Asembia 2020: Virtual Madness

Specialty Pharmacy Times, June 2020, Volume 3, Issue 2

In this time of crisis, the scope of pharmacy practice has been expanded and pharmacists can provide even more care.

IF YOU ARE like me, the start of May over the past decade has been focused on raising my specialty pharmacy bar, thanks to a well-structured Asembia Summit meeting in Las Vegas, Nevada. However, if you are reading this, you know this year’s story. Las Vegas took the unprecedented step of shutting down the entire city—a city based on the opposite of social distancing, what I call “social proximity”—in the wake of the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) pandemic. Asembia has been the go-to meeting for education and networking and it is just not the same when you cannot hang out with 8000 of your best friends in a single area. If you have not already done so, you can still register for Asembia 2020 and there are benefits.

The Next Best Thing in 2020: Virtual Access

Asembia is doing as much as possible in an electronic format as they remain committed to providing value to the specialty pharmacy industry through the 2020 Specialty Pharmacy Summit Virtual Experience at asembiasummit.com. As a result of having to cancel the 2020 meeting, they created the Summit Virtual Experience, which includes access to digital networking and virtual programming. Asembia has continued their efforts to find ways through technology to help stakeholders to collaborate, including the launch of a 2020 summit mobile app. The app provides networking access between individuals who were registered or who have agreed to roll over their 2020 Asembia Summit registration. Attendees will have the ability to connect with and message other attendees, and schedule meetings. The hope is that through this platform, those individuals and organizations who attend the meeting can replicate much of the same experience they enjoyed in I have used the Asembia conference app in the past for tracking the program, posting on Twitter, and scheduling appointments.

Pharmacy Times and Asembia Continuing Education Partnership is a Winner

Personally, as a pharmacist, I have always found Asembia to be a great meeting for rounding out my professional education by attending as many programs as possible. It has always been a struggle figuring out which sessions to attend. There are so many, often occurring at the same time, and it can be a challenge balancing the ones offering continuing education vs pure information.

Hopefully, my fellow pharmacists can relate to the annual quest to obtain our 15 continuing education units (CEUs) of Accreditation Council of Pharmacy Education (ACPE) credits. The good news is that Asembia took care of us this year. Through a tight collaboration with Pharmacy Times® and our PTCE program, more than 22 hours of CE credits have been afforded to those individuals seeking programs. The programs are the exact same ones that would have been offered in Las Vegas, but through a proprietary platform created by PTCE. All you have to do is register for the CE event at asembiasummit.com/continuingeducation and you’ll get a reminder with a link directly to the program. It is broadcast live, complete with a video of the speaker and the presentation slides shown simultaneously. You can even respond to real-time surveys and the speakers will discuss the results. There is also the opportunity to participate in a question-andanswer session right after the program.

The best part of this offering comes immediately after the CE program, when a link pops up and takes you through the standard ACPE questions. If you have registered your National Association of Boards of Pharmacy (NABP) CE information with PTCE, you will get your certificate right on the spot. PTCE also submits those credits to NABP, so you are all set. It is very convenient and efficient, and it is free for pharmacists.

For more information you can log on to pharmacytimes.org and sign up for not just Asembia programs but dozens of others. It is all very easy and well attended. So far, PTCE has been averaging more than 1000 pharmacists for each event, a truly viral virtual experience. Consider that a typical session at the conference may have 100 attendees—–we are getting 10 times that in this format.

Pharmacy Thriving in the COVID-19 Era

Depending on how you define when the COVID-19 crisis started, we are in our third or fourth month as of this writing. The statistics continue to be frightening and it is very hard, even as health care professionals, to filter out the facts from the deluge of information, some of which has been unreliable. Regardless of practice setting, pharmacists continue to be the most accessible health care professional in the community, during a very significant health care crisis. Globally and in the United States, pharmacists are being called on not simply to provide medication, but to be a source of critical information and support for the public.

Over the past several weeks, pharmacists have continued to serve their patients in person, by telephone, and through video conferencing. A trip to the drugstore finds us interacting with patients from behind plexiglass and surgical masks. We have had to navigate new rules in obtaining authorizations and reimbursement for the vital medications we provide our patients.

As always, pharmacists have upped their game and found themselves amongst fellow frontline heroes in health care. At Pharmacy Times®, we quickly mobilized and established new resources for pharmacists through our Pharmacy Heroes program. Despite the fact that, as pharmacists, we practice in a very regulated world in pharmacy, the state boards of pharmacies and regulators have recognized what we can do and have enabled a new paradigm for our practice. At Directions in Specialty PharmacyTM, we are closely monitoring professional activity throughout the country. In this time of crisis, the scope of pharmacy practice has been expanded and pharmacists can provide even more care, allowing us to offer the benefits of our education and training to patients and caregivers.

Positive Outcomes for the Future of Pharmacy

We will get through this crisis. The entire global health care community has rallied to defeat the virus and come up with long-term solutions, such as vaccines and testing. Hopefully, as a result of crisis management, the profession and business of pharmacy can take the expanded scopeof- practice opportunities and create a new norm. Perhaps we can use the data we are collecting to demonstrate tangible value, which will lead to reimbursement for professional services.

Now pharmacists must stand even taller and provide more help to their communities. Let us use this time to not only serve our patients, but to demonstrate our full capabilities. Pharmacists must unite to ensure we are the best we can be. Who knows, it might be through this time of adversity that we truly invest in amplifying our opportunities for the future.