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 @ http://ht.ly/8p8nv )
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 http://ht.ly/8p9qx ). 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.