Sunday, January 2, 2011

Lobbying and communication

As I was watching my favorite collegiate football team go down in defeat during their bowl game on New Year's Day, a commercial came on that caught my eye. It basically told the story of a father and daughter as they went through life. The spot was titled "You Can Let Go" and (to me) showed the daughter letting her father know that he didn't need to fight against death any longer. He had raised her and she was letting him know that she was grown up now and that she would be fine if he passed away.

It was a touching commercial. Both my 5 year-old daughter and 6 year-old niece commented on how sad it was.

But my inner conspiracy-theory detector started going off. You see, several days ago I heard some commentary on the radio concerning the Affordable Care Act. When the bill was signed into law, a provision that called for end of life counseling every five years was not included. Some argued that the section that included this lead to "death panels".

Well now the end of life counseling sessions are back in the bill. This time through the rule-making process. And on an annual basis. The new rule says Medicare will cover “voluntary advance care planning” to discuss end-of-life treatment, as part of the annual visit.

My brain started playing a little game of Coincidence or Conspiracy. I thought it was funny how, shortly after the rule was made, commercials saying that it was alright to die started airing. Especially during an event (college bowl game) where there would be a large viewing audience.

I did a little checking, and from what I found it turns out to be coincidence.

Then I started thinking... this is just another example of the influence of the lobbying efforts of the different physician groups. Somehow they were able to get the advanced care planning changed from every 5 years to every year. They can bill for this service each and every year that their patient stays alive.

I thought a little more. Pharmacy has a lobby in Washington DC. But we seldom hear what is happening with the pharmacy lobby. We hear plenty about the lobbying efforts of Big Pharma, but not pharmacy.

I think it comes down to a communications issue.

You see, I like to gripe about things such as not being able to contract for my pharmaceutical care/ medication therapy management services with insurance companies. It turns out that there are a lot of barriers to this for pharmacists. Recently some changes were made to rules and regulations that will help pharmacists get contracted.

But I had no clue about this. I actually stumbled upon it as I was linking around on the APhA website. And I haven't been able to find the story since then.

As much as we like to rag on the APhA for being out of contact with the average pharmacist, I think that they might have our best interests at heart. But they need to communicate everything that they are doing on our behalf in a better manner.

I would love to see several tweets every day on issues that affect the profession of pharmacy. I'm not talking about clinical trials and new drug approvals. I'd love to know what is happening in DC and how the APhA is working for us. Perhaps if this information were to be pushed to us via the social media (as opposed to being buried in the APhA website or in a weekly email), more pharmacists would become more active in and less critical of the APhA. The AMA blasts emails and tweets on issues affecting their members several times each day, why not our organization?

Like I said, it's a communications thing. If the practicing pharmacist knows how the APhA is working for them, the pharmacist would be more inclined to support the organization.

As always, I'd love to hear your thoughts on this. Comments and emails are always appreciated. Comments get seen by everybody, emails only get seen by me.


blonde pharmacist said...

Hi it's so refreshing to find your blog. I used to blog a lot more often and working on getting back into voicing things online, all that to say it's nice to find a blog that isn't just complaining.

I have found pharmacists to be the strangest bunch. We are not, as a whole (that I have found) to be team players. We don't have each others' best interest at heart... we're a competitive bunch and sometimes overtly introverted. I actually LIKE my job OK, but I don't fit in with my peers because of personality -- most are introverted competitive perfectionists and until that changes and we band together... not sure anything will change.

I'd love to see more communication as well.

It's the key really.

The Redheaded Pharmacist said...

I think the APhA could be doing more to represent the profession and all of the individual pharmacists around the country but I do agree that the organization needs to maket what it is doing more effectively. And part of that marketing effort could be effectively using social media outlets like FB or Twitter to distribute information to pharmacists. Why they don't use those soical media outlets more is a question I can't answer!

Unknown said...

NCPA just picked up a new leader who came from GPhA. Should mean good things for that organization, which represents community pharmacists, especially independent owners. GPhA has been pretty successful in their lobbying efforts over recent years, with a biosimilar path now available. I'd watch that play develop.