ASHP 2015 Summer Meetings: Takeaways for Health-System Pharmacists

June 10, 2015

The opportunities and challenges in health-system pharmacy are broader and larger than one can imagine, but achievements are being made one day at a time.

After attending the American Society of Health-System Pharmacists (ASHP) 2015 Summer Meetings and Exhibition in Denver, Colorado, I felt re-energized and re-charged about my career choice, especially my focus on health-system pharmacy.

The opportunities and challenges in health-system pharmacy are broader and larger than one can imagine, but achievements are being made one day at a time without ever straying from the ultimate goal.

While attending numerous sessions and engaging in active networking opportunities at the ASHP Summer Meetings, I made the following observations:

The boutique meeting concept is a success.

Instead of holding one general meeting with various educational sessions and broad themes, the ASHP divided its Summer Meetings into 4 areas focused on ambulatory care, informatics, medication safety, and practice and policy. This boutique structure resembles a meeting within a meeting. This unique configuration has not only increased attendance, but also allowed for greater depth of content and more engagement on applying new concepts throughout health-systems.

Ownership of the medication use process is essential for the profession’s success.

I heard presentations that focused on education, medication safety, data analytics, placing pharmacists in new and different roles, and the use of technology to advance patient care. If pharmacists want to ensure that patients have efficient, effective, and safer care, then they need to take ownership of medications across the entirety of the health-system. While this concept might not have been specifically expressed in the presentations, it definitely weaved through all of them. Accomplishing this would be achieved through activities like dispensing of medications, education about their use, and updating medication lists across care transitions.

Complicated and controversial policies persist for pharmacists.

In the ASHP House of Delegates, topics like the pharmacist’s role in capital punishment, proper use of medical marijuana, managing the growing cost of medications, and availability of naloxone were discussed. None of these areas have easy solutions. Numerous regulatory, professional, and political issues are involved, and emotions are elicited when they are discussed. Nevertheless, the dialogue was professional, courteous, and progressive. This type of deliberation will help guide health-system pharmacists, as future policy discussions will only be more complicated and controversial.

It is all about the patient.

At the end of the day, all of the educational sessions, keynote speakers, policy deliberations, and networking events were about ways to improve the care that health-system pharmacists provide to patients. Health-system pharmacists very much understand the reasons for their tireless work and advocacy. From the newest graduates to the most seasoned professionals, health-system pharmacists have embraced patients and their health outcomes. This focus will be essential as pharmacists become recognized as patient care providers and help evolve all health-systems to meet these ideals.

I continue to enjoy attending ASHP conferences, especially with the new format of the Summer Meetings. I encourage all health-system pharmacists to attend the upcoming 50th ASHP Midyear Clinical Meeting this December in New Orleans. It will be an event not to miss.

I would appreciate any insights you might have on this perspective. Let me know what you think via email at seckel@unc.edu.