Featured Leader: Brian Isetts

Professor Working on Health Care Reform in D.C.Brian Isetts

Professor Brian Isetts has long been interested in improving patient outcomes through pharmaceutical care. The reason? “There is a huge problem with drug-related morbidity and mortality that costs this country $200 billion a year,” he said. “While there are many great drugs, in many cases they’re not being used effectively.”

According to Isetts, the solution to this problem is comprehensive medication therapy management (MTM) provided within the practice of pharmaceutical care, an area he has studied for more than 20 years.

“It has only been a few years since pharmacists were officially recognized for providing this service and, equally importantly, for developing the evidence to show that MTM improves patient outcomes, both in terms of clinical performance benchmarks and economics,” he said. “Now, pharmacy as a profession needs to make a business case for MTM and be at the table when decisions are being made on health care reform.”

A year ago, Isetts was planning for a sabbatical during the 2010-11 school year when he was offered a six-month health policy fellowship through the PRIME Institute to serve at the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS).

“The Health Reform Act was just beginning the implementation phase, so the timing to head to D.C. couldn’t have been better,” he said.

From January to June, Isetts served as a health policy fellow in the Medicare Drug Benefit Group where he worked on Part D MTM Program improvements, including conducting simulated comprehensive medication assessments to test the proposed beneficiary standard formats. Among his other accomplishments, Isetts also prepared the description of MTM for inclusion in the 2012 Medicare & You Handbook and the Medicare 2011 MTM Fact Sheet.

“My experience at the drug benefit program was invaluable in terms of seeing what CMS values and how they think and function from the inside,” said Isetts.

Isetts was fortunate to extend his fellowship another five months to work on cutting-edge health reform initiatives in the Center for Medicare and Medicaid Innovation. Through the end of 2011, he will map federal medication management-transition of care initiatives, monitor quality in the Partnership for Patients Program, and assess accountable care organization outcomes.

“Many of the safety goals the innovation center is looking at – including improving patient safety and decreasing hospital readmissions – are things we’ve already addressed here in Minnesota,” he said. “Many of our health systems recognize the importance of having pharmacists on their health teams, and our students already work side-by-side with their health care colleagues. This puts us at a great advantage in terms of what’s happening in other states and at the federal level.”

Isetts will return to the college and his scholarly duties in January 2012. “There is no doubt my experience in D.C. will be of tremendous value to our patients, students, colleagues and the University,” he said. “I am very grateful to have this opportunity.”

Every Pharmacist Makes A Difference: We Want to Hear From You

The Center for Medicare and Medicaid Innovation would like to hear what practitioners and health systems are doing to improve the health of your patients, enhance patient safety, or to decrease health expenditures.

“No matter how big or small your example is, the CMS Innovation Center is looking to capture stories that indicate positive results,” said Isetts. “I know there are tons of examples all over Minnesota. Now’s the time to capture these stories and the results from innovative approaches to resolving drug-related morbidity and mortality in order to illustrate that, collectively, we are making a huge impact on improving pharmaceutical care in our state and beyond.”

To share your example of how you’re making a difference in the health of your patients or health expenditures, please send an email to pharm@umn.edu with “innovation” as the subject line. All examples will be shared with the Center for Medicare and Medicaid Innovation.

This Featured Leader is part of an ongoing series from the Center for Leading Healthcare Change that profiles pharmacy leaders in the community.