Some Thoughts on this Thanksgiving

A quick internet search will bring you all sorts of insights into the ‘meaning of Thanksgiving’ or the history of harvest festivals around the world with each culture’s particular ‘spin’ on the observance. For me personally, I have always marveled at the fact, that we as a country, community, society, family, etc. actually set aside a day to enjoy each other and count our manifold blessings. Two of my favorite quotes come to mind:

 “Gratitude is not only the greatest of virtues, but the parent of all the others.” ~ Cicero

 “As we express our gratitude, we must never forget that the highest appreciation is not to utter words, but to live by them.”  ~ John Fitzgerald Kennedy

 As I reflect on this Thanksgiving Day, I think back to the many blessings we have encountered this past year.  While they are too numerous to list here and now, they can not be ignored. Each year brings new challenges.  This year has certainly been no exception.  We have met those challenges and look forward to meeting future ones with strength and honesty towards our mission.  We entered this business with the purpose of bringing a better model to the PRN pharmacy world and are continuing to adjust our business model to best serve each specific market requirement. Thank you each and every one for your individual contributions to our meeting those challenges.

For those of you who have blessed us with your pharmacy business or are contemplating our services, we thank you. For those of you who have represented our company or are awaiting new assignments, we thank you all. Your trust in allowing us to help fill your needs is deeply appreciated. I count each and every one of you as part of our blessings to which I am eternally thankful.

Thomas Denton, CERS, CPC, CTS

Apex Medical Placements, Inc.

www.ApexMedicalPlacements.com

www.MyApexCareer.com

tdenton@ApexMedicalPlacements.com

1 800 875-9022 Phone

1 800 875-9022 Direct Fax

Healthcare Reform: Changes That Make a Difference

Here at Apex we’re thinking a lot about the proposed changes in today’s healthcare system and what they really mean for pharmacists and consumers. Despite the shifting winds of healthcare reform in politics or around the kitchen table, the pharmacist’s role will undoubtedly expand. Because of the Accountable Care Act (ACA) that President Obama signed into law this year, numerous provisions have been designed to increase care coordination through interdisciplinary health teams. Pharmacists will have new opportunities in integrated care partnerships involving providers, patients, employers and insurers according to Bruce Stuart, professor at the University of Maryland School of Pharmacy. The ACA provides for a care delivery system called the Accountable Care Organization (ACO) which focuses on primary care with responsibility for coordination of all specialty services. “One of the health reform law’s elements most dear to the hearts of pharmacists is a provision offering grants to community pharmacists to develop medication therapy management (MTM) services,” said Stuart. Good medication management procedures are key to effective care coordination and this is where pharmacists can play a major role.

Models of MTM services have been proposed by many pharmacy and retail organizations and strive to improve collaboration and communication among pharmacists and other members of the healthcare team in order to improve patient outcomes. Perhaps most important is the emphasis on empowering patients to take an active role in managing their medications. This means that MTM services would shift from the present medication dispensing , product-centered model to a patient-centered one and would encompass the assessment and evaluation of a patient’s complete medication therapy regimen, rather than focusing on individual medication products. And, since according to the American Pharmacists Association, some 1.5 million preventable medication errors costing over $177 billion in terms of morbidity and mortality occur in the US annually, change is long overdue. One argument against healthcare reform is that it costs too much. But such arguments fade in light of the fact that as changes in the way healthcare is delivered are instituted, more efficient and accurate methods will prevent deaths and injuries, in turn saving money.

The idea of healthcare and how it should be delivered is shifting among practitioners in the US, if not yet among politicians. The vision is more holistic, and proposes a team approach in which treatments and medications are instituted through communication and collaboration among medical specialists with the patient/consumer at the center, as opposed to outside of his own care. In this new model there are fewer errors and less replication of tests and treatments, saving money. Through consumer education an emphasis is put on prevention rather than cure, further reducing costs. But money cannot be the only consideration when considering healthcare reform. In the end care of our health is a personal issue which speaks to the well-being of our families and institutions, not just our bank accounts. New approaches to keeping us well, such as MTM services, are clearly called for; by partnering with members of the health care team and encouraging collaboration between medical specialties, the image of bettering our lives through an efficient, accessible healthcare system comes into focus.

Everything You Always Wanted to Know About Today’s Pharmacist But Were Afraid to Ask

Each year countless new medications and medical products are placed on the market. Both patients and physicians expect pharmacists to be knowledgeable about them. That’s a lot of pressure and a lot of responsibility but US pharmacists appear to be meeting our expectations. We trust them. Pharmacists are the most accessible healthcare professionals and know more about medications, prescription and over-the-counter, then any other member of the health care team. In 1998, for the 10th consecutive year, America’s pharmacists topped the Gallup Poll list of businessmen and professionals for their “honesty and ethical standards.” In the 2004 poll, pharmacists came in second, just behind nurses but ahead of physicians, police officers, judges and even clergy members – which begs the question, why?

The best possible explanation is that pharmacists play a vital role in the healthcare system through the medicine and information they provide. The bottom line is that pharmacists help patients get well. A pharmacist’s responsibilities include a range of care for patients, from dispensing drugs to monitoring patient health and progress to maximizing the response to specific medications. Pharmacists also educate consumers and patients on the use of prescriptions and over-the-counter medications and advise physicians, nurses and other health professionals on drug decisions. The pharmacist practicing today provides a much broader range of services than was offered even ten years ago. The profession has embraced the concept of pharmaceutical care which extends the pharmacist’s role to providing medication therapy that continues through to the goal of improved patient outcomes. Pharmacists are involved in improving the quality of the drug use process and identifying ways to reduce medication errors, reducing costs and improving outcomes. Whether or not the current health reform efforts succeed, they have brought into sharp focus the sever­ity of two issues: the spiraling cost of healthcare and the substantial unmet need for care. A solution may be as close as the corner drug­store; pharmacies are uniquely positioned to help meet two goals of reform – providing convenient, expanded access to medi­cal care and controlling costs.

There are some 10,000 drugs available on the market today. It seems that as soon as one TV commercial airs for the next pharmaceutical panacea, another airs for a law firm suing manufacturers for “bad drugs.” As medications become increasingly complex and diverse we look to our neighborhood pharmacists for clarity. Because of their ever-expanding role as drug experts, counselors and watch dogs, consumers can find some help navigating their way through the healthcare maze.

Expanding the Pharmacist’s Role

A friend of ours here at Apex Medical is a newborn ICU nurse in a mid-sized city university hospital. You could say it’s a small job – tiny babies, teeny veins, infinitesimal drug dosages. Of course, the stakes are not small for these babies or their parents. Many of these kids face huge challenges when they’re born and their survival depends on the skills and judgment of the medical professionals that attend them. Premature babies suffer from a panoply of conditions which require intense surgical and drug therapies – everything from antibiotics to blood thinners, pain killers to heart medicines, lipids and hormones. A delicate balance must be maintained when administering these drugs. Correct combinations and accurate dosages are crucial; there is not much of a margin for error when treating a 600 gram newborn.

But our friend breathes a little easier at work because her unit has its own in-house pharmacist. Prior to this innovation nurses had to call the hospital pharmacy to get their questions answered. They never knew what the situation was when someone picked up the phone: am I speaking to a pharmacist or a tech? How knowledgeable is this person about my particular area of medicine? Do they have the time to attend to my question or are they busy with 100 other tasks? The dedicated NICU pharmacist knows their field. He understands the drug protocols. He is available for one-on-one counseling with physicians and nurses and possibly most important: he can save valuable time when special drugs need to be procured or questions must be answered before treatment can begin.

The world of modern drug therapy is complex and contradictory. Modern drugs can be miraculous life-savers which, in the wrong hands, can injure, maim and kill. The modern pharmacist has evolved from drug dispenser to one of therapeutic drug counselor. She is no longer so much tied to the medicine as to the patient, adding an important layer of knowledge and safety for patients and medical professionals alike.