October is American Pharmacists Month – a monthlong celebration of the work that pharmacists do to support the health of their communities. At Cardinal Health, we are proud to join in this celebration.
Pharmacists are among the most trusted healthcare providers. Research released in January 2022 by Columbia University Mailman School of Public Health and Express Scripts® Pharmacy showed that U.S. pharmacists are trusted by their patients and expected to play an increasingly integral role in the management of their healthcare.
In honor of American Pharmacists Month, we sat down with Debbie Weitzman, new CEO of Cardinal Health’s Pharmaceutical Segment, to discuss the vital – and evolving – role that pharmacists play in keeping their communities healthy.
Q: If you were speaking to a pharmacist today about American Pharmacists Month, what would you say?
A: My first words would be, “Thank you!” Pharmacists are uniquely positioned in their communities. They have long-standing relationships with their patients. Their patients trust them and feel comfortable with them. Ultimately, pharmacists empower patients to take better care of themselves.
All of us at Cardinal Health recognize the many substantial contributions pharmacies have made to their communities, particularly over the past several years in the fight against the pandemic and in expanding clinical services. I have been so inspired by pharmacists’ resiliency and their commitment to continually pivot in times of uncertainty to best serve their communities.
Q: What do you expect will be drivers of change for pharmacists over the next three to five years?
A: Innovation is forcing rapid change, and consumers expect more advanced technology, patient care services, and improved efficiency in the pharmacy. Consumers are applying the same high expectations for technology in pharmacy that exist in other industries. They want options that are convenient for them in the moment.
I expect that we will see more pharmacists adjust some of their processes and/or incorporate new technologies to engage with their patients in new and impactful ways. Combining elements of the digital and physical worlds to develop highly personalized and relevant experiences for patients will be essential for the success of their pharmacy businesses.
Q: Can you share some of the ways that Cardinal Health is supporting the evolving role of pharmacists?
A: Cardinal Health joined the Future of Pharmacy Care Coalition, whose mission is to expand access to pharmacists’ services under Medicare Part B. The Coalition was largely responsible for getting the Equitable Community Access to Pharmacist Services Act (H.R. 7213) introduced in March of this year. The legislation would create a direct reimbursement mechanism to pay for pharmacists’ pandemic-related services (like vaccines, testing and treatment) provided to Medicare beneficiaries. This is an important way to ensure that pharmacists can continue to play a key role in the health of their communities, and we are proud to support and advocate for this legislation.
In addition, Cardinal Health is helping pharmacies bring innovation to their businesses by introducing them to new solutions including Cardinal Health™ Pharmacy Marketing Advantage PLUS (PMA PLUS), NavixRx™ Compliance Packaging, and the integration of our Reimbursement Consulting Services solution into our Outcomes platform, all of which enable pharmacists to rethink the way they operate their pharmacies.
Q: October 12 is Women’s Pharmacy Day, designated to celebrate the significant gains women have made in pursuing careers in pharmacy. Why is it important that we celebrate women in pharmacy?
A: Even though more than 60% of pharmacy school graduates today are women, only about 25% of pharmacies are owned by women, according to a study published in 2019 by the Pharmacy Workforce Center, Inc.
We want women to be able to go comfortably and confidently into the workforce as business owners as well as pharmacists. We need to rally around them and give them the tools they need to become business leaders and community leaders – because the pharmacy industry needs both women and men leaders.
On behalf of all of Cardinal Health: Thank you, pharmacists. We’re proud to celebrate you this month and throughout the year.
Debbie Weitzman has deep knowledge of the pharmaceutical industry and is a long-time champion of pharmacists. Most recently, she was president of Pharmaceutical Distribution and The Medicine Shoppe International, Inc. at Cardinal Health. She also led the launch of and now oversees Outcomes™, a unified ecosystem bringing together patient engagement, clinical intervention and pharmacy workflow solutions to enhance patient outcomes.