Guest blog post: Hershey S. Bell, MD, Dean of the LECOM School of Pharmacy

Note to readers from Twlug Executive Vice President and CEO Tom Menighan: I’ve invited Hershey S. Bell, MD, MS, FAAFP, Professor, Vice President of Academic Affairs, and Dean, LECOM School of Pharmacy, to contribute a guest CEO Blog post on interprofessional collaboration.

As a family physician and the Dean of the LECOM School of Pharmacy, I live at the intersection of the possibilities offered by interprofessional collaboration. I urge my students to present themselves as “equal partners in health care” in every interprofessional setting in which they learn. I constantly send e-mails with links to articles about successful interprofessional collaborations between pharmacists, physicians, and others to encourage them to think about new opportunities for practice. I remind them of the many mechanisms available for pharmacists to create a viable business plan for offering their services in the clinical environment (e.g., medication therapy management, pay-for-performance enhancement, incident-to billing, E&M code enhancement, hospital-based clinics, cost savings to health systems). And I remind them that the holy grail of achieving “provider status” with the potential of Medicare Part B billing (while being immensely beneficial) is not necessary to get involved right now.

On July 11, CMS published its . It included a separate payment to physicians for chronic care management services. For patients with two or more chronic illnesses, a payment of $41.92 per patient per month is proposed. And further, the agency is allowing for greater flexibility in the supervision of clinical staff who can provide these services.

It truly is time for pharmacists to declare themselves ready and willing to take a major lead in creating and implementing interprofessional chronic disease management programs and to act as equal partners in health care with physicians in this arena. What is the business plan? Imagine a practice with 1,000 patients who have two or more chronic diseases.  At $41.92 per patient per month … well, the math speaks for itself.

It is important to remember acting Deputy Surgeon General Scott Giberson’s thoughts on chronic disease management. He reminds us that physicians are experts at diagnosis and it often takes one or two visits to correctly diagnose a chronic illness. However, 80% of these patients will end up on medications for the remainder of their lifetime. Who is better positioned to manage the lifetime of living with chronic disease than a pharmacist in an effective collaborative relationship with a physician?