Pharmacy team talking
HealthDecember 26, 2019

ASHP Supports the Evolving Pharmacists Role

There were some common themes at ASHP Midyear in Las Vegas that captured the attention of clinicians responsible for advancing pharmacy practices for their organization—use of technology and the importance of ongoing training as the discipline evolves.

As our patients become more complex, it’s necessary for hospitals and health systems to continue to innovate using technology to advance clinical care. Now more than ever, pharmacists are reliant on technology to help more patients in variety of ways including the use of telehealth services, artificial intelligence, surveillance technologies or the use of automation to improve IV workflow. What’s more, as technology adds efficiencies and productivity gains, the ongoing focus on training veteran and new pharmacy team members, of which ASHP has been a significant support of through its mentorship and continuing education programs, becomes increasingly important. Whether it’s training around new technology, clinical guidelines for new stewardship and regulatory requirements, proving the impact of pharmacy initiatives on patient care, or simply, how to find balance in a profession becoming more complex and demanding.

Three key takeaways from ASHP Midyear include:

  • Antibiotic Stewardship is a hot topic since the CDC’s directive includes Pharmacists playing a key role in its “Core Elements of Antibiotic Stewardship Programs.” Pharmacist expertise is one of the core principles needed to improve overall antibiotic use, decrease resistance, and aid our colleagues in documenting and auditing new practices related to increased stewardship efforts. There was also a focus on how clinicians can help improve their current process measures and prescribing metrics. Examples of process improvements may include standardized electronic order sets requesting physicians select appropriate antibiotics but also provide rationale for selection. The recommendation from ASHP is to begin tracking prescribing metrics such as percentage of orders requiring action and/or intervention as well as drug utilization by prescriber. Wolters Kluwer AMS pharmacist, Steve Mok, PharmD, BCPS, BCIDP presented at ASHP on how analytics can be used for Assessing Antimicrobial Use and Interpreting the Standardized Antimicrobial Administration Rations (SAAR).
  • Pharmacists role in Opioid Stewardship is evolving – An interdisciplinary ASHP Opioid Task Force, formed in 2019, assembled expert clinicians to begin shaping the future of how pharmacists can be most effective in combating the opioid epidemic. A study in the AJHP found that only 41 percent of hospitals have Opioid Stewardship programs as of 2018. To advance this initiative, an official document will be release Spring 2020 by this ASHP Opioid Taskforce covering topics such as: establishing the role of the pharmacist; identifying best practices for pain management including the use of non-opioid therapies; contributing to a solution focused public policy agenda and identifying tools and resources that may be useful for all hospitals and health systems regardless of location or size. Although recent surveys and data indicate most health systems are still in the early phases of developing their stewardship programs, there are some key areas of focus for hospital pharmacists who want to develop a framework for the program. Watch this ASHP presentation by Steve Riddle, PharmD, BCPS, FASHP to learn more about Initiating Opioid Stewardship for Inpatients: Using Tools and Technology to Jumpstart Your Program
  • Showcasing and evolving the impact of pharmacy on patient care – ASHP has a strong focus on training and mentorship of new pharmacists as evidenced in many of the clinical sessions provided. Students and residents were encouraged to share research in the form of poster presentations with a variety of large topics from Infectious Disease to Innovations in Technology. Data presented from Massachusetts-based health system, titled, “The impact of real-time patient surveillance on clinical pharmacists’ interventions and workflow”, highlighted pharmacists’ experience with Sentri7 clinical surveillance over six months as a quality improvement project to evaluate pharmacist intervention timeliness and effectiveness. The results indicate that Sentri7 can vastly improve the detection, action, and documentation of critical patient safety issues. This enabled their staff to more efficiently identify medication interventions and increase productivity. Students are being encouraged to use these sorts of forums as a medium to expand connections, compete with other students in skills competitions and exchange ideas with other students, residents and preceptors to advance the practice of pharmacy. ASHP is also offering a larger variety of Professional Certifications and training for established pharmacists, many of which are online and self-guided, including updated Medication Safety module, Emergency Medicine, Pharmacogenomics and Pain Management. As we train more pharmacists, and practice becomes more excelled, it’s important that practitioners can practice proper work-life balance to avoid burnout and increase productivity. This is the focus of The ASHP Well-Being Collaborative. This year, ASHP highlighted Penn State Health Hershey Medical Center in Hershey, PA sharing examples of how they’ve assembled an interdisciplinary group of healthcare team members to create a meditation group and provide continuing education that helps teammates learn more about stress reduction. Mindfulness and meditation are used to help reduce stress and improve focus for pharmacists with busy schedules and complex patient cases.

These topics are at the heart of what hospital pharmacists are seeking to improve and excel in to provide better quality to care to patients. It’s an exciting time in the profession of pharmacy, the ASHP Midyear Clinical Meeting always provides incredible insights, along with a variety of education and training opportunities foundational to advancing the profession and our impact on patient care.

We’re witnessing more growth in the area of information technology, which can be used to alleviate many issues for pharmacists across the U.S. including improvements in pharmacy workflow, medication distribution, improved communication with colleagues and/or patients and improved access to patients. As pharmacists we play a critical role. Therefore it’s important that we continue to excel in education, innovation and continuous improvement in patient care. This is how we will continue contribute value and improve patient care.

Pharmacy Clinical Program Manager

Dr. Stacey McCoy has over 17 years of experience as a clinical pharmacist. Her most recent clinical practice included more than 12 years of experience as an adult emergency medicine specialist.


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