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Author: Candace DeMatteis

This month, scholars at the UNC Eshelman School of Pharmacy joined other healthcare experts to share innovative research testing how pharmacists can address challenges in optimizing medication use and coordinating care.  The May-June edition of the North Carolina Medical Journal explores the expanding roles pharmacists play.  Though the articles represent a variety of perspectives, they share a common focus on patient-centered, team-based care that optimizes medication use to improve quality and lower total costs of care.

Several authors have significant ties to the UNC Eshelman School of Pharmacy and ongoing research at the Center for Medication Optimization through Practice and Policy (CMOPP).  UNC Eshelman School of Pharmacy Dean Bob Blouin served as guest editor for the edition and along with Campbell School of Pharmacy Dean Michael Adams penned the lead issue brief describing emerging opportunities and challenges facing both the pharmacy profession and healthcare reform generally.

Highlighting innovative approaches to addressing the misuse, overuse, and underuse of medications, Professor Joel Farley and co-authors and UNC colleagues Clinical Professor Stefanie Ferreri, CMOPP Director Jon Easter, and Associate Professor Mary Roth McClurg, describe ongoing research in North Carolina aimed at achieving patient-centered, collaborative care models that align with the value-based care movement.  Research efforts include testing a pay-for-performance pharmacist care model with Community Care of North Carolina and a Community Pharmacy Enhanced Services Network.   Another involves embedding pharmacists within primary care clinics in North Carolina, Minnesota, and other states to identify best practices and evaluate impact.

Preparing healthcare professionals to provide the team-based care new value-based care models demand requires re-thinking traditional education models.  Jon Easter, CMOPP Director, and Darren DeWalt, Associate Professor and Chief, Division of General Medicine and Clinical Epidemiology, at the UNC School of Medicine, describe elements of medication optimization and existing barriers to broader adoption, including the need for better interdisciplinary training to assist with team-based care practice models healthcare now demands.

Ben Urick, Research Assistant Professor at CMOPP, Patrick Brown, Research Collaborator and Adjunct Assistant Professor of Clinical Education, and Jon Easter, CMOPP Director, discuss the role pharmacists play in enhancing quality and lowering costs within state Medicaid programs.  The authors highlight several innovative medication optimization programs.  Specific recommendations for Medicaid reform opportunities within North Carolina and in other states are described in greater detail in a white paper developed by the Center for Medication Optimization through Practice and Policy.

An article by Troy Trygstad, Adjunct Associate Professor, examines testing of a value-based payment model in collaboration with Community Care of North Carolina under a multi-year Centers for Medicare and Medication Innovation grant. The NC Community Pharmacy Enhanced Services Network (CPESN), a network of more than 250 community pharmacies across North Carolina, are providing enhanced medication management services and are compensated based in part on the resulting health outcomes.  More details on these efforts will be featured in a future blog.

The articles featured in the May-June 2017 North Carolina Medical Journal showcase how pharmacists engage in direct patient care as a part of a care team to make a difference for patients.  Though the programs featured include many taking place within the state of North Carolina, the results and lessons learned will impact healthcare nationwide.


For more information about the innovative research underway at the Center for Medication Optimization through Practice and Policy, please visit our website.


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