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Maher

Pharmacist: Robert L. Maher Jr., Pharm.D., CGP

Pharmacy: Patton Pharmacy and Klingensmith's Drugstore

City, State: Patton Pharmacy is located in Patton, Pennsylvania (90 miles east of Pittsburgh) and Klingensmith's DrugStore is located in Ford City, Pennsylvania (about 40 miles north of Pittsburgh)

How many years have you been practicing as a pharmacist?
22 years as a pharmacist

What led you to a career in independent community pharmacy?
I grew up working in our family pharmacy, which my Father started when I was 4 years old in 1974. As a young child in the pharmacy, I saw the transitions occur in pharmacy from filling prescriptions with a Bates stamper and typewriter, to entering the computer age in the 1980's, to the technology of today with the incorporation of medication synchronization and MTM programs.

I found even as a young child the greatest thing about being an independent pharmacist was you had the potential to affect someone's health everyday of your life. Also when I was young as a student in high school and college, my father would take me to NCPA national meetings, and to our wholesaler, Value Drug Company's trade show and stockholder's meetings. It was at those meetings I learned through networking of many other great independent pharmacists. Those pharmacists showed me how innovative an independent pharmacist could be through the development of services such as skilled nursing home pharmacies, home infusion, DME, and specialty pharmacy. During my years in pharmacy school at the University of Pittsburgh I had the honor to be the president of the NCPA student chapter. As president of the student chapter back in the early 1990's my NCPA advisor Stan Cohen and the previous president of NCPA, Joe Mosso, taught me great leadership skills. They showed me the opportunities in independent pharmacy in using those leadership skills to help your patients and your communities. I also had the honor in the spring of 1993 to attend one of NCPA's very first ownership workshops held in Memphis, Tennessee, where I learned from some great pharmacists, such as D.C. Huffman, Richard Jackson and many more. Their influence has had a profound impact on me, and how I look at the business skills incorporating with pharmacist's clinical skills.

When I was 25 I decided to leave independent pharmacy for sometime and returned to my alma mater, the University of Pittsburgh, to receive my post-PharmD.; in addition I did a specialized residency in geriatrics at the Durham VA and Duke Center of Aging under Dr. Joseph Hanlon. During this time I developed my clinical skills in the hospital and ambulatory setting. I soon realized how those clinical skills in pharmacy, through the identification of drug related problems, had a great impact on patient's health outcomes. However, in those settings I began to identify there were gaps in communication occurring with the hospital, physician's office, and the community pharmacy.

Dr. Hanlon, who was my mentor during my residency, had worked for an independent pharmacy when he was in school, and between him and my father, had a strong influence on me wanting to bring clinical pharmacy to independent pharmacy. When I turned 30 I was hired as faculty at Duquesne University and I was put in charge of developing advanced practices in independent pharmacy. For the last 15 years, my passion has been to make the clinical skills I saw at work in my ambulatory and hospital settings, incorporated in the independent pharmacy setting. We as independent pharmacists see the patient more than any other healthcare professional. Therefore, we as independent pharmacists are in the greatest position to impact a patient's health outcome through identifying drug-related problems, and optimizing a patient's medication use through clinical programs that focus on patient safety, patient education, and adherence. I have had the honor of working with some great independent pharmacies over my pharmacy career, which included Hometown Pharmacies located in the Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania area, to my current position as director of clinical services for both Klingensmith's Drugstore and my family's pharmacy Patton Pharmacy.

What makes your pharmacy standout from the competition?
We focus our pharmacies to look at developing win-win programs that provide value to our patients, the healthcare providers and institutions located in our surrounding community.

Our pharmacies have tried to develop clinical programs that, as I said above, provide win-win value to our patients, healthcare providers and institutions. Back in 2012 we were chosen to be one of the pilot pharmacies for the EQuIPP program for the Medicare Star Ratings. During this time we developed the Patton Pharmacy Education and Wellness Center, in which we remodeled the pharmacy to have an educational conference center within the pharmacy. This education and wellness center offers the following clinical services: Medication Therapy Management, Diabetes Self-Management Education, and Geriatric Pharmacy Care.

Probably the most innovative program we developed is a program to help our local healthcare professionals improve their patient outcomes. Our clinical services that are win-win for both the physician and us are listed below. In addition, we have developed a MTM Polypharmacy Program with our local primary care physician Dr. Russell Miller located in Patton. Dr. Miller has his own private rural practice. Our program also involved 6th year Pharm.D. Candidates. With this program, each week Dr. Miller will identify patients in his practice that have complex polypharmacy regimens. He will send us their most recent medication list, problem list, and labs. The students and myself will work them up and provide a MTM at the physician practice the day of their doctor appointment. The goal of this MTM is to provide medication reconciliation for Dr. Miller, identify drug related problems and provide clinical recommendations. Through this program we have been successful in solving patients drug-related problems with many of our clinical programs

What are your biggest challenges?
The biggest challenges are developing these programs not only to be a win-win for our patients and health care providers but develop ways of business revenue for our pharmacy that allows us to provide these services. With our diabetes management program, immunization program, and improvement of adherence we have found ways to justify these services from a financial standpoint; however we as pharmacists need to work with our local healthcare providers and institutions on how to be reimbursed for our clinical services. Hope with the future of provider status, physician collaboration agreement programs will allow this challenge to be overcome.

Describe a recent, rewarding experience with a patient.
We do a Diabetes Education and Management program at our pharmacy, which we implemented in the last year after attending the NCPA DASPA program. One of our patients in our diabetes class this past year had struggled getting his diabetes under control for almost 10 years. During the program both the dietician and myself identified problems in his diet and the improper way he was administering his insulin pen. We got a report back from his wife about a week ago that his most recent visit from the physician showed improvement in his weight and HgbA1C.

How has NCPA helped your business?
NCPA has helped our business in showing us new business opportunities for our pharmacy through our adherence programs, and diabetes program. I have learned so much from NCPA since attending my first meetings as a student to now.