Pharmacy can play a key role in accountable care organizations (ACOs), which seek to improve health care quality and control costs for patients, according to the National Association of Chain Drug Stores.


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NACDS: Accountable care groups should include pharmacists

November 23rd, 2010

ALEXANDRIA, Va. – Pharmacy can play a key role in accountable care organizations (ACOs), which seek to improve health care quality and control costs for patients, according to the National Association of Chain Drug Stores.

NACDS said Tuesday that it has submitted comments in a letter to the National Committee for Quality Assurance (NCQA) recommending that pharmacists be included as members of an ACO patient team.

ACOs are provider groups that accept responsibility for the cost and quality of care delivered to a specific population of patients. NCQA formed a task force that developed criteria as a set of core capabilities that an ACO should demonstrate to be recognized as an accountable entity, and the committee sought comments on this draft qualifying criteria, NACDS explained.

"Pharmacists are experts in medication use and serve on interdisciplinary patient care teams to ensure medications are used safely, effectively and in a cost-conscious manner," NACDS stated in the letter.

NACDS also urged that NCQA recognize medication therapy management (MTM) as a core element of an ACO, given its importance in managing care to help improve patient health and reduce health care costs.

"Pharmacist-provided MTM is consistent with the goals of ACOs — improving health, improving the patient experience and reducing costs — and should be recognized as such," the letter said.

The association also noted that proper use of prescription drugs helps improve quality of life and health outcomes for patients.

"Pharmacists have extensive clinical knowledge and expertise in the use of medications and are one of the most accessible of all health care professionals," the letter stated. "This makes them uniquely positioned in the health care system to help patients optimize appropriate medication use, reduce medication-related problems and improve health outcomes through the delivery of pharmacist-provided patient care services, including MTM."

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