Making the most of the HCP rescheduling
Friday, September 12, 2014
When life hands you lemons ... well ... you know the saying.
Like me, you have probably heard enough of the moaning and groaning related to the upcoming Oct. 6 DEA rescheduling of hydrocodone-containing products (HCPs). I've certainly voiced my objection. Now it is time to face the facts. It's coming. There's no stopping it.
But maybe we can take this lemon of a law and squeeze out some valuable lemonade. The fact is that we, as pharmacists, have a unique opportunity here to engage and inform both the public and other healthcare professionals about the upcoming changes to hydrocodone product prescribing and dispensing.
The fact is that many pharmacists and pharmacies will let this change happen and entirely miss the opportunity to advance their own profession, their own career or their own business. Don't make that mistake. Be proactive.
I recommend that you take some time to communicate what is going to happen on Oct. 6 to those within your immediate circle of influence. Who might that be?
You live somewhere, right? I suspect there are people in your neighborhood and community who will be confused, upset and looking for answers come early October. Why not draft a brief "letter to the editor" of your local newspaper to explain the changes that are coming? Who better than you, the pharmacist, to educate the public about changes in pharmacy law?
What about the local senior center in town or a senior housing complex. I know that many of my legitimate chronic pain patients will be impacted by this change. Could you schedule a time to chat with them? Explain what the practical implications of this change will be?
The doctors, nurse practitioners, physician assistants and other prescribers in your area are going to be asked a lot of questions about this. Some of them may not write many Schedule II prescriptions, but frequently (and appropriately) used HCPs to treat short-term and long-term pain in their patients. Now they have to choose between writing a Schedule II prescription and switching patients to something else that may or may not work.
Could you draft a one-page fax that outlines the details of the change and briefly reminds them of the laws pertaining to writing of Schedule II controlled substances in your state? And please, if you put the work into doing this, make sure you get the credit for it.
Put your name on it. You may also want to include information about your pharmacy. But don't be so shy as to not get credit for your efforts. These little things help position you as a part of the local healthcare team.
Believe it or not, most of your staff at the pharmacy are not going home thinking about the implications of moving HCPs to CII. They know it is coming, but they may not know the details well enough to communicate them to patients.
Could you schedule a couple meetings to go over the federal laws, the state laws and the store policies that surround this change? Give them a handout. Explain what is going on and why. Tell them what to expect. Give them a chance to ask questions.
This is a leadership opportunity, and the wise pharmacist will not let it slip by.
Finally, and maybe most importantly, you can educate your patients. You could draft a little flyer or handout that you can begin to immediately staple to the bag of all prescriptions written for HCPs. This is an excellent way to show you care for your patients while positioning yourself as an expert on this issue.
Be sure to let your management hierarchy review the document before you start using it, just to be sure they don't have any objections or concerns. If possible, I recommend you put your name on this as well. Maybe staple your business card to the bag with it. Promote yourself as the one who can help your patients navigate these confusing waters.
Life is sometimes going to hand you lemons. Sweeten the impact of the upcoming changes and offer some lemonade that will inform providers, educate consumers and advance your career.
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