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Getting to the “Heart” of The Siteless Model (Post Script to My Three Part Series)

August 22, 2018
Posted by: Gerald “Pharmacist Jerry” Finken, RPh, MS

Siteless

When I ask a pharmacist what a pharmacist does, they invariably tell me they dispense medication.  I used to answer this question the same way, but not anymore. I have come to realize that the reason for this answer is because it’s very difficult to explain what we really do in terms of cost as well as value.  The cost of something is generally understood and accepted by all, whereas the value of something is understood and accepted individually.  To me, dispensing is the cost associated with the practice of pharmacy and our servant leadership is the value of the practice.

The problem with the simple answer is that the quantitative, dispensing aspect of the practice of pharmacy, by default, now defines our worth i.e., the number of prescriptions filled per hour or per day or per pharmacist, dispensing fees, WAC or FUL or MAC, etc.  Why? These things are tangible, measurable and easily relatable to the financial bottom line.  In my opinion this is because of big box chain pharmacies, PBMs, insurance companies, and let’s also remember that the federal government has tried to commoditize our profession as all of the aforementioned fight over the same dollar cost of our dispensing.

I have a big problem with this. Dispensing is only a small piece of what we actually do as a professional and has very little to do with the reason I became a pharmacist.

My older sister was the one who suggested I should look at trying to get into pharmacy school.  I had an interest in healthcare and in helping people.  I, like most people, asked “what does a pharmacist do?”  She told me that pharmacists are healthcare professionals who help people and are respected members of the community. I have always been amazed that she did not describe the role of the pharmacist as someone who dispenses medication, but rather as someone who could help people.  Although, I have never lost sight of why I became a pharmacist, I know that somewhere along the line, the perceived role and value of a pharmacist has changed to only what can be measured in business, and in doing so ignores the most important deliverable of all – heart.

This is why it may be difficult for many to understand and even accept the practice of pharmacy and our servant leadership role because what the pharmacist really dispenses to people is their heart—what we love to do and what we care about most. In today’s data and technology driven business world how does one give an elevator pitch on caring, understanding, listening, suggesting and most importantly, loving.  During my 36-year tenure in clinical research I have come to realize that this servant leadership role is what is missing from the “data” in clinical research—and even healthcare today.

Center Point was established and the siteless model created because at the heart of clinical research is the practice of pharmacy.  If we step away from our fears and what we have been taught, the habits we have developed, the processes we have learned and think about our personal lives as people in a community, I believe everyone will have that “gut feeling” that we all need the practice of pharmacy in clinical research and in our lives.

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