Pharmacists could be ‘patient coaches’ for a price

About Scott Hensley

Scott Hensley runs NPR's online health channel, Shots. Previously he was the founding editor of The Wall Street Journal's Health Blog and covered the drug industry and the Human Genome Project for the Journal. Hensley serves on AHCJ's board of directors. You can follow him at @ScottHensley.

A chance to reform health care is also a chance for some folks to make a case for a bigger share of the money sloshing around in the system.

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The Chicago Tribune’s Bruce Japsen reports on Walgreen CEO Greg Wasson’s idea to turn his drugstore chain’s 25,000-plus pharmacists into coaches for patients — for a price.

Half of patients stop talking their medicine after four or five months. Those lapses cost the health system big bucks on care that could have been avoided. Wasson’s pitch: Pay my pharmacists to consult with patients and keep them on the right path.

Pharmacies get about $2 to $4 to dispense a prescription, but the cost, according to Walgreen, is more like $10 each. No estimate on the price tag for mobilizing pharmacists as patient coaches across the country, but a pilot test of the approach in diabetics saved money, the Tribune writes.

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