For those of you who were at CPhA’s West Coast Pharmacy Exchange in March, you know that pharmacist provider status played a big role all weekend. One of the most inspiring moments was the keynote speech by Assistant U.S. Surgeon General, RADM Scott Giberson. In his speech, Dr. Giberson urged pharmacists to not be shy or apologetic about provider status. Expanding the role of pharmacists in the healthcare system is not a selfish goal; it means using pharmacists consistent with their training to provide better care to more patients.
Summary of Dr. Giberson’s “elevator speech” on provider status:
We could agree that the “burden” of health care in the United States statistically continues to be postdiagnosis. Over 76 percent of physician office visits are chronic care. It can also be said the primary treatment method in the nation is undoubtedly through the use of medications—nearly 80 percent of diagnoses are treated primarily through medications. This incurs tremendous costs.
Keep that in mind and think about solutions to improve the health of the nation:
Yet pharmacists are likely the most underutilized health care provider in the nation. We may be missing an opportunity to address health system burdens with one of the nation’s most capable providers.
- Pharmacists are the second most highly trained health care professional (behind only physicians) based on years of formal education.
- The focus of the pharmacy curriculum is mainly postdiagnosis, including treatment of chronic conditions where medications are the primary form of treatment.
- Pharmacists are a primary key to cost containment and have demonstrated an average return on investment of $4:1 over the last two decades.
- Pharmacists are accessible everywhere. Nearly the equivalent of the entire US population passes through the doors of a pharmacy each week. Pharmacies are on every street corner in every town, city, and state across the nation.
- Decades of factual evidence exists demonstrating that pharmacists deliver when given the opportunity to perform in an expanded scope.
- There is scant evidence that refutes this data or that expanded scopes are ineffective.