CEO Blog/08.26.16


Susan A. Cantrell, RPh, CAE



The Post Cites Pharmacists’ Expanding Role on Medical Teams



Last week I saw a headline that jumped off the page: “America’s other drug problem: Giving the elderly too many prescriptions” (Washington Post, Aug. 15). I couldn’t read it fast enough and encourage members to do likewise, as it highlights two of the most important developments in health care.

One is the growing participation of pharmacists on medical teams comprising physicians, nurses and others. While Dominick Bailey and other pharmacists described in the article counsel patients and manage medications to avoid improper dosing, dangerous interactions, and allergic reactions, we know pharmacists today do much more.

For example, under collaborative practice agreements (now recognized in nearly all states), pharmacists are modifying current drug therapy, initiating new therapy, ordering lab work, and examining patients. This expanded role is especially important given another trend pointed out in the article: more and more patients are on multiple medications prescribed by multiple providers for multiple conditions.

Alas, Medicare does not recognize pharmacists as providers and pay for these services particularly. There’s growing evidence that pharmacist-provided medication management during hospital stays and transitions of care from the hospital to the home or other setting is money well spent. Congress need only act—rest assured, passing provider status legislation continues to be a high priority for AMCP.

In addition, pharmacy organizations are addressing the problem of polypharmacy in older adults in other important ways. Currently, many of these pharmacist-provided services aren’t captured in electronic health records, leaving other providers in the dark. More important, public health suffers: incidents of adverse drug events escape attention. Several pharmacy organizations are working together to refine EHR coding for MTM to capture these important events. (See box on the right.) 

I’m pleased that the Post article is raising awareness of our profession’s growing role. It reconfirms an observation I made at last April’s Annual Meeting: Never before has managed care pharmacy played such a central role in improving patient outcomes and ensuring the wise use of our health care dollars.

Feedback Sought on Draft SNOMED CT Framework

AMCP, the Pharmacy Quality Alliance (PQA), and the Pharmacy Health Information Technology (PHIT) Collaborative last week released a draft standardized framework for documenting medication therapy management (MTM) services using Systematized Nomenclature of Medicine: Clinical Terms (or SNOMED CT) — a standard clinical terminology used for the electronic exchange of clinical health information and reporting of clinical quality measures.

The organizations are seeking stakeholder comments on the recommendations by Sep. 16, 2016. They may be found at