Medication therapy management: Patients will reimburse you

If you are wondering what your next strategic move should be in your community pharmacy practice, and if you are not currently providing medication therapy management (MTM) privately to patients, I have a testimonial to share with you from one of our members. This information is applicable whether you practice in chain, independent, ambulatory care, or clinic pharmacy, or see patients every day in some other type of pharmacy.

I am moved to share this quotation from a member with you because it is concise and speaks to a couple of the FAQs I get when speaking to pharmacists about starting their own MTM practice—part time or full time.

What about physician support? Will patients pay fair office fees?

Dr. MA e-mailed this to me yesterday after referring Mr. M to me:

"Mr. M is a lovely person (so is his wife). You can do so very much for them.

"Glad you are with me on this case. M"

This physician has asked me about my rates previously. She was kind enough to include an estimate of my fee in the conversation with her patients. I say kind because we have grown a respectful relationship. She wanted to know my rates so she would not misspeak. How many times have physicians misquoted a prescription price, leaving us with egg on our faces?

When a physician refers MTM patients to us in this way, the patients are ready to go by the time they call us. No PR needed. If they call with a realistic price in mind, the question about fee disappears.

When Mr. M spoke with me, he did not ask questions (not that I mind them). He said with determination, “I want a thorough assessment of my medicines, including drug interactions and any education you think that I need. So let’s schedule it.”

I wanted to share this because a version of this happens to me all the time.

Physicians are ready for us to participate. Consumers are ready to pay appropriately for it out of pocket!

When I did my homework to decide on fee level many, many years ago, I wanted my fees to approximate what I have to pay my lawyers, accountants, and architects. Do not undervalue the importance of pharmacology in today's world.

There is no longer any need to hold off starting your own MTM practice, even with one or two cases a month.

I totally agree with this pharmacist. With the passage of the Affordable Care Act, changes are coming.

Your first move could be as simple as having a professional sign printed that offers your medication review and counseling services on appointment for a stated fee. I've been suggesting to pharmacists that it's time to connect with local physician practices. Talk with them and their management about ways to respond as medical homes begin getting "built." Talk in concrete terms, in many states via a collaborative practice agreement, about how you can support their practice and help keep their patients on their medicines.

How can you share medical records for the benefit of your patients? Your pharmacy management system vendor may be able to help, as can the practice management system vendor for the prescribers you talk with. Approach the company in a collegial way.

You have a lot to offer! As anyone in practice knows today, it's a competitive world. If you don't make the connection soon, someone else might.