|Member Snapshot- Neda Leonard|
Neda Leonard, MS, PharmD, BCGP, BCPS
Filling a Void
The Consultant Pharmacist publishes occasional snapshots of members who have interesting practices or businesses or are involved in unusual projects or research. All pharmacists were asked to provide answers to several questions. This was originally published in the May 2017 issue of The Consultant Pharmacist.
Neda Leonard, MS, PharmD, BCGP, BCPS, founder and owner of Consult A Pharmacist, LLC, Boulder, Colorado, helps older adults solve medication-related problems to avoid higher levels of care or loss of independence.
Tell us about yourself and your business/ consulting practice.
I came from a world of basic research. After my undergraduate degree in biology from University of Kansas, I completed graduate work in toxicology at University of Kansas Medical Center. My masters in pharmacology/ toxicology also gave me a good understanding of basic research and made me comfortable with public speaking. I then graduated from the University of Minnesota Pharmacy School, with a PharmD degree in the administration track. My first job was as a clinical pharmacy specialist at Longmont United Hospital, Longmont, Colorado, where I worked for 14 years. Meanwhile, I became a board-certified geriatric pharmacist (BCGP) after 5 years in practice and a board-certified pharmacotherapy specialist (BCPS) after 10 years in practice. I then decided to become an independent consultant pharmacist because I enjoyed the challenges of managing medications and delivering affordable quality care.
What have the highlights and challenges been over the years?
My work as a consultant pharmacist is exciting. There are many interesting differences in medication practices. Each patient/physician situation is challenging and unique. The consultant pharmacist’s job description is ever changing. One needs to wear many hats and be informed in many ways. In the first month after I established my consulting business, I came up with a name, Consult A Pharmacist, LLC. I moved forward to network and draft contracts for services, which I offered to local physicians and facilities. The American Society of Consultant Pharmacists (ASCP) was my anchor and provided so many examples, such as contract templates, marketing strategies, and unique practice examples, as well as contacts to help me. In the beginning, the hours were brutal and financial rewards slim. A colleague reminded me on one disappointing morning that I can’t be a consultant if I don’t have a “thick skin.” I am glad I took his advice and developed a thick skin.
During my first one-on-one comprehensive medication consult, I was prepared to solve big puzzles. I sat down and listened to a frustrated health care consumer who was fed up with overprescribing, confusion, and lack of resources. I quickly became an advocate who worked toward informing, navigating, and decluttering a medication list. It was a trial, but after the work was done, I once again heard, “Where have you been when I needed this service last year before I was admitted to the hospital because of my medications?”
My job as a geriatric pharmacist consultant is solving puzzles daily to avoid escalation of care for older adults due to medication events. It is an important task. Payers are less willing to pay for acute care settings such as hospitals. Our older adults want to live at home as long as possible. Every case is different, every facility is unique, and all are worth helping.
What advice can you offer other consultant pharmacists?
The challenge of being a consultant is multi-tasking. A pharmacy consultant needs to stay informed about insurance plan policy changes, innovations from the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services, and more. They must form a great network in the community and perform every task with quality in mind. One must not only be an expert in the medication arena, but also stay informed about other aspects of pharmacy practice (reimbursement requirements, policy changes, and health care focus).
What are your hopes for the future of your business/practice?
My hope for the future is establishment of comprehensive health information technology to give pharmacists access to patients’ health care records so we will be better able to help make connections and improve health care and medication therapy. Currently, one challenge is that health care information can be disconnected and/or lost. Another challenge is finding an efficient way to document my work and an easier way to bill services. Additionally, I am dedicated to moving pharmacist provider status to become a reality, which would pay pharmacists through Social Security. As medication experts, pharmacists provide a service that is necessary and unique. It is time for this service to be recognized nationally and reimbursed appropriately.
“The art of persistence is perseverance.” In the world of pharmacy consulting, perseverance is staying open to changes and focusing on the common goal of improving overall health care in a team setting.
Pharmacists need to ask themselves if they are ready to roll up their sleeves and participate in this challenge using their unique skills. If so, I’d tell them to wear their running shoes and buckle up for a thrilling ride.