December 03, 2021

Provider Status and Digital Pharmacy: A Winning Combination for Patient Care and Labor Challenges

James Stevenson
PharmD, FASHP, Chief Clinical Officer, Omnicell

The United States faces a shortage of physicians – expected to reach approximately 139,000 by 2030.

In response to this worsening primary caregiver shortage, Congress introduced the Pharmacy and Medically Underserved Areas Enhancement Act, which would give pharmacists provider status under Medicare Part B. This would allow them to be reimbursed for providing more services like medication therapy management, immunizations, point of care testing, chronic disease management, and much more. This will provide financial incentives to position pharmacists in higher-value tasks in the ambulatory setting.

Evidence shows that pharmacists make a significant impact on patients' health outcomes and reducing healthcare costs. Pharmacist provider status would align reimbursement with pharmacists' services and give underserved patients more access to crucial care.

Join me along with pharmacy and industry leaders for our upcoming event Provider Status and Digital Pharmacy: A Winning Combination for Patient Care and Labor Challenges, which takes place on Monday, Dec 6, from 2:00 PM to 3:00 PM EST during the virtual American Society of Health System Pharmacists (ASHP) Midyear Meeting 2021. Chris Fortier of Massachusetts General Hospital, Jeff Little of Saint Luke's Hospital, and Ronna Hauser of the National Community Pharmacists Association (NCPA) will share their perspectives on the impact that pharmacist provider status would have on both the community and health-system pharmacy practices.

Community pharmacists are among America's most accessible healthcare providers, seeing patients an average of 35 times each year. There's a total of 21,000 independent pharmacies across the U.S. that are available to help alleviate the labor shortage of medical professionals.

Retail clinics will also play an essential role in supporting healthcare needs among the medically underserved population. A pharmacy is within five miles of nearly 90 percent of the population. Patients can easily reach pharmacies, which are ready to help, but medical services through pharmacists are not sustainable without Medicare reimbursement. The Act would provide growth opportunities for retail pharmacies operating in medically underserved areas in the U.S. It would also enable pharmacists to practice at the top of their scope and license, improve job satisfaction, provide fair compensation, and ultimately enhance patient outcomes.

Pharmacists are the second-most highly trained professionals behind physicians. Yet studies show that only about 25 percent of their time is spent on clinical services for patients. Our discussion will also focus on how automation and intelligence will play a critical role in allowing pharmacists to refocus their time on more patient care activities.

For example, clinical pharmacy services can be augmented by reducing the time spent on administrative or drug distribution tasks. Furthermore, advanced analytics can help prioritize clinical activities. Using artificial intelligence can prevent high-risk patients from developing medication complications. Utilizing AI enables proactive medication management versus a reactive approach.

The pandemic highlighted the critical role automation and intelligence play in assisting pharmacists in providing more value in the healthcare system. Data is essential to provide more efficient inventory management and optimize clinical outcomes based on patient-specific decisions.

We look forward to a robust discussion during this ASHP Midyear Meeting Promotional Theater event. Register today to join us on Monday, Dec 6 at 2:00 PM to hear more about the critical issue of provider status and the digital pharmacy.

Disclaimer
The views and opinions expressed in this blog are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of any other agency, organization, employer, or company. Assumptions made in the analysis are not reflective of the position of any entity other than the author(s). These views are always subject to change, revision, and rethinking at any time and may not be held in perpetuity.

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