Doug Hoey, RPh, MBA
Chief Executive Officer
National Community Pharmacists Association (NCPA)
Doug Hoey will join nearly 8,000 other attendees at Cardinal Health's annual Retail Business Conference, one of the nation's largest annual gatherings of community pharmacists, taking place this year July 23-26 in Washington, D.C. Before the big event, Essential Insights asked Hoey to share his perspective on how community pharmacists can lead change to improve patient care.
Q: How do you see the role of pharmacists expanding in patient care?
Pharmacists are arguably the most under-utilized health care provider today. I believe that's going to change for several reasons. First, our population is aging as an estimated 10,000 Baby Boomers become Medicare eligible every day and will require more care. Second, there will be greater use of health care services as previously uninsured individuals obtain coverage through the Affordable Care Act (ACA). Third, there are not enough primary care physicians to meet today's needs, let alone higher demand for services down the road.
In fact, the ACA mandates coverage by health plans for a number of preventative care services that pharmacists can provide today. These include immunizations, diet and obesity counseling, and screenings for blood pressure, cholesterol, diabetes, and tobacco use.
Of course, today the majority of pharmacists' role is tied to their dispensing of and expertise in prescription medications. There, too, I see a larger role for pharmacists as awareness increases regarding the importance of the proper use of and adherence to prescription drugs. For example, Medicare started applying "star ratings" to prescription drug plans based on a variety of factors, including beneficiaries' adherence to their medication, which pharmacies can help improve.
Patients are already on board, judging by opinion polls. For decades pharmacists have ranked among the most trusted professionals in America for honesty and integrity, according to Gallup's annual survey.
Q: How could legislation for provider status change the future of pharmacy?
The lack of federal recognition of pharmacists as providers under Medicare is a barrier. It prevents pharmacists from practicing to the full extent of their licensure. Granting pharmacists provider status has the potential to transform the profession and patient care in a positive way.
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