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Partnering with Kaiser Foundation Health Plan of the Mid-Atlantic States, the American Pharmacists Association is offering coverage of medication therapy management services provided by pharmacists to employees who are members of Kaiser Permanente.
While professional organizations in pharmacy promote the benefits of medication therapy management (MTM), the American Pharmacists Association (APhA) is the first to provide MTM services to its employees.
Partnering with Kaiser Foundation Health Plan of the Mid-Atlantic States, APhA is offering coverage of MTM services provided by pharmacists to employees who are members of Kaiser Permanente.
"There is a bigger realization by managed care organizations about the role of pharmacists," said Jim Owen, director of professional practice for APhA. Since APhA has long advocated for expansion of pharmacists' role in MTM, the organization's CEO, Thomas Menighan, approached Kaiser Permanente to find out "how we could increase exposure of the services that we are advocating to pharmacists, to our employees," Owen said.
As part of the pilot project, MTM pharmacists conduct a comprehensive medication review with employees, initially over the phone. "Based on that phone conversation, if additional follow-up is required, they can get additional MTM services, " Owen said. The APhA employees - approximately 150 are eligible for the program - can contact one of Kaiser Permanente's medical centers and are referred to a clinical pharmacist at the location.
While the program is benefiting APhA employees, there is more at stake. Kaiser Permanente executives are collecting data on how the pilot project works and may expand offerings to other members (beyond its Medicare Part D members, who are eligible for MTM coverage). "They are using it as a test model, to determine how they can transform the role of the community pharmacist, which is medication dispensing and counseling. They would be adding comprehensive medication therapy review to that role," Owen said.
"Kaiser Permanente recognizes the value pharmacists provide as integral healthcare team members in improving healthcare outcomes," said Cynthia Adams, director of pharmacy operations and clinical services for Kaiser Permanente Mid-Atlantic States.
Of course, there are additional benefits for managed care organizations that provide MTM services, including improving patients' medication adherence and reducing healthcare costs. "We are doing some detailed analysis outcomes and they are looking at the overall numbers for the cost of care," Owen said.
In addition, Kaiser Permanente is documenting outcomes in HealthConnect, the managed care company's electronic medical records system, which "ensures that a medication history is recorded and available to health professionals involved in treatment," Adams said.