Advancing The Profession of Pharmacy

What to do when your “safe” career becomes a risky investment…

by | Jan 19, 2020 | Consulting Pharmacist Education

“Pharmacists in primary care can see patients in a covisit or a stand alone model in primary care RIGHT NOW, without provider status under CMS.”

Did you choose pharmacy as a career path because it was considered to be “safe?”

I’ve got news for you: thanks to the explosive growth of online availability and the gig economy, paradigm shifts are happening everywhere. NO market is truly “safe” if it insists on holding onto outdated modes of thinking and operating.

I thought my job was “safe”, that it until my position was eliminated…

 

These days, I believe relying on a single income stream is a riskier investment than starting a business!

The job market for community pharmacists has been shrinking. Walmart has seen a 3% reduction in pharmacy staff. Walgreens is closing stores nationwide. Freds, Kroger, Kmart– all are decreasing their investments in retail pharmacy sectors.  

That’s not entirely bad news, but it does require a new way of viewing our profession if we want to continue to strengthen the profession. As automation continues to replace pharmacists and technicians in retail stores, consultants pharmacists can adapt and take advantage of these market changes and create new job opportunities. 

We have to let go of what we thought our career would look like and build new skills to help us not only survive, but flourish during these changing times. 

 

I call this a time of Career Climate Change.

To better prepare for what lies ahead, I’ve put together three predictions for the next ten years of pharmacy. The key is to not get bogged down by fear or wait for these changes to happen TO you, but rather to use these predictions as incentive to become proactive CONSULTANT PHARMACISTS, prepared for entrepreneurship and the marketing of your skills.

 

Prediction #1: Dispensing will become increasingly automated and there will be less demand for pharmacists in retail settings.

With Amazon entering into pharmacy, we are seeing the beginnings of what is to come. Demand is steadily decreasing for a pharmacist in a brick and mortar store, when many consumers are choosing to have their prescriptions conveniently delivered at home.

I also expect technology, like Artificial Intelligence and 3D Printing, to be integrated into the pharmacy dispensing process in the near future as well.

Remember, though, Amazon first started with books, and the bookstore isn’t dead by any means, it just looks much different for consumers today who are choosing digital and audiobooks. Amazon itself adapted to be more than just a place to buy and sell books– and so should pharmacy.  Pharmacists are so much more than just bodies putting pills in a bottle. What we have to do is educate ourselves and others about the value a pharmacist can add.

To be successful, we must change the PERCEPTION of pharmacists.

 

Prediction #2: Pharmacists will dominate the preventative services niche.

There’s a trend occurring right now in holistic and functional medicine. While many physicians don’t currently embrace alternative methodologies of therapy, patients are seeking out these treatment options nonetheless.

Ask any pharmacist about a common symptom (take constipation for example), and you’ll likely hear five non-drug, lifestyle modification recommendations before they’ll actually suggest an OTC drug. The pharmacist, with their foundational knowledge of biochemistry, medicinal chemistry, pathophysiology, pharmacokinetics and pharmacology, can act as an interpreter for FDA-approved products with huge bodies of evidence, as well as for herbals, supplements and natural products where results must be inferred from much smaller studies.

The pharmacist can be the bridge that embraces alternative options, and helps the patient and physician navigate these treatments. This keeps the door open for patients who are seeking a more holistic approach, but still need or want the supervision of a physician (and may keep some patients from completely abandoning Western medicine altogether).

Again, to be successful, we must change the PERCEPTION of pharmacists.

 

Prediction #3: A large part of pharmacy revenue and pharmacists salary will be based around clinical services, with medication therapy management being at the epicenter.

It used to just be physicians only working in primary care. Today, you’re just as likely to see a physician’s assistant or nurse practitioner for a sick visit.

The next addition to the primary care model should be the consultant pharmacist.

In one evaluation of a family medicine practice, covisits generated an additional $4924.41 in 14 half-days or $158,291.04 over 1 year when compared with physician billing alone. Compared with separate visits, the covisit model increased estimated clinic revenue by $2757.89 over 14 half-days and $88,646.47 over 1 year.

“Pharmacists in primary care can see patients in a covisit or a stand alone model in primary care RIGHT NOW, without provider status under CMS.”

My vision in the next 10 years is to have pharmacists in primary care as commonplace as APNs or PAs. This business model, described in detail in the Pharmapreneur Academy e-Courses, is one we can show provides a solid ROI for payers and physicians.

So what next?

If you agree that this is the direction the profession is heading, you can’t keep doing things the same way. To ensure future stability and success, you’ll need to shift from an “employee” mindset to one of being a Pharmapreneur. That means advancing your skillset in order to monetize untapped opportunities, either in your current role, your next position– or by starting your own consulting practice.

 

The #1 thing that holds pharmacists back from making this change is they aren’t sure where to start and how to position themselves.

This is something I have been teaching pharmacists to do for the last 5 years through business coaching in the Pharmapreneur Academy Community.

Hundreds of pharmacists have implemented these techniques and found ways to increase demand for their services, basically eliminating their fear around Career Climate Change because they now know how to talk about their value.

 

Want to learn more about my predictions and how to prepare for the future as a Pharmapreneur?

This replay of my most recent webinar is a good place to start.

About the Author

Blair Thielemier, PharmD, is an MTM consultant pharmacist specializing in pharmacy billing models. She consults on and produces e-learning programs for state and national organizations, pharmacy wholesalers, payers, technology start-ups. She has books and online courses available for individuals looking to leverage their pharmacy knowledge into monetized clinical programs at PharmapreneurAcademy.com. She speaks internationally about trends in leveraging pharmacists to improve value-based care.

 

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