To get control of drug plan management and the escalating costs, plan sponsors along with healthcare industry stakeholders need to work together. And the government has to get more involved too.
No, it’s not a revolutionary idea, but it’s something that must happen if long-term solutions are going to be developed-and be successful. The desire for teamwork arose in discussions at every one of the eight roundtables hosted by Pharmacy Post and BENEFITS CANADA on June 15 in Mississauga, Ont. as part of the annual Solutions in Drug Plan Management conference.
Geoff Johnson, manager, key account manager, trade and pharmacy relations at Wyeth Pharmaceuticals in Markham, Ont., acknowledged the prevailing attitude: “Government plans and healthcare tend to work in silos looking at their own bottom lines versus taking into account the broader impact of positive health outcomes on the overall healthcare system.” That attitude needs to change as Guy Pouliotte, executive director at the Public Service Health Care Plan in Gatineau, Quebec, pointed out. “The only common thread we have is cost, and as long as that is the common thread we’re not going to make progress,” he said.
A NEW PERSPECTIVE
Imma Monardo, manager, benefits and retirement arrangements, Cara Operations in Mississauga, Ont., thinks it is time to figure out how the stakeholders can work together to provide improved service now and in the future, not to invent new solutions. “We don’t have to reinvent the wheel,” she said, adding that what needs to be asked is how the players can better deliver, administer and manage medications and health services for employees. “You need people that are already there-frontline pharmacists are a prime example-to be partners in all of this and they are not necessarily utilized like they should be.”
“A lot of it depends on how engaged the employer is in their benefits and the health of their employees,” said Jeff May, vice-president, pharmacy, professional affairs, Shoppers Drug Mart. “If the employer is actively engaged and there are support programs in the workplace” then conversations about the employee’s health management are more productive.
AN OLD INGREDIENT
“I still see there is desire to [have a benefits and drug plan],” said Steve Bradie, senior vice-president and chief operating officer, Green Shield Canada, in Windsor, Ont. But individually tackling the numerous problems in providing these services is no longer an option. Recognizing the need to work together is an essential step, but only the first. The next step is to come together to coordinate synergistic solutions. And as Bradie noted: “It’s up to us to figure [out] how.”
Leigh Doyle is assistant editor of BENEFITS CANADA. firstname.lastname@example.org