NACDS promotes pharmacy’s contribution as NCQA mulls health quality standards

ALEXANDRIA, Va. In another bid to boost the standing of pharmacists in a changing healthcare system, the National Association of Chain Drug Stores urged a leading healthcare think-tank and advocacy group to adopt health quality standards that include a broader role for retail pharmacy professionals.

NACDS submitted comments to the National Committee for Quality Assurance regarding the role of pharmacy in an accountable care organization. Emerging as part of ongoing and sweeping reforms in the nation’s battered health system, ACOs are provider groups that accept responsibility for the costs and quality of care delivered to a specific population of patients, and work to lower those costs while improving care standards.

Founded in 1990, NCQA is a nonprofit organization aimed at improving the quality of the U.S. health system through objective analysis and the development of quality-of-care standards. The group sponsors a task force that developed qualifying criteria as a set of core capabilities that an ACO should demonstrate in order to be recognized as an accountable entity, and sought comments on this draft qualifying criteria.

In a letter to the NCQA, NACDS recommended that pharmacists be included as members of the ACO patient team. “Pharmacists are experts in medication use and serve on interdisciplinary patient-care teams to ensure medications are used safely, effectively and in a cost-conscious manner,” the letter stated.

The chain pharmacy group also urged that NCQA recognize medication therapy management as a core element of an ACO, given its importance in managing care to help improve patient health and reduce healthcare costs.

“Pharmacist-provided MTM is consistent with the goals of ACOs — improving health, improving the patient experience and reducing costs — and should be recognized as such,” NACDS told the health standards-setting organization.