Inside This Issue - Opinion
NACDS has clear view of pharmacy's course
September 13th, 2010
The great American historian Henry Adams wrote, “Chaos often breeds life, when order breeds habit.” If that’s the case, retail pharmacy finds itself in an environment that makes the profession ripe for rejuvenation.
While chaos is too strong a word for the present situation, the health care system has been put on a path toward fundamental change, one that should create significant opportunities for pharmacy to assume a larger role in patient care. But periods of instability also pose substantial risks for those unwilling or unable to adjust to new realities.
The good news is that the leaders of community pharmacy have a sure grasp of where the industry stands and the direction in which it needs to move. In their remarks at last month’s National Association of Chain Drug Stores Pharmacy and Technology Conference in San Diego, Larry Merlo and Steve Anderson provided real insights into the profession’s objectives and how it can attain them.
Anderson, the association’s president and chief executive officer, talked about how passage of the Affordable Care Act created the conditions for a paradigm shift for retail pharmacy. After outlining the major pro-pharmacy provisions of the law and other legislative and legal wins the industry has earned over the past three years, he asserted there is still much to be done.
“Despite all of these victories, there is no way we are going to rest here. We can’t,” Anderson said. “This is about the needs of patients. This is about the expertise and the passion of pharmacists, which can help meet those needs.
“This is about having to do something new if our nation can make more than just a rhetorical promise to bend the cost curve. This is about the simple fact that — while we have accomplished a lot — so much work remains, particularly if pharmacy and its place in health care delivery are not to be turned back.”
Merlo, who is NACDS chairman and president and chief operating officer of CVS Caremark Corp., expanded on the theme of the positive contributions that the industry can make to the well-being of patients and the efficient functioning of the health care system. He pointed to pharmacy’s success in improving access to vital health care services by offering immunizations and honing communications among providers through the use of electronic prescriptions, but stressed the one constant in the profession.
“Equally important is what has not changed,” he noted, “and that is our collective commitment to the health and well-being of those we serve: our customers, our patients.”
By adapting that orientation to the requirements of an evolving health care model, the industry can ensure its continued relevance.
“Service will be defined by how influential our pharmacies have become in shifting patient behavior in ways that improve health outcomes and lower the cost of health care for our society,” said Merlo.
The NACDS leadership team clearly understands what’s at stake and the steps pharmacy must take to capitalize on this historic opportunity. At the same time, it knows that nothing is assured and the industry will have to be prepared to deal with new contingencies.