National Governors Association: States can better integrate pharmacists into health care system

Ringing in the new year with more good news for pharmacist provider status efforts, the National Governors Association (NGA) yesterday released a paper, “The Expanding Role of Pharmacists in a Transformed Health Care System,”on how states can integrate pharmacists more fully into the health care system.

“To better integrate pharmacists into the health care delivery system and allow them to practice to the full scope of their professional training, states should review the laws and regulations affecting the profession and consider actions to expand pharmacists’ scope of practice,” noted the NGA news release.

The greatest challenges pharmacists face include restrictions in collaborative practice agreements, “recognition of pharmacists as health care providers to ensure compensation for direct patient care services,” and access to health information technology (IT) systems, the report concluded.

The issue brief, fourth in a series examining ways that states can expand their health care workforce—others focused on physician assistants, dental hygienists, and nurse practitioners—was funded by the Health Resources and Services Administration, the federal agency within the U.S. Department of Health & Human Services.

National pharmacy associations were pleased by the news.

“APhA is thrilled that the National Governors Association cites the use of pharmacists and their patient care services as an opportunity for states to provide more effective and efficient health care. The report lays out for state governments what our profession and our patients already know—that pharmacists and their patient care services are an integral part of the patient’s health care team because of the value they bring to patients and the health care system,” said Stacie Maass, BSPharm, JD, APhA Senior Vice President of Pharmacy Practice and Government Affairs.

“The recently published report from the National Governors Association reaffirms what has been shown research and in practice: when pharmacists are included on the health care team, outcomes improve and costs go down,” said Krystalyn K. Weaver, PharmD, National Alliance of State Pharmacy Associations Director of Policy and State Relations. “The policy considerations put forth in the paper support the efforts by state pharmacy associations to advance state-level provider status by integrating pharmacists’ patient care services into state-provided health benefits and aligning state scope of practice laws and regulations with pharmacist training and education.”

The report included sections on pharmacists’ clinical training and expertise; current scope of practice, including advanced practice designations; the evolving role of pharmacists, including integration into chronic care delivery teams; state-specific models of team-based care using pharmacists; challenges and barriers to maximizing the effectiveness of pharmacists within the health care system, including variation in state laws governing collaborative practice agreements, recognition of professional services and related payment fees, and access to health IT systems.

“As the health care system undergoes a major transformation in both finance and the delivery of services, states are focusing on improved quality and health outcomes,” NGA Executive Director Dan Crippen said in a statement. “Integrating pharmacists, who represent the third largest health profession, into the health care delivery system is one way to meet these goals.”

See the original article on the Pharmacists.com website.