By Andrew Johnson, Pharm.D., cardiology pharmacist, Bronson Methodist Hospital, Battle Creek
Picture this: a patient is hospitalized for an acute myocardial infarction. The patient was not on any medications prior to the hospital stay and will soon be discharged with five new medications. As the hospital pharmacist reviews the medications with the patient, the pharmacist is informed that the patient does not have insurance. The pharmacist counsels the patient about the new medications and provides affordable options so the patient will be able to afford the medications upon discharge. Because of the pharmacist’s role in this patient’s care, including educating the patient on appropriate use of the medications, re-admission was prevented and the patient is doing well.
Retail, independent, ambulatory, institutional, research and teaching are a few of the many types of pharmacists. Each pharmacist has his or her own stories relating to patient care. Many of these stories are unnoticed by the public. However, in many of these stories, like the one above, the pharmacist’s role in the patient’s care is critical in the management of the patient’s health. Patient’s lives are often changed when pharmacists provide them with resources to utilize their medications appropriately. A few of the critical services that a pharmacist provides to patients include the following: counseling a patient to improve understanding of a medication, participating with the code team in a hospital setting, working with insurance companies to obtain coverage for a high cost or specialty medication, working with physicians to change a medication to a cheaper but equivalent alternative, providing immunizations, reviewing a patient’s medication, or performing a cholesterol or blood pressure review.
The Michigan Society of Health-System Pharmacists' (MSHP) Public Affairs Committee has been continuing to promote the legislation known as the Pharmacy and Medically Underserved Areas of Enhancement Act. The legislation is known as S.109 and H.R.592. Most pharmacists are familiar with the bill. It would enable pharmacists to serve the underserved population by allowing pharmacists to bill and be reimbursed for services provided. This would decrease healthcare costs overall. MSHP has formulated a letter designed to communicate these bills to other organizations throughout Michigan.
Additionally, the Public Affairs Committee continues to promote the ‘That’s My Pharmacist’ campaign in order encourage the public, physicians and patients to view pharmacists as providers. The Committee has updated the MPA website to include two separate sets of handouts describing the critically important services that pharmacists provide for patients with specific disease states. One set of handouts is designed for providers and informs them of the ways in which pharmacists can be utilized for patient care in each specific disease state. The second set of handouts is designed for patients to gain a better understanding of how they can utilize their pharmacist as they better understand and manage their disease state. The website updates also educate the public on the role of the pharmacist in each specific disease state.
One of the charges of the Public Affairs Committee is to create a video in which patients share their personal stories describing how a pharmacist has impacted their lives. The goal in creating this video is to educate both the public and legislators on the critical role pharmacists have in the healthcare system and the life-changing (and potentially life-saving) impact they make in the lives of patients. If you or someone you know have a story you would like to share, please contact the Public Affairs Committee staff liaison, Kristina Bird, at Kristina@MichiganPharmacists.org.
MSHP/MPA members continuously work behind the scenes on the behalf of all pharmacists and their patients to make our voices heard by our legislators. Passing the Pharmacy and Medically Underserved Areas of Enhancement Act is a critical step to make pharmacists providers. The benefits of the bill are not limited to pharmacists alone. Passing the bill will ultimately improve health outcomes and decrease healthcare costs. I encourage you to go to www.ASHP.org where you will find a link to contact your local legislator about the bill. Additionally, you may email or write a letter to your U.S. representative to make your voice heard.