Goblins and ghouls. Witches and monsters. Headless horsemen and jack o lanterns. That’s what most people think about around this time of year. It’s Halloween! My house is a bit of a construction zone for the entire week. My husband takes this opportunity to create something for children to experience. A few find fear in the front creepy castle or the long walk across the haunted bridge around back. This year we fear the rain may get the best of us. We will be working diligently night and day to get ready for the big day.
So there’s some of the fear surrounding the week and weekend. Let me tell you about what I fear. It may not be what you are thinking. I genuinely fear for our profession. It is a true fear that has awaken me from sleep a few nights recently.
We all plan for the future. We invest money in our retirement funds, save up vacation days, put away for children’s college, the list goes on and on. Most of us are fortunate in the fact we make a nice salary to assist in all these areas. What if that nice salary isn’t available anymore? So many of my colleagues are quick to complain about the new reimbursement models and low dispensing fees in today’s retail pharmacy space. It is hard. As I have said before we have more work and less time to complete all of our tasks. However, automation could completely take over those tasks as of right now! If you do not think a corporation could come in with robots to replace us you are sadly mistaken. We have to give value…we have to prove outcomes…we have to show we CARE!
My fear is that so many practicing pharmacists will just give up. They will take whatever is handed to them and lose sight of the end goal. And they should be scared of the robots. With some great opportunities on the horizon many of us sit back and wait for instructions on the next step. We must find some hope and avoid the doom and gloom. It scares me that I do not know what the next practice model will look like…but I will not let that fear take me down. I will instead harness the anxiety and do something productive.
For example, we talk so much about provider status. Ok so we gain provider status… what’s next? How are we billing? What services are we providing? We must have sustainability and the only way to get there is to keep pushing and innovating. Look at the current medication administration rates for vaccinating patients. That is an extreme increase in your pharmacy’s bottom line. What if you were reimbursed for patient education? Oh wait…you can be! What if you were reimbursed for cessation counseling? Not there yet, but by golly we can be.
I read a fantastic article on Chronic Care Management Codes. So many physicians are shying away from the process. They are worried about audits and amount of work for payment. One practitioner did speak on the success of his program. He stated many of the requirements were things they were already doing with patients. The documentation is the difference. Yes, you must show data. He hired another LPN to assist with the paperwork. Sound familiar? Pharmacists, I know you are short on time. Hire another technician…or office manager.
I feel like we are scratching the surface on some great things. I am just not sure scratching is going to get us there. You may remember the “how many licks does it take to get to the center of the Tootsie Pop?” We have got to dive in! Start doing something in your pharmacy. Whether you support provider status or not…get over it. You ARE a healthcare provider. Period. We have to take some responsibility. Begin a chronic care documentation process. We can show payers. If we make enough noise and bite really hard…only kidding…we can get someone to notice. You will live in fear if you do not stand up for yourself.
Bet you didn’t see that one coming after the Halloween intro? I am making a commitment to this profession. I will never give up. I will not be replaced by a robot.