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WEST PALM BEACH, Fla. — As the retail pharmacy industry continues to explore outcome-based solutions to help drive down the cost of overall health care, incoming National Association of Chain Drug Stores chairman Robert Narveson pointed to the oath a pharmacist takes for inspiration during his inaugural address here before attendees of the 2013 NACDS Annual Meeting.
"It focuses on the welfare of humanity," he said. "It pledges knowledge, experience and skills to optimize patient outcomes [and] promises trust." To be a pharmacist is to pledge to be forward-thinking in patient care and to be committed to mentoring the next generation of pharmacists.
"Like many others in this room, I'm not a pharmacist," Narveson said. "[But] I'm absolutely convinced of the power of community pharmacy to dramatically improve the welfare of humanity."
The value of pharmacy is readily evident. "Patients rely on pharmacists to meet their health and wellness needs and to support medication adherence," he said. The pharmacist serves on the front lines of health care across many rural and underserved communities. And as the demand for greater access to healthcare services has climbed, so too has the role pharmacy plays in healthcare delivery — vaccinations, disease-state testing, self-care recommendations, in-store clinics, medication therapy management.
Narveson noted NACDS’ substantial progress in boosting awareness within the government of community pharmacy’s value, and in shaping public policy. He said that future advancement will require further evolution of government’s view of pharmacy.
“It’s the difference between one model focusing on outcomes and total healthcare spend, and another commodities-based model focusing only on drug spend and not the total healthcare cost,” he said.
The focus on outcomes and the ability of pharmacy services to reduce total healthcare costs will continue to increase in significance with the aging of America, with the increase in covered individuals as a result of healthcare reform, and with the substantial costs associated with non-adherence to medication therapies.
“I often cite the words of the late C. Everett Koop, former Surgeon General of the United States: ‘Drugs don’t work in patients who don’t take them,’” Narveson said. “All we need is the access to the patient and programs that support adherence and we can make it happen.”
To help realize the full potential of community pharmacy in improving patient outcomes, Narveson noted the importance of hosting members of Congress for pharmacy tours through the NACDS RxIMPACT grassroots advocacy program.
“Those who write our laws and formulate our rules need to see our stores, so they can see pharmacies as the face of neighborhood health care,” he said, noting the power of seeing in action today’s pharmacy services such as MTM, immunizations, brown bag medication reviews, hospital discharge programs, medication synchronization programs and regular pharmacist-patient touch points.
“When they see these services, and the relationship between customers and their local pharmacists, it becomes clear we can serve as the front line of health care and the first opportunity for prevention, and reduce healthcare costs for the customer,” he said.
Reflecting the priority that NACDS places on chain-supplier relationships, Narveson recognized the engagement of Roberto Marques, company group chairman, North America, Johnson & Johnson Family of Consumers Companies, who supported and spoke at this morning’s NACDS Annual Meeting Business Program.
Marques identified five global trends that represent on one hand challenges to the retail pharmacy sector and on the other hand opportunities. The list is the same, he said. First there is the lack of healthcare literacy — more than 89 million Americans can be classified as healthcare "illiterate." And while that can be challenging in terms of driving compliance and adherence, there is opportunity to raise the bar in healthcare education. Other trends include the aging of America with more and more baby boomers celebrating their 65th birthdays. Ever-emerging technologies, specialization of health care and workplace wellness programs are other significant trends across health care today.
NACDS' Business Program also featured a keynote address by Robert Gates, who served as Secretary of Defense from 2006 to 2011 and served eight presidents in national security and intelligence capacities. Another Business Program highlight was a presentation by the Belmont University 2012 Enactus World Champion team. Enactus — former Students in Free Enterprise — is a community of student, academic and business leaders committed to using the power of entrepreneurial action to transform lives and shape a better and more sustainable world.
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