Why Healthcare Reform Isnt Just About Insurance

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(Photo by Win McNamee/Getty Images North America)

By Kimberly Reyes (@CommDuCoeur)

On March 23, 2010, President Obama signed his controversial Healthcare Reform Bill into law, with the objective of making healthcare more affordable and expanding coverage to the 32 million Americans that are currently uninsured, including self-employed individuals and low-income families.

Groups such as Physicians for Reform and Physicians for a National Health Program reflect the general endorsement from healthcare practitioners nationwide, but strictly from a birds-eye perspective. Overall, “treating someone without insurance is the most expensive way to provide care. Rather than having the cost and risk of their care pooled with others, the cost falls directly on the patient, who cannot afford it, and is taken on by hospitals and clinics struggling to stay open, notes practicing internist “PalMD, author of The White Coat Underground. However, as the effects of healthcare reform begin to take shape, so are concerns that doctors are being stretched thin by the influx of new patients.

Believe or not, Pharma is projected to play a significant role in alleviating the burden imposed on HCPs. Pharmacists are a critical component of our nations healthcare system, working in tandem with doctors to provide comprehensive patient care. According to a 2008 position paper released by the American College of Clinical Pharmacy in support of healthcare reform, “Pharmacists have extensive clinical knowledge and expertise in the use of medications, and are one of the most accessible of all health care professionals. Furthermore, their guidance on medication compliance and healthy living could potentially keep patients from flooding emergency rooms.

Drugmakers are expected to assist this effort with the proper educational tools for both physicians and patients on medication information and health management. Millions of new patients walking through hospital doors creates a demand for increased health literacy, and a crucial opportunity for Big Pharma to reclaim its battered image.

Pixels & Pills has previously covered the HITECH Act, which provides incentives for hospitals and HCPs to adopt the widespread use of electronic medical records. This will become an important venue in helping facilitate the cooperation and coordination between doctors and pharmacists as they are united by healthcare reform and the changing patient landscape. As a result of the HITECH Act, treating physicians have adopted mobile technologies and are turning to the Internet as a vital resource in their practice. It is imperative that Pharmaceutical companies make information on their drugs available and accessible to the doctors who look to technology to alleviate the strain from increased patient demands.

Beyond these points, the implications of Obama’s historic bill are undoubtedly widespread throughout the healthcare community. What are some other ways that Pharma can contribute to healthcare reform?

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