pharmacists and patient  Medication therapy management (MTM) is looking like the next new career opportunity for pharmacists as the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (PPACA), health plans, and employers press for its adoption. In the next few years, the pockets of innovation that presently exist across the United States are likely to be replicated and adapted to local areas, making pharmacists a pivotal part of the healthcare team and the drive to reduce global healthcare costs and improve quality.

The overall objectives of MTM are to stimulate savings across the board and to build fruitful partnerships between patients, pharmacists, and other members of the healthcare team so that patient outcomes are optimized. Accountable care organizations (ACOs) and the Medicare Shared Savings Program [see sidebar] that incorporate MTM services are expected to expand markedly in the next several years.

Ideal conditions

So far, MTM appears to work out best in geographic areas where strong collaborations between health plans and employers are in place. For example, it is especially strong in Minnesota and North Carolina.

In Minnesota, MTM has fast become a respected discipline, according to Lowell J. Anderson, DSc, FAPhA. "Pharmacists in the state teach MTM, offering preceptorships to our students," said Anderson, professor and co-director of the Center for Leading Healthcare Change at the University of Minnesota College of Pharmacy and manager of the MTM Network for UPlan, the university's employee health benefit plan. Pharmacists in Minnesota are in an advantageous position in comparison with their peers in many areas of the country, benefiting from years of strong cooperation between employer groups, health plans, universities, and a rock-solid recognition that team-based care is superior.

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