The Pharmacists Provide Care campaign has generated more than 37,000 letters to Congress, one major result of which is that the Pharmacy and Medically Underserved Areas Enhancement Act (H.R. 592/S. 314) has 271 cosponsors in the House and 42 in the Senate. If enacted, pharmacist will be defined as providers and eligible for reimbursement under Medicare Part B for services provide “in a setting located in a health professional shortage area (as defined in section 332(a)(1)(A) of the Public Health Service Act), medically underserved area, or medically underserved population (as defined in section 330(b)(3) of such Act).”

Along similar lines, APhA highlighted its role in encouraging CMS to work towards an improved medication therapy management benefit in standalone Medicare Part D plans.

ComputerTalk columnist Marsha Millonig has provided some excellent further reading on the topics of expanding reimbursement opportunities and the enhanced MTM initiative in her two most recent Catalyst Corner columns.

And the evidence for the critical role of pharmacist care continues to build. The most recent Sustainable Solutions report released by Shoppers Drug Mart Corporation, Canada’s largest retail pharmacy, focused specifically on the impact pharmacist interventions have in medication adherence. The introduction to report frames the issue well:

“While pharmacists’ role in our healthcare system has expanded significantly over the last few years, there is definitely room for it to evolve even further. Included in this report is evidence that clearly shows that pharmacist interventions in medication adherence are having positive impacts, and provides suggestions for further expanding that role.” p. 5

The report distills this chain’s approach into four steps:

  1. Medication Review
  2. Patient Follow-up Phone Calls
  3. Assessing, Adapting, and Renewing Prescriptions
  4. Compliance packs

The evidence from Canada on the power of compliance packaging in particular, with the report citing a study that found that “adherence scores rose from 84% to 94% after six months of using the compliance packs…” (p. 19)

It may not seem like enough for the efforts to gain provider status to focus solely on underserved populations. But there are a few reasons why this may be much more than a simple thin-end-of-the-wedge approach.

First, there are lot of underserved populations out there, as this map from page 3 of the 2015 edition of the Pharmacists’ Patient Care Services Digest shows:

Next, there’s every indication that there isn’t going to be a sufficient number of physicians to care for patients.
And finally, it makes sense that there are big improvements to be made in the overall health of our society if pharmacists are able to bring services to those who do not have them.