Claims administrators have an invaluable opportunity to help future pharmacists understand the challenges regarding prescription drug use for occupational injuries. A pharmacist intern program, like the one we offer at Sedgwick, can provide excellent experiences for students to gain knowledge from an experienced team of pharmacists and physicians about the safety implications and personal impact of the pharmacy management process – firsthand insight they will carry into their future pharmacy practices.
At Sedgwick, pharmacy students enter the program during their final year before graduation and licensure as Doctors of Pharmacy, and then follow a syllabus prepared by our pharmacists to learn more about the process of providing prescription drug management services. Interns’ clinical rotations are designed to give them exposure to the world of workers’ compensation and claims management. They gain unique, real-life knowledge in a field of medical management many practitioners never get the opportunity to experience. Students work alongside claims examiners and nurse case managers and learn how managed care goes beyond cost savings, aligning resources to confirm the correct diagnosis using evidence-based medicine, and to ensure the patient is following the most beneficial protocols.
Pharmacists examine a claim and check that all medications being provided to the injured worker are appropriate, both in regard to drug choice and dose. They use their clinical knowledge to provide weaning protocols to the prescriber when needed, along with any other appropriate recommendations related to the care of the injured employee. Pharmacists are also a great resource for drug information and literature for clients, claims examiners and nurse case managers. They work closely with all stakeholders – including physicians, nurses and claims examiners – to ensure that the entire team is appropriately educated about medications utilized in workers’ compensation claims and aware of their implications for the patient’s specific needs as they plan recovery management
At the conclusion of the internship, pharmacy students can interpret and prioritize claim data to efficiently and effectively assess the prescribed treatment. They are taught to optimize drug therapy using patient-specific and evidence-based data and evaluate the medication dose. Finally, the appropriateness, evidence-based guidelines and cost-containment situations are considered in the recommendations provided to physicians.
Through our collaborative efforts with each respective university involved in the internship program with Sedgwick, students are able to gain the necessary tools to better understand the complexity of workers’ compensation and the importance of provider and injured employee education for safety. Students also learn to appreciate a collaborative and dynamic prescription drug management approach.
Claims administrators should strive to promote increased awareness about opioids and dangerous drug class combinations. Collaboration with pharmacists is one way we can accomplish this goal. Through exposure and experience, our future pharmacists can be equipped to educate both healthcare providers and the general population about the potential for medication abuse, misuse and addiction. Training the next generation of pharmacy experts will sustain the growing momentum towards improving drug safety in our nation.
Dr. Paul Peak, AVP, Clinical Pharmacy