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Reforms in the Middle East, Changes in Pharmacy

Mar 28, 2011

Diane Ginsburg, M.S., FASHP

AS I WRITE THIS, the world is witnessing amazing changes in the Middle East. Citizens from Tunisia to Egypt–and now in Libya–are rising up, demanding an end to totalitarian regimes that have long suppressed their human rights. What has struck me as I’ve watched the news reports is just how organic the changes have been, how they started with ordinary citizens, and how no one seems to have been able to fully predict the swiftness or totality of changes that are happening.

This relates to pharmacy in a very real way, I believe. We are on the cusp of huge changes in our country’s health care system. Health care reform is pushing many of us to look with new eyes at the ways in which we ensure patient safety and quality of care. This issue of InterSections offers a peek into the future of our profession in several different, and fascinating, stories.

The cover story, “Gazing Into the Crystal Ball” features conversations with top pharmacy leaders about the ways in which ASHP’s Pharmacy Practice Model Initiative might potentially change the way we work. From a better use of properly educated, well-trained technicians; to improved work flow and collaboration with other health-care providers; to the introduction and deployment of new technologies, the world of pharmacy will look much different in the coming years from what many of us know.

Another story, “ACOs in the Age of Health Care Reform,” reveals how the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act of 2010 provides a plethora of opportunities for pharmacists to optimize their patient-care services. As health systems and physicians, groups create ACOs (Accountable Care Organizations) to reach the performance measures laid out in the Medicare Shared Savings Program, they are turning to pharmacists to fine-tune the management of chronic diseases, reduce hospital readmissions, and improve medication safety.

Sometimes in looking at where we’re going, it helps to look backward and see where we’ve been. The pace of change in pharmacy is readily apparent when you look at the innovations revealed by ASHP’s National Survey of Health-System Pharmacy Practice in the story titled “Use of Technology Growing, Pharmacists’ Roles Changing.” Each year, half of the survey focuses on two of six aspects of the medication-use system: prescribing, transcribing, dispensing, administration, monitoring, and patient education. The other half focuses on staffing or current hot topics and evolving issues. This story is a fascinating overview of just how far we’ve come in terms of pharmacists’ roles.

I hope you enjoy this issue of InterSections. It offers a real glimpse into the ways in which our profession is changing for the better!

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