Interdisciplinary Communication Grant

Our traditional healthcare system has existed as a “silo-system” where all healthcare providers, from physicians to pharmacists, worked exclusively within their own department, or silo. This paradigm has fostered poor communication and inefficiencies throughout our healthcare system. Each silo of care was encouraged to ask patients redundant questions and needlessly repeat expensive tests, sowing the seeds of animosity between different healthcare fields. Ultimately, these poor communication methods culminate in poor healthcare outcomes that cost patients more. Recently, I had the privilege of participating in a grant that focused on improving patient outcomes through interprofessional communication, tearing down these silos to create a seamless continuum of care.

The goal of the grant was to show how patient outcomes are improved when different healthcare specialties act as a team to work together. This was accomplished by getting different students, working in their respective fields of patient centered care, to sit down and work together at improving our communication methods with each other and our patients. Students were drawn from specialties such as nurse practitioners, dentistry, social work, and pharmacy and were brought together under one roof to work on communication at every level of care. Historically these specialties have never worked together, which I think is a disservice to our patients.

Over the course of my time working on the grant, we met several times with students I would have never had the chance to meet otherwise. Prior to working with these other professional students, I can clearly state that I had no appreciation of the impact their professions have on patients. By working together, I was able to learn how interdisciplinary communication provides us an opportunity to improve the value of our nation’s healthcare. I was able to quickly and succinctly answer drug questions fielded from patients and clinicians, saving time, while ensuring that the information was pertinent and accurate. Not only did the other professional students appreciate having a medication specialist available to them, but also more importantly, so did the patient.

Before participating in the grant, I was unsure of how much I could help improve outcomes by working directly with clinicians and patients. But after sitting in the room with other professionals, answering questions and having my own questions answered, I quickly knew how powerful this opportunity was to the healthcare team, as well as to our patients. After my experience with the grant I hope that this level of interdisciplinary communication will spread throughout the healthcare system. And while the grant is still ongoing, and the jury is still out evaluating the impact of interdisciplinary communication, I am convinced that it will be a massive success.

Matt Crowley, PharmD Candidate 2014
UMKC School of Pharmacy
MPA Rotation Student, April 2014


MPA: Working hard for the pharmacists of Missouri

Crowley, Matt

Matt Crowley, PharmD Candidate 2014, UMKC School of Pharmacy

I have been a member of MPA for a while now, receiving emails of MPA initiatives and accomplishments. But I never put much thought into what the association truly does, and the amount of work that it takes. On my first day of working hands on at the MPA headquarters in Jefferson City, I was impressed with how open everyone was. They are genuinely excited about the vision of the association, and are constantly seeking ways to spread that energy and excitement throughout the pharmacy community. Every member of the MPA staff was eager to get me on board with their respective project, seeking ways to improve the utilization of pharmacists in ways I never imagined. They are constantly incorporating the best ideas from pharmacists around the state, as well as the nation, into the practice of pharmacy in Missouri.

Once they have an idea, the real work begins to start. The staff is genuinely interested in finding ways to implement common sense ideas to improve the prospects of MPA members. They are seeking ways to better utilize pharmacist’s clinical expertise, which creates better healthcare outcomes for our patients. To effectively do this requires tight coordination within the organization, as well as with pharmacists throughout the state. The MPA sees the immense potential that pharmacists have in improving patient outcomes. Therefore they are constantly working on different ways to get pharmacists involved in the MPA’s processes.

The MPA realizes that pharmacists working on the front lines of healthcare are the best source of information about the issues that really matter. Practicing pharmacists understand the impact that policy changes have on their patients and their business better than anyone else. So it naturally makes sense that seeking input from these individuals is vital for maximizing the impact that pharmacists can make on the care of our patients. Every day I work with the MPA is a day that I see them improving the prospects of pharmacists throughout the state. They are working with individual pharmacists, healthcare organizations, regulatory officials, and the legislature in order to implement the ideas that you and I know are best for the healthcare of our patients. All this is made even more impressive by the small staff that the MPA uses to provide all the services that offered to members.

Upon first arriving at the MPA office, I was immediately struck by the accomplishments being produced by the small team. The team is able to efficiently utilize limited resources to produce results that advance the profession of pharmacy throughout the state. Through their hard work, as well as effective partnerships with other organizations, they are working on projects that help to guarantee that pharmacists stay at the forefront of healthcare through the 21st century. This expansion of pharmacist services ensures that there is a future for pharmacists in the healthcare system. And what is good for pharmacists in Missouri, is good for the patients that we serve.

Matt Crowley
PharmD Candidate 2014
UMKC School of Pharmacy

When will pharmacists be recognized as health care practitioners?

So the title may be a bit misleading, there is still a long way to go for pharmacists’ recognition as health care providers. Numerous studies have illustrated the benefits of pharmacists in an expanded role, including the notable Asheville Project, started back in 1996, but the profession as a whole has not received enough of the needed support to fully assume the desired position with other health care members. Despite reports by the United States Public Health Service and even a former Surgeon General supporting pharmacists’ recognition as health care providers, legislation and policy still limit a pharmacist’s role in optimizing patient outcomes. Section 1861 of the Social Security Act doesn’t yet recognize pharmacists as health care providers, limiting the scope of practice and reimbursement of pharmacists throughout the health care system. In fact, access to Medicare Part B outpatient services are stymied by this absence of recognition, leading other health plans to follow Medicare’s footsteps and prevent coverage to patients and compensation to pharmacists for patient-centered care programs.

Now, in those last few sentences some people heard “reimbursement” and “compensation,” thinking that pharmacists are just pushing for provider status to line their pockets with more money, but that’s not the case. The case is that, without a certain amount of compensation, pharmacist-provided programs and medication therapy services (MTS) will never garner traction. No patient would expect a free office visit to the physician regardless of whether a prescription was written, so why is it so objectionable that pharmacists expect payment for such cognitive services as well? Given the amount of schooling pharmacists have to receive, their current utilization for health care services is questionable, to say the least. Beyond the previous arguments, without widespread implementation of such programs, overall health costs will not improve and patient care will stay suboptimal. While pharmacists do have some MTS capabilities in Missouri, the actual implementation of such services has not been widely accepted, mainly due to funding issues from lack of reimbursement.

With California’s acceptance of pharmacists as providers, a new precedent has been set. California pharmacists have been given many new clinical roles they may take on, and has set the standard for other states to emulate. The federal government has also created legislation to amend the Social Security Act, but this has only been recently introduced and needs much more support before Medicare Part B gives provider-status recognition to pharmacists. Until then, I urge you to continue supporting your local, state, and national organizations to push for pharmacist provider status. Without a continued and sustained effort, pharmacists may never receive the recognition they justly deserve.

Andrew Mehrle
PharmD candidate 2014
UMKC School of Pharmacy
Missouri Pharmacy Association Rotation Student, March 2014

Pharmacist of the Day Teamwork

Kebodeaux, Clark

Clark Kebodeaux, St. Louis College of Pharmacy

Last Wednesday, I had the opportunity to participate in the ‘Pharmacist of the Day’ with MPA CEO Ron Fitzwater, MPA Colleague Randy Meents, and Andrew Mehrle, a student pharmacist on rotation with MPA.  It was a great experience and we were able to visit multiple legislators and promote legislation that would be beneficial for pharmacy and the patients we serve.  In particular, we discussed bills related to fairness in MAC pricing, expanding allowable pharmacist immunizations, and promoting a prescription drug monitoring program bill that has already been passed by the house.  While our schedules worked out that we shared the pharmacist of the day responsibilities, I really enjoyed working with the team because we worked well together visiting all of our legislators and fielding questions as they arose.  In addition, we were able to meet with a few legislators not on the schedule as Ron was able to help us catch pertinent legislators as we moved throughout the capital.

One specific instance stuck out to me that emphasized the importance of all MPA members and Missouri Pharmacists to participating in the Pharmacist of the Day initiative.   We were able to speak with Rep. Kimberly Gardner who represents District 077 (which includes St. Louis College of Pharmacy) and she came off the floor to meet us and had questions for us as well.  She had a few questions related to compounding and as a team we were able to provide information quickly and set the table for a brief but good discussion about the issues that affected pharmacists.  This showed the importance of being there for your legislators just by being a part of the process.  I look forward to using this opportunity to further engage my legislators during Missouri Legislative Day and encourage you all to do the same!


Clark Kebodeaux, Pharm.D., BCACP
Assistant Professor of Pharmacy Practice
St. Louis College of Pharmacy

Pharmacists are Key to Health Insurance Literacy and Enrollment as Deadline Approaches

Guest blog by George L. Oestreich, Pharm.D., MPA

We see patients daily in our practices that are either uninsured or underinsured.  It becomes more difficult daily to find resources that can support their care outside of the organized healthcare system.  While pharmacists can greatly assist in wellness, early disease identification and disease management is all but impossible if the patient does not have reasonable healthcare coverage. Our patients respect us as healthcare providers and we are by far the most accessible.  That is true too in making positive choices in healthcare insurance coverage. In fact, according to a 2013 study conducted by Lake Research Partners for Enroll America, health care providers are among the most effective messengers for communicating the importance of health insurance, especially to young adults.

As pharmacists, we understand the needs of our patients, and can provide those individuals with tangible, easy-to-understand examples about their health and health care options. For instance, through cost-sharing reductions and other provisions outlined in the ACA, prescription medication is now more affordable for lower income individuals who may not have previously been able to afford insurance or would avoid filling their prescriptions due to cost. These provisions can help individuals pay out of pocket costs like deductibles and co-payments, but are not easily understood.

As more and more Missourians continue to get covered, we are uniquely positioned to provide our patients with unbiased and factual information, especially to newly insured individuals. It is an exciting time to expand our outreach and more thoroughly use our skills and training to help new and existing patients stay on top of their health, and take advantage of preventive medicine.

Please use these last few days of first year enrollment to facilitate more Missourians to seek health insurance coverage.  A health insurance covered patient with a well-trained pharmacist will be a team that can make a significant and positive difference in healthcare status.  The end of March is but weeks away.  Please act now to make sure all of your patients choose to obtain healthcare insurance! To access plain-language educational materials, tools and other expert resources you can use to help inform others, please visit

The Cover Missouri Coalition – a project of the Missouri Foundation for Health – seeks to educate Missourians about the important benefits of health care coverage by providing accurate, unbiased information about the new health care law.