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10/3/2000
Press Release

ASHP Calls for Increased Pharmacist Participation in Patient Care

A report released today by the Health Care Financing Administration (HCFA) on the quality of care provided to Medicare beneficiaries validates the need for health-system pharmacists to increase their involvement in patient care activities, according to the American Society of Health-System Pharmacists (ASHP). ASHP Executive Vice President and Chief Executive Officer Henri R. Manasse, Jr., Ph.D., Sc.D., called on the agency to include pharmacists in a planned quality improvement model. Manassse added that expanding pharmacists’ patient care roles will improve patient outcomes, thereby strengthening the nation’s health care system.

"Pharmacists are already making inroads in improving the quality of care for patients," said Manasse, pointing to recent research that shows that the involvement of pharmacists on patient-care teams can reduce the number of adverse drug reactions and improve outcomes. "This report underscores the need to fully utilize pharmacists’ medication-use and drug safety expertise."

In a study to be published in tomorrow’s Journal of the American Medical Association, HCFA evaluated the care received by Medicare beneficiaries undergoing treatment for six disease states—acute myocardial infarction, congestive heart failure, pneumonia, stroke, diabetes, and breast cancer. Researchers reviewed whether health care providers used 22 clinically accepted process-of-care measures to treat the conditions, including:

  • Early administration of aspirin and/or beta blockers on admission for patients with acute myocardial infarction, 
  • Influenza and pneumococcal vaccinations for patients with pneumonia, and     
  • Administration of warfarin, aspirin, or other antiplatelet medications on discharge for patients who have had a stroke.

Though essential to ensuring good drug therapy outcomes, pharmacist services are difficult to sustain under the current Medicare reimbursement schedule, according to ASHP President Mick L. Hunt, M.S., FASHP. "In order to enhance patient care fully, there must be a mechanism in place that compensates institutions for the important care that pharmacists provide."

ASHP is advocating that Congress address this access-to-care issue by including pharmacists as health care providers eligible to bill Medicare directly for the patient care services they provide. For more information on ASHP’s efforts on this issue, see www.ashp.org.

ASHP is the 30,000-member national professional association that represents pharmacists who practice in hospitals, health maintenance organizations, long-term care facilities, home care, and other components of health care systems. ASHP, which has a long history of medication-error prevention efforts, believes that the mission of pharmacists is to help people make the best use of medicines. Assisting pharmacists in fulfilling this mission is ASHP's primary objective. The Society has extensive publishing and educational programs designed to help members improve their delivery of pharmaceutical care, and it is the national accrediting organization for pharmacy residency and pharmacy technician training programs.