Survey Predicts Pharmacy Trends of 2020

ASHP’s annual Pharmacy Forecast is designed to help advance pharmacy practice leadership, and to provide insight into the forecasted trends.

Emerging trends impacting health-system pharmacists were recently revealed during a session at the ASHP (American Society of Health-System Pharmacists) 54th Midyear Clinical Meeting & Exhibition in Las Vegas. The session highlighted ASHP’s annual Pharmacy Forecast, which is designed to help advance pharmacy practice leadership, and to provide insight into the forecasted trends.

In the 8th edition of the forecast, 325 forecast panelists were surveyed, with an 87.1% response rate, as explained by Lee Vermeulen, BSPharm, MS, FCCP, FFIP. The survey introduced 42 scenarios to the panelists, looking for the most “top of mind” response on a scale from “very likely” to “very unlikely.”

A new format, called ‘black swan,’ was incorporated this year, which looked at rare events that have massive consequences. This section provided 6 scenarios to explore how prepared individuals, organizations, and communities are to respond to black swan events in the coming years.

In patient-centered care, 43% of the panelists found that it would be “somewhat likely” that at least 25% of patients who are candidates for treatment with high-cost biologics, cancer chemotherapy, or other novel therapies will decide to forgo that treatment after weighing out-of-pocket costs, clinical benefits, and risks. Rita Shane, PharmD, FASHP, FCSHP, provided a recommendation to this subject, which would involve developing a roadmap to engage patients and care teams in shared decision-making discussions prior to therapy plan development.

Pharmacy workforce is heading in a positive direction in the next 5 years, according to the forecast. Forty-five percent of the panelists felt that it would be “somewhat likely” for at least 10 pharmacy schools to offer a combined physician assistant/PharmD program in the future. Shane recommended that health-systems collaborate with colleges and schools of pharmacy to develop a range of training options for pharmacists that would ensure an adequate supply of staff is capable of meeting the future needs of the health care system.

Another presenter, James. M. Hoffman, PharmD, MS, BCPS, FASHP, discussed pharmacy leadership trends that will arise in the next decade. The results in this section were close, with 39% of panelists feeling “somewhat likely,” and 38% of panelists feeling “somewhat unlikely” towards using a standardized performance model, similar to Magnet for nursing or HIMSS information technology adoption levels for information technology, will be developed to distinguish certain pharmacy departments as centers of excellences.

In pharmaceutical supply chain, 40% of panelists were feeling “somewhat likely,” and 42% feeling “somewhat unlikely” towards federal law incentivizing active pharmaceutical ingredients (API) production in the United States in the future. A recommendation for this subject, presented by Erin R. Fox, PharmD, BCPS, FASHP, is to purchase pharmaceutical products produced in the US or European Union whenever possible. In addition, Fox mentioned that when signing local drug acquisition contracts, pharmacy professionals should insist on disclosure of the source and site of manufacture, ensuring that contracts signed by group purchasing organizations on behalf of health systems also include disclosure.

One of the black swan questions in this year’s Pharmacy Forecast asked panelists, “what percentage of health-systems pharmacists in your region are currently capable of taking the event in stride and successfully adapting in response?” Fifty-five of the panelists answered that 41-50% of health-system pharmacists fit this description, and 45 of the panelists answered that 21-30% of health-system pharmacists fit this description.

Scott J. Knoer, MS, PharmD, FASHP, recommended increasing the relative attention given to long-term strategic issues in the pharmacy department’s planning process. Using annual Pharmacy Forecast reports can help to stimulate this shift, according to Knoer.


Vermeulen L, Shane R, Hoffman J, et al. Pharmacy forecast 2020: trends that will shape your future. Presented at: American Society of Health-System Pharmacists 54th Midyear Clinical Meeting and Exhibition; Las Vegas, Nevada: December 12, 2019.