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During the American Pharmacists Association’s annual meeting in Orlando last weekend, the leadership called on its members to advocate for provider status and expanded scope of practice.
During the American Pharmacists Association’s (APhA) annual meeting in Orlando last weekend, the leadership called on its members to advocate for provider status and expanded scope of practice.
And the time is right to move the profession forward because there are unprecedented opportunities for pharmacists, such as the expansion of medication therapy management (MTM) services for Medicare beneficiaries, growing evidence of pharmacists’ value, and an expanding pharmacist workforce, noted Stacie Maas, RPh, JD, senior vice president, Pharmacy Practice and Government Affairs for APhA.
In mid-March a bipartisan bill, H.R. 4190, introduced in the House of Representatives, would amend Title XVIII of the Social Security Act to include pharmacists as healthcare providers in medically underserved areas throughout the United States. This year’s keynote speaker of the opening general session echoed the APhA’s leaders’ message and went a step further, calling on pharmacists to become public health providers.
Former U.S. Surgeon General Richard H. Carmona, MD, MPH, FACS, said pharmacists have the tools and knowledge to be able to mentor patients with chronic diseases, such as cardiovascular disease, and to follow and guide them.
“We can’t afford any longer to just have a public health department deal with those things. It is my humble opinion that each and every one of us have to become public health providers with the skills and scope of practice we have and when necessary expand the scope of practice. The silos have to come down,” Carmona said.
His presentation, “Cardiovascular Practice Update 2014: The Heart of the Matter,” emphasized that the disease burden of CVD is about aberrant behaviors and, therefore, is largely preventable. With help from pharmacists as health coaches, patients will be able to modify their diets, increase their physical activity, and make healthy lifestyle choices to lessen morbidity and mortality associated with CVD.
“We need to arm and empower every person in the country who has the ability to do this, to be an agent of execution around health. Again, who is better suited to do that than pharmacists engaging patients on a daily basis,” Carmona said.
Pharmacists are ideal for this expanded role as they are the most accessible healthcare providers that patients encounter several times per week. Not only can pharmacists address patients’ pharmaceutical needs, they can help patients with their overall health and encourage them to change some behaviors and when necessary, refer them to appropriate specialists, he continued.
“We desperately need you to address the unmet healthcare needs of the nation outside of pharmacy. We know you do a great thing for pharmacy, but there is so much more that you can do, so we can appreciate our health goals,” Carmona said.