WAILEA, Hawaii -- David Maher, president and chief operating officer of American Stores Co., Salt Lake City, views the transformation of today's health care system as the impetus for community pharmacy to move beyond its traditional distribution function.
"We are shifting from managers of product to managers of information," Maher said in an opening address here during the 45th annual meeting of the National Association of Chain Drug Stores, April 27 to May 1. Maher, who has over 33 years experience in drug retailing, made his remarks as outgoing NACDS chairman of the board.
He urged those drug retailers attending the meeting to "put doc [doctor] back in the pharmacy" by providing counseling services and becoming a community health care information resource.
Community pharmacy is a vital component in the total disease management approach, said Maher. It can keep patients healthy and help cut their medical costs by playing a key role in information, specialized patient education, screening for diseases, follow-up and all services which help ensure that patients receive comprehensive care.
Maher said he believes managed care entities will eventually compensate pharmacists for their services and their help in managing the costs of drug therapy. "Our pharmacies must change to merge the disciplines of category management with those of disease-state management," he added.
With its access to detailed patient information, drug retailers also have the opportunity to expand their product offerings into related health care categories such as home-medical equipment, alternative medicines, sports nutrition and diagnostic testing.
Technology is seen by Maher as the driving force that can quickly revolutionize community pharmacy. New electronic systems will give retail pharmacies opportunities for therapeutic interchange, increased generic substitution, disease management, enhanced patient compliance and outcomes information, he mentioned.
"Many of the technological developments will help to provide short-term benefits on reducing labor cost in the pharmacy, but most important, provide the opportunity to build the relations between physician, patient and pharmacist," said Maher.
Maher pointed to the growing need for retailer/supplier alliances that can provide a more efficient supply chain and reduced inventories and labor costs. With the appropriate data, such alliances also can help get the right product on the shelf.