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Reported October 18, 2013

Health-Care Demands: Can Pharmacists Fill the Void?

By Emily Farr, Ivanhoe Health Correspondent

(Ivanhoe Newswire) –Before the Affordable Care Act (ACA), the U.S. was already facing a shortage of primary-care physicians, a problem that could become worse due to the increased demand for services. However, as Douglas Hoey, CEO of the National Community Pharmacists Association (NCPA), told Ivanhoe at the NCPA 115th Annual Convention and Trade Exposition, there are thousands of health-care professionals that can help fill this void, namely pharmacists.

“Now, is our time to act because of medical adherence, because of the rampant prescription drug abuse problem in our country, and because of the worsening primary care shortages.  Pharmacists are ideally situated,” Hoey said.

In most states, pharmacists provide services like diabetes education, immunizations, and blood pressure monitoring.  However, the ACA does not recognize pharmacists as health-care providers. 

As Douglas Hoey stated, the value of pharmacists as providers already exceeds the services they provide and translates into real savings in the health-care system. First, pharmacists maximize the use of lower-cost generic medications when appropriate.  In fact, Hoey said that this year “pharmacist recommendations to physicians about generic drug use were accepted 83 percent of the time.”

Second, pharmacists offer counseling services that help patients take their medications consistently and properly to avoid more-expensive procedures.  “Forty-eight percent of independent community pharmacies are offering adherence counseling services, up from 39 percent from last year. We believe adherence is a building block for pharmacists as they develop clinical services,” Hoey stated.  Non-adherence to medication costs the health-care system nearly $300 billion a year in unnecessary expenses.

As the ACA is implemented, community pharmacists are willing to do their part in offering patient care in this new and changing environment.

For more information, go to: http://www.ncpanet.org/index.php/events/2013-annual-convention

SOURCE: NCPA 115th Annual Convention and Trade Exposition in Orlando, Fla., October 2013

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