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DENVER — The effort by community pharmacy to rise to the occasion and showcase its life-saving and cost-reducing power in health care has never been stronger. That was a key message that National Association of Chain Drug Stores president and CEO Steve Anderson had for attendees of the NACDS Pharmacy and Technology Conference being held in Denver. However, he also warned against complacency.
“We are seeing victories in public perception that are tied to victories in public policy,” Anderson said. “Posting wins is our job at NACDS, and we take our work seriously. Patient care deserves nothing less than victories that help save lives, reduce costs and improve healthcare delivery.”
Anderson gave credit to allies across community pharmacy who have helped to tell the story of the industry and of the profession.
“Effectiveness in communicating pharmacy’s value reflects a resurgence across pharmacy — a rising up — a commitment to tell pharmacy’s story and to demand a response,” he said. “We are done talking to ourselves within the pharmacy community. We are done preaching to the choir. We are reaching out to elected officials, to the media, to healthcare partners, to employers, to patients, to those who have a say and a stake in the way patients get their care in the U.S.A.”
During his remarks, Anderson recounted NACDS’ focused approach over the past five years to telling community pharmacy’s story as the “face of neighborhood healthcare.” He noted that opinion research conducted by NACDS revealed the need to communicate this message in 2007, and that similar research over the course of the past month indicates that pharmacy’s story remains compelling and is taking root.
Referring to the most recent research, Anderson said, “The thoughts of survey participants have evolved over the past five years when it comes to the role of pharmacies. We saw indications that they appreciate more and more the personal interaction with trusted pharmacists — and the work of pharmacists to foster patient safety, and the safe use of medications.”
Anderson provided examples of NACDS’ and all of pharmacy’s commitment to highlighting the new range of pharmacy services that save lives and reduce healthcare costs. He cited political engagement — including pharmacy’s active role in the Republican and Democratic National Conventions — as well as increased engagement in pharmacy tours for members of Congress and other aspects of the NACDS RxIMPACT grassroots program; increased visibility for pharmacy in the media; and the proactive outreach of the NACDS Pharmacy Care and Patient Advocacy Department, which was created in November 2012.
“It’s great if NACDS has helped to re-ignite pharmacy’s passion for external communications — and we’ve been told it has,” Anderson said. “But what matters most is that more people than ever before are engaged in the work of telling pharmacy’s story. If you are one of them, thank you!” Anderson warned against complacency, however, particularly amid the current landscape.
“This focus and tenacity are necessary in the face of massive instability in our country,” he said. “We face a pivotal election. We will see many new members of Congress who need to be educated on the value of pharmacy and on our crucial issues that impact their constituents and your patients. The future of health reform will be written with each passing day. And nationally, and in the states, decisions will be made against ever-tighter budgets.”
Noting that NACDS will celebrate its 80th anniversary in 2013, Anderson said that “the right leaders, at the right time, have made NACDS great,” and invited all attendees to assume the mantle of leadership.
“Leadership within pharmacy is an opportunity open to each and a responsibility demanded of all,” he said. “And more and more of you are answering that call than ever before.
“The people of pharmacy counsel patients, and they also tell their story through the media. The people of pharmacy are more visible in the store, and they are more visible with members of Congress as well. The people of pharmacy provide new services, and they perform new roles as active participants in our democracy. In short, the people of pharmacy save lives and reduce costs. They educate the nation on how much more pharmacy care can do, and the response — from patients to policymakers — has been extraordinary.”
Anderson concluded, “I want to thank you for being here at this Conference. I want to thank you for engaging in NACDS, and I want to thank you for joining together to write pharmacy’s future.”