USPHS Pharmacy Prepared to Lead

With nearly 1,200 Commissioned Corps pharmacists and more than 400 civilian and tribally-hired pharmacists serving across 15 federal agencies and five departments, U.S. Public Health Service Pharmacy has harnessed a dedicated cadre of pharmacists with diverse expertise and skill sets. The range of experiences and history of innovation, coupled with unique practice environments, position us to facilitate collaboration, expand our roles and improve the nation’s health. For 2012 and beyond, PHS pharmacists are prepared to lead as commissioned officers, as public-health professionals and as healthcare providers. The following three areas have generated interest and fostered success in 2011 and demonstrate our capacity to lead in 2012:

  • advancing the profession through partnerships and innovations
  • building capacity in emergency and disaster response
  • enhancing the nation’s health through prevention

Within each of these areas, numerous initiatives are under way that illustrate how PHS Pharmacy is addressing and responding to the dynamic landscape of challenges and opportunities.

Federal Partnerships and Innovations

There exists a recognized disparity between the demands of public health and provision of


Rear Adm. Scott Giberson, RPh, MPH, USPHS Commissioned Corps Chief Professional Officer, Pharmacy

healthcare with the fiscal and human resources available to alleviate the healthcare burden. Access to care, quality outcomes and cost-effectiveness, coupled with healthcare-provider shortages, provide a perfect medium for enhanced utilization of pharmacists in both the federal and non-federal sectors. Federal pharmacists have played a significant role in the federal healthcare system to bridge these gaps and improve public health, healthcare systems and consumer outcomes through expanded roles. Federal pharmacy practice environments and sustained inter-professional partnerships have given federal pharmacists the opportunity to facilitate the very changes that advance the profession. It is our shared responsibility to leverage these comparative advantages of our practice environment and work in partnership with key non-federal stakeholders to lead for the profession. Given this responsibility, federal-pharmacy leadership recently assessed and identified the need for a more uniform and formalized federal-pharmacist vision and scope of practice.

A 2010 call to action initiated the development of the Federal Pharmacist Vision. In April, 2010, the five federal-pharmacy chiefs from DoD, VA and PHS Pharmacy discussed the opportunity to further federal-pharmacist collaboration at the highest strategic level. In September 2010, we unanimously agreed to move forward with this initiative. Through numerous meetings, the federal-pharmacy chiefs, in consultation with many of our constituents, developed the first Federal Pharmacist Vision in January, 2011.

The consensus-built Federal Pharmacist Vision provides a platform to maximize the use of pharmacists, foster new paradigms of care and advance the profession to continue to improve the nation’s health.

The next steps in 2012 are to further define the scope of practice within this vision and implement initiatives where possible that sustain this vision.

As an example within PHS, HRSA established the Patient Safety and Clinical Pharmacy Services Collaborative (PSPC) — led by PHS pharmacists. PSPC integrates evidence-based clinical pharmacy services with a multidisciplinary team approach to improve patient safety and foster community partnerships in order to transform the nation’s healthcare delivery system. The PSPC expands the role of pharmacists and their provision of healthcare to high-risk, high-cost patients with multiple chronic conditions. More than 120 teams in 43 states are focused on delivering integrated care through patient-centered health homes, ultimately improving quality of care and patient safety.

Moving into its fourth year, the PSPC has partnered with the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services to enroll additional community teams in all 50 states. The PSPC is delivering critical, comprehensive patient-care services, as well as hard-wiring a new model of safer and better care into the nation’s healthcare-delivery system. The PSPC aims to meet its goal of integrating this model into 3,000 communities by 2015. 

The IHS provides another tangible example of the capacity to lead within PHS Pharmacy, which has a 50-year history of clinical innovations. The IHS has partnered with the North Dakota Prescription Drug Monitoring Program (PDMP), the Bureau of Justice Assistance, the Alliance of States with Prescription Monitoring Programs and others to develop a controlled-substance prescription data-transmission solution. As a result of this partnership, IHS facilities in North Dakota, South Dakota and Minnesota have the capacity to share controlled-substance data with a state PDMP. This program will serve as a deterrent for prescription-drug abuse while promoting effective clinical care. The goal is to provide access to this data-sharing on controlled-substance prescriptions for all IHS, tribal and urban Indian programs.

The IHS and the VA pharmacy programs have partnered on the VA Consolidated Mail Outpatient Pharmacy (CMOP) medication mail-out program. Through this partnership, the IHS utilizes the VA’s capacity to fill prescriptions at their CMOP prescription-filling factories to meet the IHS need for prescription dispensing and distribution. This will advance the IHS clinical-pharmacy practice by shifting some of the pharmacist’s time from the traditional role of dispensing to more clinical (and direct) patient care.

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