MTM seen as bridge to community pharmacy

May 21, 2007

Medication therapy management may hold the key to connecting managed care pharmacy and community pharmacy.

Key Points

In an effort to further connect managed care and community pharmacy, the Academy of Managed Care Pharmacy spotlighted medication therapy management (MTM) at its annual meeting, held last month in San Diego. The meeting played host to a record 4,400 attendees.

The academy announced that it has formed an Outreach Task Force, which held its first meeting on the second day of the show in San Diego, with objectives to "initiate programs or communication strategies that will create opportunities for dialogue between community and managed care pharmacists and to build positive relationships focused on improving patient outcomes." As the task force develops these initiatives and strategies to help strengthen the bond between community and managed care pharmacists, MTM promises to play a major role. The task force is headed by Steven Gray, Pharm.D., J.D., immediate past president of AMCP, who will serve as board liaison, and Lisa Tucker, Pharm.D, VP, pharmacy, Magellan Health Services.

The task force actually grew out of an AMCP regional meeting held in Atlanta back in February, according to Stables. There pharmacists were offered continuing education focused on MTM, and community pharmacists were targeted as well as invited to participate.

"There was a lot of energy at that meeting, and from it grew the idea of developing the task force," said Stables. "We knew we had interest from both sides."

The agenda for the task force's initial meeting in San Diego included identifying members with the goal of being fully formed by June, where the task force plans to assemble again at an AMCP leadership meeting in Chicago. "Managed care pharmacists want a closer, more personal relationship with their patients and to do what they truly love to do," said Stables. "And community pharmacists know how important it is to get it right where patients are best served. Working together makes every decision in the patients' best interest."

At one of the show's sessions, Jonathan G. Marquess, Pharm.D., CDE, CDM, president, The Institute for Wellness and Education, emphasized the importance of MTM as a vital link between managed care and community pharmacy. He also had words of praise for community pharmacists regarding their efforts over the first year of providing MTM services under Part D. But he also indicated that there is still much work to be done. "Pharmacists really stepped up, with more than 44,000 [MTM] cases completed last year," he said. "They haven't mastered MTM yet, but they've certainly done a pretty good job over the first year.

"MTM could definitely be a great bridge for managed care and community pharmacy to work together. We need to get pharma companies back in the pharmacies and helping us with educational materials so we can provide the MTM services needed."

Speaking at the show's opening general session, Judith Cahill, executive director of AMCP, emphasized the importance of MTM and outlined some of the academy's plans going forward. Cahill declared, "We produced the [consensus] document last year and needed to go out into the field after publishing it to validate it. By mid-summer we should know more about these pilot programs and we will go back and revise the document as needed. The importance of MTM programs has finally been acknowledged outside of healthcare circles and is increasingly being recognized as the logical specialty of pharmacists."