The Future of Pharmacy Is Not All Doom and Gloom

April 18, 2018
Marvin Moore, PharmD
Volume 126, Issue 04

There is plenty for community pharmacists to worry about, but there is a light at the end of the tunnel.

Maybe it’s because it was the first country music concert I attended or maybe because the concert was at Lambeau Field, home to my beloved Packers, either way, I’ve come to really enjoy the music of Kenny Chesney.

One of his more recent songs is titled “Everything’s Gonna Be Alright.” It’s a great tune, even if country music isn’t your preferred genre. The reason I mention this is that I really feel that for those of us dealing with the pressures of owning a community pharmacy, everything is going to be alright.

If you are like me, you’ve seen margins shrink, and shrink, and shrink some more. This month’s cover story on DIR fees underscores this growing challenge. Trying to decipher DIR fees, and dealing with other frustrations such as restricted networks, is no easy task. Now we’re again hearing rumblings of drug reimportation as a potential fix to the rising cost of medicine. These are threats to our livelihood and are reasons to be worried about the future.

But haven’t there always been reasons to worry? I’ve been a pharmacist for a little over 15 years now and I’m not sure I can recall any particular time that there wasn’t at least one threat to what we do. But I also cannot remember a time where our resilience and belief in what we do each and every day did not get us through the tough times or make us stronger. And so here we are, facing more and more pressure on our businesses, and yet there is a light at the end of the tunnel.

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A network of like-minded pharmacies is forming under the Community Pharmacy Enhanced Services Network. My understanding is that one of the end-goals of this network is to change the reimbursement model to one that pays pharmacies for the care we provide, independent of dispensing prescriptions. That’s huge for our profession.

We’ve probably all read hundreds of studies that show the impact pharmacists can have, in pretty much every segment of healthcare. It’s obvious to us that we do more than put pills in bottles, and now it’s up to us to make it obvious to others. Along these lines, those of us in community pharmacy are now being measured (and graded) on the quality we provide via the EQuIPP portal (a performance information-management platform).

While I admit that it’s frustrating to see some payers use these measures to penalize the low performers instead of rewarding the high performers, it still seems like a step in the right direction. I know that seeing a monthly report card has motivated me to keep putting effort and resources into improving my pharmacy’s scores-and I assume I’m not alone in the type-A pursuit for perfection. 

And so here we are, doing what we’ve always done, going that extra mile to help our patients in every way that we can. And even though we may be facing more challenges today than ever before, I believe that what we do matters. We will get through this together and we will be stronger for it. At the end of the day, everything is gonna be alright.