Message to Pharmacists: Be the Healthcare Provider

11 Jan

Do pharmacists need to be recognized as medical providers? Or is it time to move forward without waiting for this to happen?

I’ve seen a lot of discussion about the need for pharmacists to be recognized as medical providers. Is this something that needs to happen before MTM can move forward? Eric (@EricRPh on Twitter) writes on his blog Eric, Pharmacist on this topic:

“If pharmacists receive provider status and are able to bill for services rendered, the entire medication therapy management MTM practice model will take off. There are innovative minds in the pharmacy world that will revolutionize healthcare, but we need to be sure that the bills will be paid at the end of the day. Changing the practice model today with the hopes of reimbursement tomorrow isn’t going to cut it. We need to become recognized providers now. There is a petition floating around out there to try to get pharmacists recognized as providers. If you haven’t done so already, I suggest that you check it out.” – read Eric,Pharmacist’s blog @ )

I appreciate and agree with Eric’s comments. But I also would say pharmacists need to “BE the healthcare provider now… the rest will fall into place” to all pharmacists, whether in retail, hospital, drug chains or pharmacists interested in MTM consulting.

Pharmacists have been using the ‘waiting for reimbursement’ argument for providing MTM or consulting services for years. We could continue to wait like the profession has in the past. OR we can step up and BE THE HEALTHCARE PROVIDER now and show that we can provide valuable services to patients, physician practices, medical home providers, and any other applicable areas of healthcare.

According to my trusted advisers at Wikipedia, “a health care provider is an individual or an institution that provides preventive, curative, promotional or rehabilitative health care services in a systematic way to individuals, families or communities”.  Pharmacists have been doing all the above for years.

“An individual health care provider (also known as a health worker) may be a health care professional, an allied health professional, a community health worker, or another person trained and knowledgeable in medicine, nursing or other allied health professions, or public/community health”.  Pharmacists fall within this definition of a health care provider already.

So I ask the question again:

Do pharmacists need to be recognized as medical providers?

I was pleased to read Medscape/Pharmacists recent interview with Vincent J. Willey, PharmD, who comments on the pharmacists role in the medical home model (see attached link ).   He illustrates how and where a pharmacist can provide input and interact within the system and the healthcare team to provide services and promote better overall patient care.  This is the picture of what I think of as a pharmacist ‘being a healthcare provider’.  He, and many other pharmacists like him, are already recognized as medical or healthcare providers based on the value of the services they add to patient care and other healthcare providers.

Believe in yourself, your profession, and the services you provide as a pharmacist.  In whatever area of pharmacy you practice you should ‘BE THE HEALTHCARE PROVIDER’ at all times. Whether in retail, hospital, long term care or other area of pharmacy practice, you should ‘step up and show your stuff’. Providing valuable information to patients, physicians, nurses, etc., will show them your true capabilities and further define your place on the healthcare team. Continue to do so and they will become dependent on your input. You will get the respect, cooperation and reimbursement you deserve in direct proportion to the value you provide to them.

Maybe, more importantly, you will have the personal satisfaction of knowing you’ve done your best in your efforts to apply your pharmacy knowledge to improve patient care and promote positive outcomes.


6 Responses to “Message to Pharmacists: Be the Healthcare Provider”

  1. drannagarrett April 7, 2012 at 6:45 am #

    Dave…couldn’t agree with you more. Your thoughts about “BEING” the thing you want apply to all aspects of life. I coach so many clients who are waiting around for something (to lose weight, find a perfect time, get provider status) in order to start their lives. Taking one small step toward what we want makes all the difference and generates momentum toward that big goal!

    I think we tend to get caught up in the Have, Do, Be way of thinking about things. We want to have provider status, so we can do the care and be a healthcare provider. The truth is that when we BE the healthcare provider and DO the care, the HAVING of provider status will ultimately follow (albeit slowly).

    Thanks as always for your insight!

  2. PillBuster April 7, 2012 at 10:10 pm #

    I think this story has been repeated over and over whether to wait for recognition or just do it. The problem is that there is no agreed upon definition of what the Pharmacist health care provider really is. Is it just counting pills ? Is it providing information to the patient and other health care providers ? Is it making decesions about a patient’s health without having to go through a hurdles whether it be policy, law or certain other health care providers who think pharmacists should not budge in and there is only one ultimate decesion maker ? Or, is it really all about prescribing ?
    I think one or more of our organizations have to agree on what the pharmacist health practioner really is and part of this needs to include decision making like, well, prescribing. Geezz PA’s and Nurses (NP’s) made this transition years ago and with just a few extra hits of training !! So once a definition is agreed upon, get our best practioners on national cable news shows whenever there our questions about new or existing drugs with or without a physician appearing alongside because one of the key groups of people you will need to convince besides the medical community is the public.
    I have talked till Iam blue in the face to a few key representative groups but no one wants to stand out and take the risk and nothing ever happens i.e. is the legal risk really that great (is this really the big snag)? Anything other than following some of this logic will only change the cover but little if any of the context of the book.

  3. unitedbiotechunited June 25, 2014 at 3:58 am #

    Awesome !!!!
    thanks for sharing pharmacy related post really very nice
    Pharmaceutical Company


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    […] Walker, RPh, on his blog, has this to say: “Pharmacists have been using the ‘waiting for reimbursement’ argument for […]

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    […] Walker, RPh, on his blog, has this to say: “Pharmacists have been using the ‘waiting for reimbursement’ argument for […]

  3. Tomorrow’s Pharmacist Today | pharmacy 2.0 and 1/2 - November 10, 2013

    […] written before on the topic of pharmacists “being the healthcare provider”. As PROVIDERS of services (including MTM services) and EDUCATORS to help patients understand their […]

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