Steve Pryor, DPh
OPhA President, 2016-17
The pharmacy profession has an opportunity to evolve over the next few years. Change is difficult and sometimes distressing, but the business practices in use by pharmacy for the past 30 years are less and less rewarding and will soon become out of date.
Pharmacy owners and pharmacists must embrace change and position themselves as an important and integral part of the health care delivery system. We must demonstrate our flexibility and versatility in the field of health care. We will invoke a positive attitude and progress with changes in our daily activities.
Low reimbursement by insurers and claw back of fees continue to stress pharmacies. The demand to slow the rise in health care costs drives lower payment for services.
The need for maximum efficiency, as well as expansion of pharmacy services, is required. We must look for new opportunities to improve patient care and create new streams of revenue.
What is our approach to the changes occurring in health care? First, develop a plan and modify it as needed to meet our goals. Second, stay connected with other pharmacists and learn from each other. How do we stay connected? Attend conferences and meetings to gain social and professional interaction. Be an active member of OPhA and NCPA.
Our plans will address areas, including patient education. Treatment of diabetes, obesity, asthma and smoking cessation are a few of the areas of opportunity ahead. We will use our skills and education to improve outcomes for patients in our pharmacy practice sites.
Medication therapy management (MTM) has become an integral part of pharmacy. We will find ways to free up pharmacists to provide these services. Use support staff to help prepare and schedule appointments with patients. Medication adherence is one component of helping patients manage their health. When combined with MTM, it allows pharmacists to inform patients about their medications as well as the importance of taking them correctly. It also allows feedback from patients.
This evolution in pharmacy will come with challenges. Developing new workflow practices and habits, along with staff buy-in and training, are essential. Patients need education about new opportunities offered by pharmacists. We may need to utilize more automation to free up staff. Staff schedules will need modification to allow time for interaction with patients. We are well equipped and trained to deal with these and other challenges that lie ahead. We must lead the way for change in our profession. Let’s get out of our comfort zone and explore new ideas.
How we view changes in health care delivery will ultimately affect the sustainability of our pharmacy practices. How can we expect different results if we continue doing the same things? Ignoring change will most likely result in pharmacy owners decreasing expenses by layoffs of staff, reducing hours of service and cutting expenses wherever possible. I foresee this becoming a downward spiral leading pharmacies to fail.
There is a more suitable solution.
A proactive approach drives the development of new services and allows new opportunities to practice pharmacy. We must look for new ways to improve our patients' health as well as our financial stability.
Finally, I would like to quote the acting dean of Southwestern Oklahoma State University (SWOSU) in 1978 when I attended orientation at the college of pharmacy. Some of you may remember Homer Timmons. This is not an exact quote, but I think you will get the meaning: “If you are here to lick, stick, count and pour, you have come to the wrong school.”
We must do more than dispense medications. Do not let other health care professionals carry out services a pharmacist should be doing. Step up and embrace change. We are the future of pharmacy, and it is our responsibility to manage the changes, challenges and opportunities for future pharmacists.
Are we facing changes in our profession? Yes.
Are those changes bringing challenges to overcome? Yes.
Are there opportunities for new pharmacy services? Yes.
Thank you for allowing me to lead the association for the next year. I look forward to working with you, and I will do my best to engage as many of you as possible in the advancement of pharmacy’s future in Oklahoma.