Pharmacists are set to be pulled towards the centre of a rapidly changing community care model where digital health, changes in remuneration for health professionals and health provision teams are creating the biggest change in health care delivery since the invention of the car.
So says Dr Paul Grundy, global director of healthcare transformation, IBM and president, patient-centred primary care collaborative, at the APP2016 conference today.
Dr Grundy examined moves to remunerate health providers differently, heading towards a team-based model of managing populations of patients; he says that when doctors are paid to manage patients, instead of being paid a fee for each service, they become much more interested in working with allied health professionals including pharmacists.
A Michigan program first presented to APP by Dr Grundy six years ago is now in its seventh year, and has resulted in a 9.9% decrease in adult ER visits, a 27.5% decrease in adult ambulatory care sensitive inpatient stays and other significant quantified benefits.
The second big factor driving change is data, another area where pharmacy has significant advantages, Dr Grundy says.
“When there’s data in any industry, there’s an expectation that somebody’s going to be accountable for some of that data.”
For example if the tensile strength of steel can be measured, it becomes an expectation that engineers will incorporate this data when building a skyscraper.
When it’s understood that pharmacists should be part of the team managing complex patients their data will need to be incorporated into that process, as with the engineer and the skyscraper, Dr Grundy says.
“I think you are probably in a pretty good position here,” he says.
The third key driver is change in communication. Dr Grundy says younger generations will expect up to date methods of communicating with their health care team as a matter of course.
“They expect that you in your pharmacy are going to have an app for what they need. And there’s a huge opportunity for you because they perceive you as a place of access.”
The last time health professionals changed the way they communicate was with the advent of the car, he says, and doctors made house calls.