Annual Pharmacy Forum focuses on the future

After only a few presentations at the 2014 National Pharmacy Forum – an annual event co-hosted by the Healthcare Supply Chain Association (HSCA) and the Healthcare Industry Supply Chain Institute (HISCI) – the shifting healthcare horizon quickly emerged as an unofficial theme. The conference, which took place February 24-26 in Scottsdale, Ariz., has become known not only for its warm and friendly atmosphere, but also for its high-quality, high-touch programming that continually exceeds the expectations of attendees.

This year’s Forum provided attendees with a comprehensive outlook on the dynamic state of the pharmaceutical sector. A variety of speakers, including supply chain experts and public officials, offered strategic insights to facilitate better planning and performance amidst a groundswell of change.

Significant expertise and industry experience were evident at every panel. Banner Health delivered a double-dose of insight, with keynote speaker and thought leader Peter S. Fine, Banner’s president and CEO, offering his insights on Banner’s strategy of utilizing an operating company structure to more nimbly adjust to the Affordable Care Act and other more market-driven changes; and Pam Nenaber, CEO of Banner’s Pharmacy Services, presenting a deep dive into the organization’s formulary strategy.

IDNs’ perspective
The shifting horizon of healthcare remained on display during a panel on the changes that are occurring in three important integrated delivery networks (IDNs) around the country. This discussion, which focused on value-based drug assessment, featured panelists Terri Corbo, vice president of pharmacy services for Christiana Care Health System; Brian Sayre, health system director of pharmacy for Charleston (WV) Area Medical Center; and Martin Caponi, director of pharmacy for PeaceHealth. After reviewing their respective pharmacy programs, the panelists discussed the role of value-based assessment in their formulary development processes. Each of these speakers provided details about the clinical and financial metrics used in decision-making processes, including the value that suppliers can bring.

Technologies and innovations
Two innovative medicine experts – Brian Hocum, an adjunct faculty member at Washington State University College of Pharmacy and personalized prescribing clinical pharmacist for Genelex Corporation, and Harry Glorikian, managing director of strategy at Precision for Medicine and founder of Scientia Advisors – discussed the newest technologies and innovations affecting patient care in terms of diagnostic and therapeutic medicine. Hocum and Glorikian noted that changes in the field are being driven by Affordable Care Act payment methodologies and that, as a result, providers are organizing themselves differently. One of the major takeaways from the panel was that market power is shifting toward a new model of care, requiring suppliers to adjust or be left playing catch up.

Supply chain security
Dirk Rodgers of Dirk Rodgers Consulting, LLC, described the challenges of the new Federal Drug Supply Chain Security (DSCS) Act, which was signed into law in November. Rodgers broke the complex law down into a series of manageable questions: What is the new law trying to accomplish? Why are pedigree laws on the rise here and around the world? What options are there for meeting the law here in the U.S.? What might we expect when the DSCS takes effect? Are drug shortages an open invitation for criminals to introduce illegitimate product into our legitimate supply chain? By including a variety of case studies of pharmaceutical crimes within the supply chain and juxtaposing them against the new law, Rodgers helped the audience learn about the latest thinking on how to prevent criminals from attacking our drug supply.

Medicaid expansion
In a panel that focused on Medicaid expansion, State Representative Heather Carter, co-chair of the Arizona Health and Human Services Committee, and Don Hughes, deputy policy director in the Office of Arizona Governor Jan Brewer, discussed the political and policy implications of increased enrollment. By providing an up-close-and-personal perspective on how Arizona has weathered this debate, especially in terms of the role of business leaders and the impact on the broader community of healthcare providers, Carter and Hughes provided an indication of how the debate may play out in the states.

A brighter future
Doug Long, vice president of industry relations for IMS Health, provided an overview of the U.S. pharmaceutical market and the ongoing changes within the pharmaceutical world, with a focus on drugs moving to Phase III clinical trials. Mr. Long covered a number of topics, including upcoming patent cliffs, market trends, current hospital data, FDA challenges, drug shortages, and cutting edge changes in the pharmaceutical industry. Mr. Long provided hope to battle-worn attendees, suggesting that a brighter future is near for the industry, especially in the area of specialty and biopharmaceuticals.

Expanded pharmacists’ role
Other speakers urged attendees to look beyond the Pharmacy and Therapeutics Committee. For example, Jarrod Kile, clinical pharmacy specialist in infectious diseases for the Lehigh Valley Health Network, described the roles pharmacists can play in areas in which their input isn’t normally requested, such as the hospital products committee. Mr. Kile also demonstrated that looking at the “complete” picture in treating patients can be cost-effective and also increase quality.

Specialty Pharmacy Taskforce
The formation of the Specialty Pharmacy Taskforce Initiative at University HealthSystem Consortium (UHC) was the subject of another panel. The panel, which included Kevin Colgan, corporate director of pharmacy for Rush Hospital, Doug Smith, senior director of supply chain for UHC, and Jake Groenewold, senior vice president of supply chain for UHC, covered the new program’s benefits as well as an overview of the process undertaken to develop the final product. The audience also engaged in a lively question and answer discussion related to business dealings associated with the Specialty Pharmacy Initiative.

Pharmacy Committee update
Finally, Gary Freeman, vice president of pharmacy for Amerinet, Inc., Ron Hartmann, Pharm.D., senior vice president of pharmacy for MedAssets, and John Van Eeckhout, vice president of clinical services for Children’s Hospital Association, discussed HSCA’s Pharmacy Committee, including past accomplishments and current initiatives, as well as an outlook for the future regarding drug shortages, the 340B program and other issues. Members of the panel also offered best practices for working with their respective group purchasing organizations (GPOs), and described how they will approach several of the hot button public policy issues in the future.

After surviving a particularly brutal winter, attendees enjoyed the fact that most of the after-panel briefings in Arizona occurred outside, under a clear sky with afternoon temperatures hovering around 80 degrees. This year’s Pharmacy Forum provided a timely reminder of how important it is to escape the day-to-day routine once in a while and attend an industry meeting that focuses on the future – a future that, while uncertain, is full of opportunity.

Curtis Rooney is president of the Healthcare Supply Chain Association,

About the Author

Curtis Rooney
Curtis Rooney is president of the Healthcare Supply Chain Association,