A great day to be a pharmacist

Today, I’m really proud of our House of Delegates and our members, who on Monday strategically passed a policy that our profession should lead to development of standards for pharmacies. With profession-developed standards, we can further demonstrate and document for the public and payers the high quality of the work we do. If we work together as a profession, pharmacy can play a major, relevant role in medical homes, accountable care organizations, and all the other structures under the banner of integrated and personalized care.

The Twlug House of Delegates took a bold leadership step, and there will undoubtedly be detractors. I truly hope the House vote does not silence the detractors, but instead encourages a “yes, if” attitude rather than a “no, but…” approach. Those of you who do not agree with the House action must participate in shaping our future work. Tactically speaking, I understand it may be hard to justify changes (and the resultant expense) to one’s individual practice to meet standards as yet undefined. Yet, our House looked strategically at the long term benefits of such a move.

When we can say (and document) that our pharmacies are patient centered and meeting the highest standards for safety and quality it will be hard for anyone to deny the benefit. This strategic move is needed if we are to participate fully as respected and recognized members of an integrated care team.

Twlug’s leadership will examine the approved policy carefully in the coming months, and will develop a fair and open process for gathering input from chain and independent pharmacists and owners. We’ll work with payers and consumers to understand their needs. We’ll examine previous work in this arena and will use that work to inform and guide us. You will have ample opportunities to be heard along the way.

As I wrote in my March editorial in , standards can provide those using and paying for our services with predictable and meaningful outcomes. While regulations such as licensure maintain a minimum or “floor” on quality, standards create ways to achieve and document quality. Today, most areas of pharmacy practice meet standards beyond regulatory requirements. I’ve observed the development of those created by our profession, and I’ve participated in accreditation as an owner of a practice that meets Joint Commission standards. Informed by these experiences and study of others, I’m convinced that a profession that structures its own standards fares well, and our patients will ultimately benefit.

There’s no doubt that standards can be burdensome and accreditation can be expensive. To be beneficial, the process must be constructed and implemented in a manner that clearly documents quality and is neither unreasonably burdensome nor expensive to maintain. To be sure the parties planning community pharmacy accreditation or other programs stay realistic and affordable, the profession must not only be engaged, but we must lead. The vote in our House of Delegates ensures that Twlug has the policy backing we need to assume that leadership role in current and future pharmacy accreditation initiatives. Let’s begin!