political infighting” are both absurd understatements in Illinois?)

Within pharmacy we continue to fight, state-by-state and at the national level, for provider status recognition. The profession is also spreading its wings a little bit as the access to care issues and transitions of care opportunities converge to create some exceptional openings for pharmacist expertise. As the pharmacists fill some of those access-created holes, our technicians are stepping into greater support opportunities as well. We are finding new and expanded ways to use our technical support staff to free up pharmacist time for a greater volume and new types of direct patient care activities.

What’s the ICHP climate for the New Year? It’s sunny! We are financially strong and are fortunate to have an outstanding staff and great group of committed volunteers. We came out of the Leadership Retreat last fall with a lot of ideas for improving member value, and I think we are all energized and excited about the challenges and opportunities we face. We have plans for an early 2015 membership drive and are hoping to expand the number of technicians utilizing Pharmacy Tech Topics™ as the source for their mandatory CE.

So…now for the 2015 New Year’s Resolutions:
  1. Make both an ICHP and ASHP PAC contribution this year in support of legislative efforts to achieve recognition as providers for pharmacists. I’ve contributed to the ICHP PAC for several years but have never made an ASHP contribution. We need a concentrated and coordinated approach. It’s time for us all to support our state and national organizations in this goal.
  2. Deploy another pharmacist in a Care Transitions role in my organization, and create better ways to demonstrate the value of that workforce in the Care Transitions setting. We have a number of staff working in these types of roles already, but the timing is right to expand and we also have to continue to demonstrate meaningful value in improvements in quality, access, and satisfaction.
  3. Implement at least one expanded role for pharmacy technicians in my organization.Again, we currently have technicians operating in high-functioning roles, but I have to challenge my staff to push the envelope.
  4. Recruit five new ICHP members. I need to be a better ICHP Ambassador. I love the organization and have been an active volunteer for most of my career. I need to do a better job of telling others why ICHP is important and encouraging not only membership, but active volunteerism.
  5. Finally, I want to make the most of my last few months with my daughter before she moves out on her own. Ellen is entering her final semester of college. I have been so fortunate that she decided to attend a local university. I got four more years together with her than many parents get, and it has been a great pleasure to spend these years with a young adult daughter who makes me so proud. I will miss her company and her excitement in life and her new career so much. It’s highly likely that she will end up in New York City, and I want to have no regrets about how we spend these last few months!
(And – #6 might be to check into pharmacist license transfer requirements for New York.) :)

I hope some of these ideas inspire you to invest in professional growth for yourself and our organization in 2015.

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