What does your pharmacist do for you?
For most the answer is simple: “they fill my medications.”
A Curant Health patient has a very different answer: “they fill my medications, guide me step-by-step through my treatment, follow up with my refill reminders, answer my questions on a 24/7 basis and contact my physician or insurance provider whenever there’s an issue with my medication.”
It’s not just Curant Health; pharmacists all over the world are evolving into integral members of patient care teams. As health care costs and rates of chronic disease continue to rise, it is becoming increasingly apparent that physicians alone cannot contain these issues. According to a recent report by the National Governors Association, pharmacists are now being recognized as key contributors in managing patients with complex diseases and complicated medication needs.
Why aren’t more patients receiving much-needed care from pharmacists?
Although many stakeholders now see pharmacists as essential members of a robust healthcare team, a significant barrier prevents the health care delivery system from fully integrating pharmacists. As stated in a recent Pharmacy Times article, pharmacists have struggled for decades as one of the few health professions that federal law fails to recognize as a health care provider.
After years of battling the system to break this barrier, a new campaign strives to not only give pharmacists the accreditation they deserve, but also to give patients the care they desperately need.
The Pharmacists Provide Care Initiative
This is the simple yet powerful message of the American Pharmacists Association’s new campaign to educate the public on why pharmacists should be given provider status. As the message states, pharmacists are a major player in today’s healthcare arena. They are the key to reduced hospital readmission rates, increased patient engagement and better health outcomes. They are providers in every sense of the meaning—save the official title.
Why is provider status so important? In short, it would enable pharmacist-provided services to be covered under Medicare laws. While the majority of medical practices such as chiropractors and dieticians are eligible for Medicare reimbursement, pharmacists are left out and therefore often unable to serve populations in critical need of medication management services. The Pharmacists Provide Care campaign targets to amend Section 1861(s)(2) of the Social Security Act so that those under Medicare Part B would be eligible for services provided by pharmacists.
Why does provider status matter?
Unconvinced about how much this amendment could impact the health care system? Simply take a look at the number of populations in critical need that would benefit from pharmacist-provided services. The Pharmacists Provide Care campaign page provides an interactive map that displays the crucial need for H.R. 4190 on a state-by-state basis. Given that Curant Health’s main office is based in Atlanta, we chose to see how this federal ruling would potentially impact the state of Georgia.
What did we find?
Image courtesy of www.pharmacistsprovidecare.com
Out of the 159 counties in Georgia, an astounding 143 include areas that are considered “medically underserved.” That equates to roughly ninety percent of Georgia’s counties in need of health services. Although this is a startling figure, data also shows an estimated 10,200 pharmacists in Georgia that can help fill this critical need.
A large part of this statistic is Georgia’s Medicare population that lacks access to pharmacy services such as drug therapy, chronic condition management and preventative screenings for issues such as blood pressure and cholesterol. Furthermore, they are lacking the education and counseling that are critical, yet often overlooked, aspects of patient care. If federal ruling allows for pharmacists to have provider status, the 10,200 pharmacists in Georgia would have the ability to give all these services and more to the state’s critical populations.
There are a vast amount of issues to be tackled in today’s health care system. While we cannot solve all of them, allowing pharmacists to utilize their expertise and accessibility to alleviate the burden is a huge step in the right direction.
Want to support the Pharmacists Provide Care campaign? Visit their page to become a supporter and help take action.
Want to learn more about Curant Health and the high-touch role our pharmacists play in treating complex conditions? Contact Kristin Lindsey, Marketing Director, at firstname.lastname@example.org.