Provider Status – Are we on the Team or Just on the Sidelines?

By David Witmer posted 09-27-2012 08:32


Policy week is always a highlight of the year here at ASHP. Thought leaders from around the country gather for the week to discuss and debate policy questions and it always leaves me with a renewed sense of purpose (and lots of new and challenging projects). In an earlier blog I recognized the efforts of RADM Scott Giberson and other federal pharmacists for submitting a report to the U.S. Surgeon General entitled “Improving Patient and Health System Outcomes through Advanced Pharmacy Practice-A Report to the U.S. Surgeon General 2011.” 

Last week , RADM Giberson’s efforts were recognized when he was selected to present the William A. Zellmer Lecture during ASHP Policy Week.  The lecture is presented to Board and Council members during a luncheon and his lecture this year was one of the most thought provoking inspiring commentaries that I have heard in some time.  RADM Giberson is one of those rare leaders among us that doesn’t just articulate a vision, but holds us accountable for achieving that vision.  Pharmacists for some time have desired to be recognized as providers, yet as RADM Giberson notes, we continue to be one of the most underutilized health professions. He challenged us to think and act like the “providers” that we are and to describe our role in how we care for and manage patients rather than expressing our value in terms of how we “manage drugs”.

Some have argued that changes in health care reform will result in changes to how care is reimbursed and that as a result the profession no longer needs to be concerned with being recognized as providers by Medicare. But Giberson challenged this thinking. He used powerful analogies throughout his lecture to tell a meaningful story and one that stuck with me was comparing provider status to being on the team or being the water boy.  Are we a provider who is participating with the rest of the team, or are we merely there to assist the team. If we are not recognized as a caregiver, our role will always be marginalized regardless of how care is ultimately reimbursed.

Recently I have also participated in a variety of discussions about credentialing and privileging of pharmacists. A colleague recently sent me a presentation made by Darryl Rich (formerly with the Joint Commission) that includes a section describing Joint Commission’s requirements. This presentation starts with a slide that asks “Do you really want to go through it?” and ends with a question “So…. Is it worth it?” My answer to both of Darryl’s questions is an unequivocal YES.  If we want to be recognized as providers, how can we not?  Other “providers” are credentialed and privileged. Yes, it requires significant effort, but if we want to be providers then we need to act like providers and participate in the same quality assurance processes as other providers. 

I again want to applaud RADM Giberson for his role in developing the landmark report to the Surgeon General, but even more importantly for boldly challenging all of us to get out of our comfort zones and take ownership of our role as providers of patient care. Let’s set a goal to make the team this year and get off the sidelines and onto the playing field.

#provider #priviledging #credentialing #Accreditation