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    Every pharmacist has them — and so does every teacher

    David Stanley, RPhOne thing I've learned over the years is that one of the easiest ways to break the ice with a stranger is to get them talking about their job. Ask a person what they do for a living, and follow their answer with “That must be hard,” and you'll be well on your way to getting through that awkward dinner party or reception full of people you've never met.

    You might also gain insight into some of the problems in your own profession, as happened when I struck up a conversation with a teacher more than happy to vent about the challenges of dealing with modern education policy.

    “You’re actually penalized for trying to make a difference for the people who need you the most,” she said.

    Metrics, metrics everywhere

    As she explained it, evaluations for teachers and financial terms for districts are based, in increasing part, on meeting the metrics handed down from above by inflexible bureaucrats who make no accommodation for the unique challenges of individual situations.

    Land a job in a posh, well-funded community full of supportive parents and motivated students, and the numbers may very well take care of themselves. End up in a poverty-stricken neighborhood with kids facing problems that their peers in better-off places never dream of, and you'll be working much harder and very likely end up penalized anyway.

    It wasn't until a few weeks later, when I received a letter from one of the major PBMs outlining new changes in its provider contract, that it started to sink in how much pharmacists are in the same boat as the people who educate our children.

    According to the new “take it or leave it” terms dictated by the insurance company, it will now be implementing a $5 per prescription fee on every claim, with the chance for the pharmacy to earn that money back by meeting certain “quality measures” as defined in the new contract.

    Finish toward the top percentile of your peers, and you'll most likely get your money back. End up in the bottom half, and your dollars — and most likely your chance to make a profit with this plan — are gone forever.

    David Stanley, RPh
    David Stanley is a pharmacy owner, blogger, and professional writer in northern California. Contact him at [email protected]

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