Time to get out the big fat crayon

December 15, 2010

Despite the barriers to provision of MTM that exist for pharmacists, figuring out a way to do it is our professional obligation.

Key Points

There is usually a section instructing me to checkmark all the barriers to providing MTM that I perceive. Then the survey asks me to rank the barriers according to some order of magnitude. Next I'm asked how I feel about certain barriers (e.g., "On a scale of 1 to 10, how does the lack of patient awareness affect the number of MTM services you provide?"). By the time I get to the last section (which, by the way, is a blank box asking me to list any other barriers that I may know of, so that they can undoubtedly add more items to their previous sections), I just want to shout, "ENOUGH, ALREADY!"

Yes, barriers to providing MTM do exist for pharmacists. I'm not about to say that providing MTM is as easy (or as comfortable) as verifying prescriptions, counseling a patient, or scribbling down a refill authorization. But we all have to figure out a way to do it - we should feel an obligation to do it.

Yet it seems to me as if provision of MTM by pharmacists is more of a niche than the norm right now. This has to change.

If you are a pharmacist in an independent community pharmacy that is not currently providing MTM, start! If you don't know how, pick up the phone and call one of the thousands who have figured it out.

If you are in an upper-level management position in a chain pharmacy organization that is not allowing pharmacists time to provide MTM, figure out a way! Make it a priority. The pharmacists working under you need your support. Start with paying them to be out of the workflow 1 hour a week. Offer them an incentive to provide MTM, and hold them accountable. Create new ways to make use of technicians. Think of it as an investment in the future ... an advancement of the profession.

Let's stop focusing on barriers and listing reasons why we cannot provide MTM. Years ago (when what is now referred to as MTM was called pharmaceutical care) a pharmacy professor for whom I have a great deal of respect would from time to time be confronted by a pharmacist or student who was skeptical about providing high-level patient care. When said skeptic would rattle off the typical laundry list of issues (lack of time, lack of tools, lack of space, etc.) that stood in the way, the professor's response was "You can provide pharmaceutical care with a blank sheet of paper and a big fat crayon. Just do it."

I think it's time for all of us to start coloring.

The opinions expressed by guest editorial writers are their own and do not necessarily represent the views of Drug Topics' staff or the staff of Advanstar Communications.