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New NACDS chairman: 'We can serve as front line of health care'
April 23rd, 2013
PALM BEACH, Fla. – In his first remarks as National Association of Chain Drug Stores chairman, Thrifty White Pharmacy president and chief executive officer Robert Narveson stressed the need to help shape public policy to improve patient outcomes.
Narveson, who spoke Tuesday during a Business Program of the NACDS Annual Meeting here, described the oath of the pharmacist and said, "It's worth asking if today's approach to health care delivery, and today's government policies, utilize the pharmacist to optimize the value of pharmacy."
He pointed out that NACDS has made significant headway in raising government awareness of community pharmacy's value, as well as in influencing policy. But he added that continued advancement will require further evolution of government's view of pharmacy.
"It's the difference between one model focusing on outcomes and total health care spend, and another commodities-based model focusing only on drug spend and not the total health care cost," Narveson explained.
It's critical for community pharmacy to focus on patient health outcomes and the ability of pharmacy services to pare total health care costs as the U.S. population ages, more people attain health insurance coverage via health care reform, and costs mount from nonadherence to medication therapies, according to Narveson.
"I often cite the words of the late C. Everett Koop, former Surgeon General of the United States: 'Drugs don't work in patients who don't take them.' Great statement," he told attendees. "All we need is the access to the patient and programs that support adherence and we can make it happen."
He cited programs at Thrifty White and public policy developments aimed at boosting medication adherence. The latter, he said, includes legislation to enhance medication therapy management (MTM) accessibility in Medicare Part D; expansion of the role of pharmacists in accountable care organizations (ACOs) and other new health care delivery models; a sharp focus on health reform implementation; and enhanced oversight of Medicare Part D network operations, including preferred pharmacy networks.
Enabling members of Congress to see pharmacy's health care contributions firsthand in pharmacy tours through the NACDS RxImpact advocacy program also can leave a lasting impression with policy makers, Narveson added.
"Those who write our laws and formulate our rules need to see our stores, so they can see pharmacies as the face of neighborhood health care," he said, citing pharmacy services such as MTM, immunizations, medication reviews, hospital discharge programs and medication synchronization programs. "When they see these services, and the relationship between customers and their local pharmacists, it becomes clear we can serve as the front line of health care and the first opportunity for prevention, and reduce health care costs for the customer."