The Surgeon General’s Report – A Strong Endorsement For Ambulatory Care Pharmacy Practice

If you haven't read Improving Patient and Health System Outcomes through Advanced Pharmacy Practice. A Report of the US Surgeon General, you should! The report articulates what we’ve known for a long time – the knowledge and experience of pharmacists, particularly in primary care settings, is underutilized and that current payment mechanism for “advanced” (aka clinical) pharmacy services thwart optimal patient care. The report, released by the Office of the Chief Pharmacist for the United States Public Health Service, strongly affirms the value of integrating clinically trained pharmacists into primary care practices and provides evidence of how clinical pharmacy services improve patient and health system outcomes. The report contends that payment reform is needed in order to make these practices financially viable and makes a strong argument for recognizing pharmacists as providers under the Social Security Act. The Surgeon General’s report is perhaps the strongest endorsement ever written by a government agency regarding the need to make pharmacists fully integrated members of the primary care team. Moreover, the report declares (with some urgency from a public health perspective) that changes in compensation mechanisms are needed to make clinical pharmacy services available to most Americans.  

As I read the report, I felt a sense of pride about what we’ve accomplished over the past two decades. I’ve never read such a ringing affirmation of what we do as ambulatory care pharmacists. Our colleagues in the Public Health Services who authored the report should be commended for summarizing the literature so well and crafting strong, unflinching recommendations. Now we need to capitalize on our momentum to make payment reform for clinical pharmacy services in primary care settings a reality. If you have not already signed the e-petition that has been circulating over the past several weeks to recognize pharmacists as providers, I encourage you to do so. And while you’re at it, write your congressman. It’s an election year after all.

   **Stuart T. Haines**

For a more comprehensive analysis regarding the Surgeon General's report with some provocative questions to ponder, visit our discussion board on this topic.

For more information about how you can get involved as an advocate for clinical pharmacy services, visit:

    American College of Clinical Pharmacy - Advocacy Resources
    American Pharmacists Association - Government Affairs
    American Society of Health-System Pharmacists - Grassroots Network