For ComputerTalk’s November/December 2020 cover story, The New Vision: The Next Big Thing, we asked a range of pharmacy experts to share their thoughts on what innovative pharmacies, technology vendors, and pharmacy organizations see as the biggest and best moves for 2020. Here, Michael Muniz, owner of Muniz Rio Grande Pharmacy in Harlingen, Texas, offers his perspective on the next big thing. It has to be more than dispensing product.
Pharmacy has been all about volume and, to a certain extent, quality. This has been the case for many years, especially as reimbursement for a product has decreased. The only way to be profitable in that side of the business is to have the volume to sustain your business. In the future you have to offer more and be more. I completed a Fellowship in Metabolic & Nutritional Medicine with A4M in 2016, and that has been one of the best things I have invested in. With this training I am able to treat the patient holistically rather than with a compartmental treatment approach. We try to find the root cause of the issue. Much of this starts with what our patients are consuming. I have a program where I sit with patients weekly for a month, then for two more visits at two-week intervals. Here we get them to eat better and to see how foods affect them. This is the nutrition part of healing and different from just diet. We take it to where it is a true lifestyle change. With this we are able to get patients to decrease their medications, and often they are completely taken off medications. They will sometimes use nutritional supplements to get what they are deficient in from only what they are eating.
In Texas, pharmacists will be included as providers and be able to bill insurance companies for the services they provide come January 2020. This billing will be done through the PioneerRx system. I am working with them to get the superbilling software in place. In the meantime patients are paying cash for the service. The encounters are documented in the Practice Better system I use, which is web based. I like this because it can travel with me. I then upload my notes to the PioneerRx system.
These services and payment for these services are the next big thing. Pharmacists will no longer need to be tied to a product. A product will be dispensed at a pharmacy, but pharmacists will be able to go out and partner with physicians and be a point of reference for their patients. This increases the practice setting for a pharmacist.
Don’t get me wrong: We still need to be the ones dispensing the medications and making sure that the patient is not at risk for drug interactions.
My advice: Never stop learning, and continue to be part of the healthcare team. Many of my colleagues only want to dispense a medication and not further their education or specialization, which is the same route taken by those pharmacists who are now closing their pharmacies. We can provide amazing care when we are allowed to be a part of the medical team. CT