ASHP InterSections ASHP InterSections

May 6, 2021

Pharmacy Teams Lead Telehealth Expansion Efforts

Caroline Pitney, Pharm.D, BCACP

WHEN THE COVID-19 PANDEMIC erupted last March, clinicians with the University of Washington (UW Medicine), the Seattle Cancer Care Alliance and their four medical centers, and many other health systems across the country quickly amped up their provision of telehealth services to continue meeting patient needs. Pharmacists were key players in this activity, said ASHP member Caroline Pitney, Pharm.D., BCACP, a clinical pharmacist with UW Harborview Medical Center.

Telehealth Growth

Prior to the pandemic, federal regulations had limited the scope of telehealth pharmacist services, leaving it mainly for patients in rural areas far from clinics or who had limited access to healthcare. However, the Coronavirus Preparedness and Response Supplemental Appropriations Act enacted on March 6, 2020, loosened restrictions on telehealth services. Then, on March 17, 2020, CMS announced its telehealth waiver had been expanded to cover diagnosis and treatment of COVID-19 and other conditions.

With UW pharmacists already embedded in ambulatory care settings as providers seeing their own patients with various disease states, it only made sense for them to jump on the telehealth bandwagon as well, Dr. Pitney said. The organization credentialed 69 pharmacists to offer comprehensive medication management via telehealth to patients in their primary care and specialty clinics. Pharmacists and other clinicians then completed learning modules on obtaining informed consent, videoconferencing etiquette, documentation, billing, adverse event reporting, and risk management. The health system selected Zoom as its secure telehealth platform, integrating it within the electronic medical record system.

Typically, at Dr. Pitney’s medical specialties clinic, doctors refer patients to pharmacists to help initiate new therapies or monitor ongoing treatment and chronic diseases. Dr. Pitney and her colleagues offered telehealth, along with in-person or telephone visits, to their patients as soon as it was available.

One benefit to video has been in face-to-face demonstrations of proper use of injectable medications, Dr. Pitney said. “It’s really challenging to try to do that over the telephone,” she said. “Before the pandemic, we would always recommend the person come in for an in-person teaching visit.”

Overall, she said, telehealth has provided a modality for pharmacists to see patients and their medications. We can ascertain patients’ ability to administer and take those medications. “Having this option in the future will only allow us to reach more patients. Not just for pharmacists but for all providers, it’s a step in the right direction,” Dr. Pitney added.   

Technology Bridges Barriers

Some health systems using telehealth found themselves upgrading technology as time went on. In the very early stages of the pandemic, pharmacists with Tampa General Hospital in Florida first moved some patients’ in-person visits to telephone calls, later shifting everyone to telehealth during April, May, and June while pharmacists worked from home, said ASHP member Jessica Bianco, Pharm.D., C.Ph., BCACP, CACP, a pharmacotherapy specialist in ambulatory care for the medical center. Their patient caseload includes people with diabetes and other chronic diseases, in addition to those taking anticoagulant medications.

By summer 2020, the hospital adopted a new platform with better video quality and the option to use translation services, Dr. Bianco said. Through a collaborative practice agreement there, pharmacists change or start medications and adjust doses between physician visits.

“Interestingly, I think some patients like it more,” Dr. Bianco said of telehealth. “It’s really bridged the barriers that there are for patients being able to make it to the clinic, such as transportation or parking issues.”

Streamlining Care     

Baptist Health South Florida, in the Miami area, sees many patients in their 70s, 80s, and 90s, so when the pandemic hit, clinicians and pharmacists were worried about putting them at risk. Fortunately, many patients were tech-savvy, or had family to support their adoption of telehealth, said ASHP member Jennifer Miles, Pharm.D., C.Ph., BCACP, BCMTMS, a clinical coordinator in ambulatory pharmacy there.

Jennifer Miles, Pharm.D., C.Ph., BCACP, BCMTMS

“Our patients were really happy there were minimal interruptions in their care because a lot of folks were really worried about offices shutting down and concerned with their safety and being able to get care,” Dr. Miles said. “We didn’t want to delay that.”

Dr. Miles and her colleague Faaria Quadri, Pharm.D., BCPS, work with the health system’s lipid clinic and congestive heart failure clinic. In their model, pharmacists see patients in tandem with advanced practice providers such as physician assistants or advanced practice registered nurses. Under telehealth, the provider sees a patient over telehealth for the medical portion of the visit and explains a pharmacist will call them next to go over medications and how they work, explain any potential drug interactions, help establish medication schedules, and talk about covering the medications, Dr. Miles explained.

Pharmacists also follow up with patients on a regular basis if they don’t have clinic visits scheduled to ensure they are adherent to medications. The heart failure clinic even provided bathroom scales to patients so they could continue to record their weights and blood pressures at home, Dr. Quadri noted.         

“Some patients, despite their age and risks, adamantly want to be seen in a clinic because they like that comfort of knowing they’re checked out physically,” Dr. Quadri said. “But another set is so nervous to come in, and so grateful for the opportunity to have a telemedicine visit.”

Overcoming Challenges        

Even as clinics nationwide have slowly resumed seeing patients in person, many have continued their telehealth appointments. About a third of patients at UW are still seen that way, Dr. Pitney said. At Tampa General, it’s more than half, said Dr. Bianco.

Jessica Bianco, Pharm.D., C.Ph., BCACP, CACP

There are some limitations to telehealth that clinicians still need to work through, Dr. Pitney cautioned. Not every patient has access to a computer or secure video device. Some patients, depending on their disease states, still need periodic, in-person physical exams. And while pharmacists are considered providers in Washington and many other states, CMS currently does not reimburse for pharmacist visits, whether telehealth or in-person.

Pharmacists should look at telehealth as an opportunity to highlight their clinical skills and knowledge to the general population, Dr. Quadri said.

“It’s a great opportunity to show what we’re capable of,” she said. “In the past, I think patients did not see our contributions to their medication regimens because we were making those to the providers and patients would assume it was from them. Now, they see firsthand that pharmacists can do this.”

The pharmacists offered the following tips for optimizing telehealth:

  • Know your audience. Telehealth should not be a one-size-fits-all option, Dr. Bianco said. Some patients are not comfortable with video and prefer a phone call, while others will appreciate telehealth for more of a face-to-face visit. Be aware that some patients may not have access to a computer or a secure location to do a telehealth visit, added Dr. Pitney. In those cases, a telephone visit is a good alternative to an in-person one.
  • Shed your fears. There has been some trepidation among pharmacists that this will be a big change and patients won’t like it, Dr. Miles said. Find a secure platform to continue your visits and set up infrastructure for training.

“We live in a society where our patients really want this to close the gap on the care they need, and limitations they have with their busy lives and now a pandemic keeping us all separate,” she said. “We can find creative ways to still be connected to one another…I don’t think anything will ever fully replace that human touch and being there face-to-face in the examination room with our patients, but it helps provide our presence in a way that is still supportive.”

Telehealth pharmacy practice is one of five areas of focus in ASHP’s Innovation Center. For more information, visit ASHP’s Telehealth Resource Center or listen to ASHP’s telehealth management pearls webinar. Be on the lookout for a special telehealth theme issue of AJHP later this year and a report summarizing the outcomes from the ASHP Pharmacy Executive Leadership Alliance’s virtual conference on Telehealth Innovations.

By Karen Blum

April 23, 2021

Hospital Pharmacy Leader Makes Mentorship a Top Priority

Vickie Powell, Pharm.D., M.S., FASHP

WITH A PASSION FOR MENTORSHIP and a dedication to her community and the pharmacy profession, Vickie Powell, Pharm.D., M.S., FASHP, is a pharmacist to emulate. Dr. Powell, site director of pharmacy for New York-Presbyterian Hospital, first thought about a pharmacy career during high school, where she had an interest in and maintained good grades in science. A guest speaker encouraged her and some of her high-achieving classmates to pursue careers in the medical field.

“I did not want to be a doctor because I didn’t like blood,” she said. “I didn’t want to be a dentist. So I thought pharmacy would be the best profession for me because I wouldn’t have to come in contact with all of those things. I love pharmacy. I’m glad I took that path.”

After completing pharmacy school at Xavier University of Louisiana in New Orleans, Dr. Powell got married and moved to New York City’s Harlem neighborhood, where she took a pharmacist position at a drug store downstairs from her apartment. While she found it rewarding working in the community, she wanted to do more. Then one of her customers, a pharmacy director at Harlem Hospital, encouraged her to try hospital pharmacy.

Dr. Powell applied for and was offered a registered pharmacist job with St. Luke’s/Roosevelt Hospital Center. She threw herself into work with enthusiasm, volunteering for everything from backing up computerized pharmacy records to learning all about then-upcoming USP <797> regulations and developing plans for a compliant I.V. room. She soon moved up to an inpatient pharmacy supervisor and developed numerous specialty satellite pharmacies throughout the hospital.

Valuable Mentorship

Because of her expertise, Dr. Powell found herself giving talks to the New York City Society of Health-System Pharmacists. At first, she wasn’t sure how to balance work and being involved in professional pharmacy societies with family life. But her supervisor and mentor, Harvey Maldow, R.Ph., believed it was so important she participate that he told Dr. Powell’s husband that he had to watch their young children while she attended meetings. She became the second African-American president of the group.

During her acceptance speech, Dr. Powell discussed mentoring and her philosophy of “Each one, teach one,” based on every mentee helping pull up someone behind them. The vice president of pharmacy at New York-Presbyterian Hospital was impressed and approached her about a director job. Maldow encouraged her to apply.

Today, Dr. Powell oversees pharmacy operations for three of the health system’s 11 hospitals, and oversees around 600 pharmacy employees. Besides her work tasks, Powell continues to make mentoring a priority, promoting good communication skills and lifelong education. She’s proud to have encouraged many technicians to become pharmacists.

“We meet on a regular basis because I don’t want to just tell people something and then hope they’ll follow it through; I try to work with them one-on-one to help them achieve whatever goals we’ve set out for them,” she said.

Community Service

Dr. Powell also maintains close ties to her community, serving for many years as a Sunday school teacher and member of the health committee at her church. Powell brings in guest speakers on topics important to their membership, such as hypertension and diabetes. One speaker, celebrity cardiothoracic surgeon Mehmet Oz (TV’s “Dr. Oz”), awarded free gym memberships to a few audience members. She also has been a special events coordinator for the Harlem Little League. More recently, Powell supervised a COVID-19 vaccine clinic at her church run by her hospital.

“I try to do a lot of things to help our community, and I do whatever I can to propel the practice of pharmacy,” she said. To that end, Dr. Powell serves on the Board of Directors for Long Island University’s College of Pharmacy and has given guest lectures at Touro College of Pharmacy. In 2009, she was the first African-American president of the New York State Council of Health-System Pharmacists.

ASHP Leadership       

Dr. Powell also has been very active in ASHP, serving over the years as a delegate as well as on several committees, including the Council on Education and Workforce Development and the Committee on Nominations. In 2020, Dr. Powell was honored to be invited to join ASHP’s Task Force on Racial Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion.

Dr. Powell and her colleagues celebrate receiving the first dose of the COVID-19 vaccine.

“Our social and justice systems are broken, and conscious and unconscious racism exists,” she said. “We talked a lot about institutional racism, which sometimes has been embedded as a normal practice within a society or organization. We made some changes in the structure of how things will be done to assure equity for all members. I don’t think people realize how institutional racism can lead to such issues as discrimination in employment, health care, and even with access to the [COVID-19] vaccine.”

The group suggested some changes to ASHP policies, Dr. Powell said, one being that a person can only run for a board position if they had just been a delegate. “That eliminates a lot of people,” she said. The group recommended that members did not have to have delegate experience to run for a board office. They also changed governance so the chair of the house of delegates no longer presides over the nominations committee, which could be a conflict of interest.

“We opened it up so that more people would have the opportunity to run for office,” she said. “We’re going to make mentoring a big part of the process.”

Dr. Powell stands out because of her intelligence, her mentorship, her compassion, and her ability to listen to people and understand their needs, Maldow noted.

“She’s one of the best people I ever worked with in terms of how she managed both down and up, and the staff adored her,” he said. “When I look at the people I mentored in my career, she’s on the top in how successful she has been, and it’s a credit to her, not me. The only thing I take credit for is being able to identify her potential. She’s a great health-system pharmacist and someone people should model themselves after.”

 

By Karen Blum

March 17, 2021

Upcoming ASHP Events Focus on Innovation in Pharmacy Practice

Paul W. Abramowitz, Pharm.D., Sc.D. (Hon.), FASHP

Dear Colleagues,

This past year was like no other. The challenges that our country has and continues to face are unprecedented. Yet, the relentless dedication and commitment I have seen from pharmacy professionals during the pandemic are valiant and inspirational.

As we step forward into 2021, ASHP remains committed to supporting the incredible work that our members are doing on the front lines of the COVID-19 pandemic. We are also working hard to provide the latest innovative approaches, tools, and resources to support patients across the full spectrum of medication use. I want to share some important new initiatives that ASHP created to help move pharmacy practice forward.

ASHP is pleased to announce the upcoming ASHP Specialty Pharmacy State of Practice in Hospitals and Health Systems – Future Directions Summit. The summit, scheduled for Feb. 1-4, will bring together more than 100 hospital and health-system pharmacy professionals, nurses, payers, and others to develop recommendations that advance patient outcomes through specialty pharmacy designated medications. The invitation-only event will include Q&As with speakers, virtual breakout groups, and much discussion and debate. It will address measures involved in diagnosis, medication management, payment, and reimbursement, as well as the impact on affordability, accessibility, and outcomes related to specialty pharmacy. Outcomes and recommendations from the summit will be published in a future issue of AJHP and support the development of upcoming ASHP educational content and tools.

Another critical undertaking, under the umbrella of our ASHP Innovation Center, is our new partnership with the American Medical Association to create a series of six Pharmacogenomics Virtual Summits focused on exploring the potential of pharmacogenomics-based selection, dosing, and monitoring of medications to improve health outcomes. The first summit, which takes place on Feb. 9, explores the pharmacogenomics landscape. Leading experts from pharmacy and medicine will introduce pharmacogenomics and the value it can bring to patient care, examine its benefits, and discuss the economic and health equity aspects of pharmacogenomics. Registration for the Pharmacogenomics Virtual Summit Series is currently open. The summits will run through March 18 with topics that include the current state of pharmacogenomics, the integration and implementation of pharmacogenomics into practice, clinical guidelines, and adoption drivers. I encourage you to register for this innovative and informative series to learn how pharmacogenomics can bring value to your practice.

I also wanted to remind our members that the application deadline is quickly approaching for a competitive grant program from the ASHP Foundation in collaboration with the ASHP Innovation Center to support projects that demonstrate the impact that health information technology and digital transformation can have on safe and effective medication use. Applications, due on Feb. 4, are open to interprofessional healthcare teams with a pharmacist as the principal investigator. Be sure to also check out our new ASHP Innovation Center infographic to learn more about the center’s mission, goals, and resources.

Additionally, the first episode of “Season 2” of our ASHP Leadership podcast will be published on Feb. 1. February is Black History Month, and in this episode, I discuss the preliminary recommendations from the ASHP Task Force on Racial Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion with ASHP President Tom Johnson and Paul Walker, chair of the task force. We talk about the inclusive process used to develop the draft recommendations by incorporating feedback from members and how the recommendations will continue to advance ASHP’s strong commitment to addressing the range of current and historical issues facing Black, Indigenous, and People of Color in ASHP’s membership and the profession of pharmacy. The preliminary recommendations will be presented to the ASHP Board soon, and we will post the final recommendations on ashp.org once they are approved. I hope you join us for this important discussion on our ASHP Official Podcast.

I’d be remiss if I didn’t mention ASHP’s latest innovative COVID-19 resources and tools. Earlier this month, ASHP released a new resource guide on the security, cold-chain storage, and handling of COVID-19 vaccines currently authorized by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA). The guide offers current information and guidance from the FDA emergency use authorization letters and Healthcare Provider Fact Sheets from Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna COVID-19 vaccines, and general best practices from other reputable sources. I encourage you to review this important tool, which will be updated regularly.

Other valuable resources from our dedicated COVID-19 vaccine webpage and COVID-19 Resource Center include ASHP’s Assessment of Evidence for COVID-19 Related TreatmentsASHP COVID-19 Vaccine Candidate Tracking Table, and the COVID-19 Vaccine Assessment Tool.

Finally, I invite you to join our COVID-19: Immunizing Efforts From Three States webinar on Feb. 10, when Brian Bothwell, director of pharmacy at San Juan Health in Monticello, Utah, Mohammad (Mo) Kharbat, vice president of pharmacy services and health research at SSM Health – Wisconsin Region, and Sarah Stephens, system medication safety officer at the HonorHealth Corporate Office in Scottsdale, Arizona, share their experiences with vaccine delivery, patient education, administration, and follow up.

ASHP remains committed to supporting you in every way we can during this pandemic, and through all you do in support of advancing healthcare. Thank you for being a member of ASHP and for everything that you do for your patients and our profession.

Sincerely,

Paul

ASHP Marks 1-Year Anniversary of Pandemic with Efforts to Combat Vaccine Hesitancy

Dear Colleagues,

Paul W. Abramowitz, Pharm.D., Sc.D. (Hon.), FASHP

One year ago, the World Health Organization officially declared the COVID-19 outbreak a pandemic. Throughout the ensuing 12 months, our members have consistently stepped forward with relentless perseverance and dedication to provide exceptional patient care on the front lines, often facing immense challenges posed by evolving conditions and uncertain outcomes. ASHP staff, working remotely from home and without missing a beat, supported our members and all healthcare providers by developing evidence-based resources and tools to identify solutions and share knowledge to improve patient care.

Today, we stand confident knowing that we have three vaccine options authorized for emergency use by the Food and Drug Administration, offering a real sense of hope that the U.S. population could reach herd immunity if efforts to vaccinate the population continue and the demand for the vaccines remains high.

On Friday, ASHP issued a strong statement urging the widespread use and equitable allocation of all three vaccines, based on a review of the scientific evidence available. ASHP also published two new resources to help individuals counter myths about Johnson & Johnson’s COVID-19 vaccine and provide information on optimal settings for using each of the authorized vaccines.

These new resources are just the latest offerings from ASHP, which has been a leader since the outset of this global health crisis, providing needed information, networking, and resources to support our members and all healthcare professionals address the impact of the pandemic and plan for short- and long-term recovery efforts.

ASHP’s efforts demonstrate our ongoing commitment to supporting our members and their patients and also signal just how far we have come in our fight against this virus. In the early days of the pandemic, the need for pharmacist engagement on the front lines of care quickly became clear as healthcare professionals struggled to manage shortages of drugs and medical supplies. There was a need for clarity about potential treatments for COVID-19, such as hydroxychloroquine, azithromycin, remdesivir, monoclonal antibodies, corticosteroids, and other medications. One of the first resources we created in March 2020 was ASHP’s Assessment of Evidence for COVID-19 Related Treatments to help practitioners better understand proposed treatments for COVID-19. This free resource, which continues to be updated at least twice monthly, has been downloaded more than 56,800 times since its initial publication.

The evidence table was just one of ASHP’s many resources that were made open access and free to any healthcare professional who needed it during the spring and summer months of 2020. Others included ASHP’s Critical Care Board Certification Resources, access to our AHFS drug database, and more. Through these actions, ASHP made an enormous amount of educational materials and resources available free of charge to support our collective national response to the pandemic.

Real-time knowledge-sharing was and still is a top priority today. We knew that it was critical for pharmacists in early surge cities to share what they learned to help prepare their colleagues across the country for the inevitable patient surges in their communities and states. To share information as quickly as possible, we developed a free ongoing webinar series dedicated to COVID-19, which continues to provide valuable perspective and intelligence on how pharmacists are responding to the pandemic.

We have held 53 webinars so far, with more than 24,000 total attendees. We have also used our popular @ASHPOfficial podcast to share critical information about COVID-19. Since last March, ASHP has produced 81 episodes dedicated to the pandemic with more than 81,400 downloads. In addition to being featured in webinars, ASHP news articles, and ASHP podcasts, our members and ASHP staff have served as expert sources in the media with coverage in more than 3,900 COVID-19 stories generating in excess of 7 billion media impressions.

Communication among pharmacy professionals and other healthcare providers continues to be a crucial element in fighting this pandemic. Our COVID-19 Connect Community, open to ASHP members and free to all healthcare providers, now has more than 77,500 users with more than 2,300 unique discussion threads. This remains a very active resource where users can ask questions, receive answers, share experiences, post guidance, receive updates, and learn best practices to support patients and each other.

These examples are only a handful of ways ASHP continues to support our members during this ongoing health crisis. The full scope of ASHP’s COVID-19 response is highlighted in an infographic.

Today, countless ASHP members are leading and participating in a historic national vaccination effort that centers on vaccines that did not exist a year ago. As trusted members of the healthcare community, pharmacists are working with patients to overcome vaccine hesitancy and misinformation issues. We believe pharmacists, who are among the most trusted professionals in the U.S., have and will continue to play an instrumental role in supporting our communities through these challenging times. To this end, ASHP recently introduced a Change.org petition calling on the White House to ensure pharmacy professionals are represented in the administration’s COVID-19 Health Equity Task Force. We believe representation on this task force by a qualified pharmacist will be critical to addressing the persistent health inequities in communities of color that are disproportionately impacted by COVID-19. The accessibility and expertise of pharmacists make them an asset and essential source of information for the public, particularly in medically underserved areas.

If you haven’t already, please sign the petition to add your voice to the cause. If you’ve already signed, please consider sharing it with friends and family and across social media using #PharmacyFrontline.

Reflecting on this tumultuous year, we will never forget the lives lost and the toll this pandemic has taken on our families and colleagues. We will also never forget the bravery, kindness, and unyielding dedication of pharmacy professionals serving on the front lines. I invite you to view this video where some of our members reflect on their most poignant moments from the last year.

As the vaccine rollout continues and pharmacists continue to play vital roles in the effort, ASHP, as always, remains dedicated to supporting our members. One year in, these remain stressful and unpredictable times, and we are all susceptible to burnout. It is critically important that healthcare professionals on the front lines take a moment to check in with themselves, colleagues, and loved ones. ASHP is proud to offer many resources on our website to help individuals recognize burnout symptoms and practice self-care techniques.

We are so very proud of the resilience and fortitude of the pharmacy community. While 2021 promises progress and hopefully a return to some level of normalcy, we know that there remains much important work ahead. I can’t thank you enough for your ongoing support of ASHP and all that you do for your patients and our profession.

Sincerely,

Paul

November 30, 2020

ASHP’s Midyear Clinical Meeting is Unstoppable

Dear Colleagues,

The 55th Annual Midyear Clinical Meeting and Exhibition is about to kick off! We have a wonderful week ahead packed with world-class educational programming, exciting speakers, and opportunities to connect with colleagues and enrich your practice. This year’s theme is “Unstoppable,” and more than 23,000 attendees will have the opportunity to come together, Dec. 6 –10, on our virtual platform to knowledge share, network, and experience the largest gathering of pharmacists in the world in a new and unique way. Registration will remain open through Dec. 10, so there is still time to register and take advantage of everything the meeting has to offer.

We are delighted to welcome our keynote speaker, award-winning actor, producer, director, and COVID-19 survivor, Tom Hanks, on the morning of Monday, Dec. 7. We are also very pleased to welcome Dr. Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, joining us on Wednesday, Dec. 9. Please note that these special events will only be available for viewing during the scheduled session days and times. You don’t want to miss these extraordinary speakers.

The 2020 Midyear also features:

  • More than 175 hours of continuing education
  • More than 4,600 posters
  • 1,328 booths in the Residency Showcase (29% increase over 2019)
  • 132 exhibitors/booths

The Midyear Clinical Meeting is the longest, continually running clinical pharmacy meeting in the world. This year, against the backdrop of a global pandemic, ASHP promises to bring you an unstoppable Midyear, offering the most timely and relevant content to support contemporary practice and the best possible patient care.

Our 55th meeting brings together our profession’s best and brightest subject matter experts who will share their knowledge about current pharmacy practice in an ever-changing healthcare landscape.

The distribution and administration of the anticipated COVID-19 vaccines are top of mind and on Monday, Dec. 7, ASHP will hold the first of two late-breaking COVID-19 vaccine sessions. Monday’s session will focus on clinical considerations. A second session will be held on Wednesday, with a focus on operational considerations. In addition to the late-breaking vaccine sessions, we have 18 relevant and informative sessions that will keep you up-to-date on the latest developments related to COVID-19 response and recovery.

Monday will also feature a special Town Hall hosted by Paul C. Walker, Pharm.D., FASHP, chair of the ASHP Task Force on Racial Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion. Dr. Walker will present the Task Force’s draft recommendations for new and enhanced efforts ASHP should take to address issues of racial diversity, equity, and inclusion impacting Black, Indigenous and People of Color. The Task Force will consider feedback from the Town Hall and other channels in preparing a final report and recommendations to submit to the ASHP Board of Directors in January 2021.

This year’s Midyear marks the first anniversary of the ASHP Innovation Center. The center seeks to elevate the vital role hospital and health-system pharmacy practitioners play in new and emerging science, and position pharmacy practitioners as influencers in developing systems that advance patient safety and quality care. This year’s Midyear offers a wealth of programming dedicated to implementing and using innovative strategies and solutions to further pharmacy practice, including two critical on-demand sessions: Innovations in Drug Information Practice and Research; and Advanced and Innovative Roles in the Specialty Pharmacy Setting. Later in the week, on Thursday, Dec. 10, we have a session highlighting the pros and cons of new technologies that have improved patient care safety and efficiency.

As part of the ASHP Innovation Center, the ASHP Foundation is currently accepting applications for a competitive grant program to support projects that demonstrate the impact of optimizing health information technology and digital transformation that enhance safe and effective use of medications. The grant program is available for interprofessional healthcare teams with a pharmacist as principal investigator. The deadline for applications is Feb. 4, 2021.

I encourage attendees to check out the ASHP Midyear Virtual Posters. With our virtual platform, you can review poster PDFs and audio clips summarizing each project. Authors will be available for real-time video Q & A chats alongside their virtual posters.

These are just a handful of the highlights from the largest gathering of pharmacists in the world. Be sure to follow us on social media @ASHPOfficial and #ASHP2020 on Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, and LinkedIn, and look for News & Views, the official Midyear newspaper, which will be delivered digitally to all attendees via a daily e-mail. Also, be sure to check out ashptv.com for daily interviews, member stories, and content.

The success of this unstoppable Midyear Clinical Meeting is due to the tremendous work of hundreds of ASHP members and staff, and we are pleased to showcase their efforts and share this event with you.

Finally, I would like to wish all of our members a safe and healthy holiday season. Thank you for being a member of ASHP and for all you do for your patients and our profession during these very challenging times.

Sincerely,

Paul

July 28, 2020

Creative Ways to Support Staff Resilience During the COVID-19 Pandemic

Mayrim Millan-Barea, Pharm.D., M.B.A., discusses strategies to practice mindfulness at work, holding a sign that reads, “Pause, Take One Mindful Breath. Observe, Resume.”

ASHP’S MEMBERS ARE IN VARIOUS STAGES of preparing for, responding to, and recovering from the COVID-19 pandemic. During this challenging time, it is imperative for pharmacists, residents, student pharmacists, and pharmacy technicians to step up well-being for themselves and the healthcare workforce community.

During the 2019 Midyear Clinical Meeting, ASHP held two sessions where pharmacists shared the various ways their hospitals and health systems support workplace joy. With new guidance in place for social distancing and other measures to reduce the transmission of the virus, pharmacists are taking creative approaches to promote staff well-being and resilience.

Share what works for you

“There is greater and greater recognition that burnout is an issue, and many institutions have started putting initiatives in place to prevent it from happening,” said Mayrim Millan-Barea, Pharm.D., M.B.A., who just completed her Health System Pharmacy Administration and Leadership Residency, at the Johns Hopkins Hospital, and is an ASHP member since 2015.

She led two roundtable sessions on well-being, resilience, and burnout at the 2019 ASHP Midyear Clinical Meeting. “More awareness needs to be raised as there is still a stigma associated with this topic,” said Dr. Millan-Barea. She recalled one session participant who shared that a colleague of theirs was afraid to ask others if they were burned out, “because they did not want to accept that they could be burned out as well.”

Although some institutions are in the early stages of addressing burnout, others are moving full steam ahead with solutions to build staff resilience and well-being. For example, pharmacists at Dr. Millan-Barea’s institution share their daily accomplishments and medication error “good catches” during shift changes. These short meetings also offer an opportunity to present a clinical pearl or celebrate a birthday, Dr. Millan-Barea said. “These meetings have worked for us as a good way to engage with staff,” she emphasized. However, due to the COVID-19 pandemic, staff has had to adapt and leverage electronic platforms to celebrate, engage, and care for one another. “During such difficult and unprecedented times, the Department of Pharmacy launched a newly built website that included internal and external well-being and resilience resources. Additionally, we hosted a small virtual contest where staff was encouraged to share a picture of their favorite well-being/wellness resource or activity. The idea is to emphasize that we should all feel empowered to identify the resources that resonate with us,” said Dr. Millan-Barea.

Pharmacy kudos board

Creating opportunities for more staff interaction is one approach to cultivating happiness in the workplace, said Jennifer M. Schultz, Pharm.D., Clinical Pharmacy Supervisor and PGY1 Residency Program Director in the Pharmacy Department at Bozeman Health Deaconess Hospital. She is an ASHP Fellow and member since 1994 and co-led one of the roundtable sessions. “Feeling engaged with others and having a culture that values the role of pharmacists energizes people,” she said.

Some participants at the session Dr. Schultz co-led said they have been creating calm and fun workplace environments in several ways, including having an aromatherapy room where staff can relax if they are feeling overwhelmed or stressed.

Jennifer M. Schultz, Pharm.D.

“At my institution, we have ‘white elephant parties,’ where somebody draws a name and brings that person a little gift,” said Dr. Schultz. Other pharmacists said they recognize and engage staff efforts by giving employees who have worked exceptionally hard a long lunch. Other sites said they encourage peer-to-peer recognition through an e-card function in their institutional intranet, allowing staff to send appreciative notes to their colleagues.

Dr. Schultz’s hospital has what they call a “Kudos Board, which is a whiteboard where colleagues can give each other kudos for a nice gesture or a great job using Velcro stickers and different shapes,” she said. “At the end of the month, we hold a drawing for all of the kudos received, select a coffee card winner, and publicize why that person got kudos,” she said. “It’s a simple way to support and recognize each other.”

The more that staff feel connected with and valued by each other and hospital leaders – whether through a kudos board, by checking in on each other and seeing how their workload is going – the less likely they are to experience burnout, Dr. Schultz said. “We like to think of our pharmacy department as a phamily, with a ‘ph,’” she quipped.

Something Dr. Schultz said session attendees broadly recognized the value of is extracurricular hobbies. Having something to look forward to outside of work helps create a fulfilling work-life balance, she said. “People who are very, very engaged only in their work and don’t do much outside of work seem to be more stressed and burned out,” Dr. Schultz said. “We need to get out and have hobbies – it doesn’t matter what they are, but we all have to do something for ourselves.”

Adding food and fun

Nicole Clark, Pharm.D., MHA, FASHP, Director of Pharmacy Services at Melrose Wakefield Healthcare, always relied on enjoyable non-pharmacy activities to have fun outside of work. Her favorite hobby was going to Boston Celtics games with her friends and husband, who is also a pharmacist. “That’s where we hang out and don’t talk pharmacy!” she said. “It’s an example I share with my students to encourage them to do something for themselves – and not feel guilty about it.”

Nicole Clark, Pharm.D., MHA, FASHP

With the COVID-19 pandemic, fun hobbies like this have been put on hold, so it has been important to find other things to do to remain resilient during these tough times, she noted. For example, Dr. Clark hosts video gatherings with friends, including her “Celtics Family,” the friends she has made through the Celtics. “It allows us to check in with each other and support each other through this challenging time,” she said.

Dr. Clark, who also co-facilitated an ASHP session on well-being, burnout, and resilience, said her organization has a wellness committee that has developed a range of activities focused on the health and well-being of employees. These activities have taken on a new look during the COVID pandemic.

For example, staff can attend a regular meditation call or well-being webinar series, noted Dr. Clark. “Awards and celebrations are continuing, just in different ways from before,” she added. During hospital week, hospital leadership greeted employees coming to work with a DJ and thank you signs. Ice cream treats, care packages, and meals were also given to staff.

“These small gestures meant a lot to staff and made them feel valued during this difficult time,” said Dr. Clark, an ASHP member since 2008. “During the holiday season, our department participates in an adopt-a-family program that? gives to a family in need, which helps us feel the holiday spirit.”

While planned events and well-considered institutional initiatives to address well-being and burnout are critical, Dr. Millan-Barea of the Johns Hopkins Hospital believes building pharmacy staff resilience does not always require much money or time.

“Simply saying ‘good morning’ can be a small but important step towards building community and increasing recognition,” she said. “We live in such a rushed world that we can forget to acknowledge each other.”

 

By David Wild

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