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    Physician-pharmacist partnerships key to higher profits, future progress

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    Delivering clinical services in physician partnerships may be the most profitable use of pharmacists’ time — and don’t wait for CMS to grant pharmacists provider status to start. That’s the advice that Nicolette Mathey, PharmD, RPh, gave to listeners at McKesson’s ideaShare 2016 in Chicago.

    Providing clinical services that boost patient outcomes and cut total costs also positions pharmacists for bigger roles and bigger rewards under pay-for-performance and accountable care payment models, said Mathey, who is a consultant with Pharmacy Development Services, Palm Springs, Fla.

    Start with wellness visits

    Annual wellness visits (AWV) are a good place to start, Mathey said. She works with several independent pharmacists who provide AWVs in physician offices under collaborative practice agreements. Physicians bill AWVs as an adjunct service using their provider numbers, and pharmacists bill the physicians according to the practice agreement.

    Medicare pays about $170 for an AWV, and pharmacists can perform 10 per day, Mathey said. Two days’ work each week nets $3,400 — that’s $170,000 annually.

    “That covers a full-time clinical pharmacist’s salary, plus more,” Mathey said. It also leaves three days a week for pursuing other opportunities — such as performing clinical work in other physician offices. There are more than 115 Medicare billing codes for clinical services that pharmacists can provide, she added.

    Forging physician partnerships is challenging, Mathey acknowledged. But it’s also an opportunity for independent pharmacists to build physician partnerships before national chains step in, as they already havedone in hospitals.

    “We’re ahead of the chains on this, and we have to stay there,” Mathey said.

    Howard Larkin
    Howard Larkin is a health-care writer based in Oak Park, Ill.

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