Merger is a wake-up call
The merger of Omnicare and CVS should be a wake-up call for the entire healthcare industry because it puts a spotlight on the changes in the new post-acute care environment — long-term care and community-based services can and must work together.
For economic as well as quality-of-care reasons, the post-acute care world increasingly is focusing on home and community-based services, an area in which CVS is a leader. It has been a pioneer in bringing other medical care professionals and primary care to its pharmacies through its innovative, walk-in “Minute Clinics,” changing many people's perception of the kind of services a pharmacy can provide.
So it is no surprise to see a national pharmacy chain like CVS invest in a national long-term care pharmacy provider, the other side of the coin. The addition of Omnicare's long-term care expertise to CVS's strong community presence as both pharmacy and medical service provider positions CVS to deliver affordable, accessible, patient-centric care.
Today, pharmacists and other health professionals must focus on three ways to provide better health care: Improve the patient's healthcare experience, improve the overall health of diverse populations, and reduce per capita costs. Those are aims these two healthcare giants can tackle together.
CVS and Omnicare have been leaders in their respective markets, but those markets are changing. Providers need to ask themselves:
What business should I be in?
Who will be my partners?
What will my role be?
Who will be my customers?
This is what the CVS acquisition is all about.
For consultant pharmacists this announcement could be an industry game-changer or an opportunity. The merger should be a wake-up call for all pharmacists, but particularly for consultant pharmacists. It demonstrates the increased need for the nontraditional roles that consultant pharmacists play, both inside and outside nursing facilities. Pharmacists are one of the few professionals who have this “double-sided” expertise, equally at home in the community and in long-term care settings.
For more than 45 years, the American Society of Consultant Pharmacists has been creating and delivering quality education to pharmacists who, in turn, provide pharmaceutical care to long-term care residents. The clinical services that ASCP members provide have universal application to seniors, regardless of their care setting. The merger of CVS and Omnicare gives consultant pharmacists a larger playing field, one in which they are major players in the healthcare team. ASCP and its members are experts in providing medication therapy and education to older adults. In this new, post-acute care environment, they can meet the medication needs of all citizens, bridging the gap between the community and the long-term care settings.
Frank L. Grosso, RPh, is the CEO and executive director at the American Society of Consultant Pharmacists.