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American Pharmacists Association (APhA): Tom Menighan, Executive Vice President and CEO.

2014 was a year filled with great strides and momentum building as we pursue increased access and coverage for consumers who need and deserve the services of pharmacists.

Federal legislation was introduced in March of 2014 and quickly gained bipartisan support. As 2015 unfolds, APhA continues important collaborations with numerous partnering organizations.

We will continue to advance the profession of pharmacy by combining the various pharmacy disciplines into one unified voice, implementing a patient care process that explains exactly what pharmacists can do, and supplying pharmacists with the tools needed to provide care as critical members of multidisciplinary health care teams.

What's your story?

Each and every pharmacist has a personal story to tell--a story that could make a difference as policy makers consider the path forward for team-based care in 2015. Your story must be clearly stated, succinct and to the point. Be ready to convince folks of your value to patient care.

In one sense I'm saying, "Practice what you preach." Practice telling the story before you tell it. This year will be pivotal in the future of our profession. Identify who your congressmen and senators are, and get their contact information. The time will come this year when we'll need to mobilize. Let's be ready to go when that time comes.

When asked, it will be important for you to know and articulate the basics about our legislation. Although the bill number may change in 2015, H.R. 4190, the federal legislation now before Congress, would enable patient access to, and coverage for, Medicare Part B services provided in the state scope of practice for licensed pharmacists in medically underserved communities.

It will be critically important for you to describe how this new coverage will allow you to provide needed services in your community.

One of my favorite quotes is, "A fast talker is someone who says things they haven't thought of yet. " Are you a fast talker or have you thought about your contributions to patient care? I encourage each one of you to work out a 30-second elevator speech and practice it. When the opportunity comes for you to tell your story, whether in a formal or informal setting, and you only have a moment to say something important, you have to know what you're going to say before you say it.

Everyone has their own patient care story, and collectively we need to do a good job of telling those stories. We need to show how pharmacists offer valuable services to the health care system. We need to tell our story from the perspective of what pharmacists have to offer that someone might want to buy, use or take advantage of.

Think about what you would say to the doctors group across the street or to the physician you happen to be standing next to at a football game. In all ways, shapes and forms, individual pharmacists are sharing their patient stories to show how important it is for pharmacists to be recognized as health care providers.

On the Hill, support for H.R. 4190 went from zero when it was introduced in March 2014 to more than 122 congressional co-supporters in just a few short months. APhA has made it easy for you to show your support for the federal legislation. Visit for talking points, background information and advocacy ideas.

Patient care process

As we build out our capability and capacity to provide patient services, and as team-based care evolves, pharmacists are going to have to hone their skills to deliver clinically oriented patient care effectively.

Unlike medicine, nursing and dentistry, pharmacy has not followed a standard patient care process. If our broadly delivered services are to scale, they must be specific (easily described), predictable (available in multiple locations) and measurable (so purchasers know what they are paying for).

And these services need to be provided within a framework that the rest of the health care team understands.

This standard care process for pharmacists has now been published. After two years of research, investigation and comment periods to reach consensus, APhA--along with a working group of representatives from 10 national pharmacy organizations known as the Joint Commission of Pharmacy Practitioners--approved it. And it will soon find its way into the curriculum of U.S. pharmacy schools.

At the center of the process is the establishment of the patient-pharmacist relationship. It is key to support engagement and effective communication with patients, families and caregivers throughout the process.

Additionally, the pharmacist must continually collaborate, document and communicate with physicians and other health care providers in the delivery of patient care services. This process is applicable to pharmacists in any practice setting and for any patient care service that a pharmacist provides.

The care process is delivered using the following five-step approach:

1. The pharmacist should collect information to understand the patient's medication history and clinical status.

2. Assess the information collected, analyze for effectiveness, and prioritize problems.

3. Develop an individualized patient-centered care plan in collaboration with other providers that is evidence based and cost effective.

4. Implement the plan and address any medication problems, modify medication needs, and provide education.

5. Follow up by monitoring and evaluating the effectiveness of the plan and modify as necessary.

The pharmacists' patient care process also advocates for interoperable information technology systems to facilitate efficient and effective communication among all individuals involved in patient care.

Tools to advance

APhA has done an incredible amount of work to revise and update our training programs to supply pharmacists with the tools they need to advance as professionals. And we've woven in the new patient care process along the way.

Pharmacists play key roles in reducing risk for the leading cause of death in the United States--cardiovascular disease --so we created a new certificate training program in pharmacy-based cardiovascular disease risk management. The inaugural offering of this program will be held at the 2015 APhA Annual Meeting in San Diego.

We updated our certificate training programs in immunizations and medication therapy management to enhance pharmacists' clinical expertise and teach pharmacists how to create successful and thriving practices based on these patient care services.

We also launched an advanced training program in pharmacy-based travel health services.

We recently began a partnership with MediMergent to develop and implement a national medication safety training program for pharmacists and their staff. The program will support the National Medication Safety Outcomes and Adherence Program by enhancing medication safety through the direct pharmacy collection of data related to newly approved and marketed drugs.

Chain and independent pharmacists participating in the pilot program will help MediMergent identify around 12,000 novel oral anticoagulant patients and enroll them in the trial.

By addressing medication safety issues and concerns, we are creating opportunities where we can advocate for and consistently engage community pharmacists. We're getting pharmacists plugged in to safety and adherence programs in a new way, and I believe this could lead to better standardization and more effective management of REMS (Risk Evaluation and Mitigation Strategies) programs by pharmacists.

I am so excited to see where 2015 takes the profession of pharmacy. There are so many positive developments on the horizon as we all work together to highlight the valuable contributions pharmacists make every day to patients and the health care team.

"Advancing As One" is our theme for 2015 and it describes how we must advance on many fronts, within and outside of our profession. The time to engage is now!

Tom Menighan, Executive Vice President and CEO
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Title Annotation:Pharmacy Outlook '15
Author:Menighan, Tom
Publication:Chain Drug Review
Date:Jan 5, 2015
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