Directly Speaking - Change in Pharmacy Practice: Does It Just Happen or Can It Be Planned?

by Scott A. Meyers, Executive Vice President
January 9, 2014

First a confession – the title of this article is part of the title to a session at the recent ASHP Midyear Clinical Meeting. The full title of the session was “Change in Pharmacy Practice: Does It Just Happen or Can It Be Planned? Lessons from the Mirror to Hospital Pharmacy,” and it was moderated by one of health-system pharmacy’s most prominent visionaries, Bill Zellmer. The program obviously made an impression on me because I’ve chosen its theme, and part of its title for my January column.

The session featured Dr. Gregory Higby, Executive Director for the American Institute of the History of Pharmacy at the University of Wisconsin, and Douglas Scheckelhoff, Vice President for Professional Development for the American Society of Health-System Pharmacists as invited speakers. Dr. Higby presented a historical recap of the first survey of Hospital Pharmacy in the US which collected data from 1957-1963 and resulted in the publication of The Mirror to Hospital Pharmacy in 1964. The audit team responsible for the survey included Donald and Gloria Franke and Cliff Laitiolais, all well-known leaders in hospital pharmacy’s early days! The team started with two separate surveys, a larger 73-question survey sent to hospitals over 100 beds and a smaller 16-question survey sent to smaller hospitals (those under 100 beds). The results of those surveys can be found along with the entire free online “Mirror” here. The historical value of that publication is immense, and while its applicability to today’s health-system pharmacy practice is minimal, it is worth a read by anyone who wants to view the origins of today’s practice.

Doug Scheckelhoff reported on ASHP’s recent and current efforts to measure today’s practice in US hospitals and health-systems. In addition he made some valuable comparisons between practice circa 1960 and today. Most pharmacy directors in the 60’s weren’t interested in preparing sterile intravenous solutions much less could they imagine dealing with the requirements of USP 797 today. Doug’s slides are currently still available on the ASHP Midyear Clinical Meeting Website.

Bill Zellmer added his usual valuable insights and then brought forward two more practitioners to react to the presentations and respond to questions from the audience. Jim Stevenson, Director of Pharmacy at the University of Michigan and Joseph Bonkowski, Pharmacy Systems Manager at Wake Forest Baptist Medical Center, both provided their perspectives on what pharmacy’s future could be. Overall it was an outstanding program that I had just happened to find rather than a program I seriously planned to attend to give me more perspective on today’s pharmacy practice – interestingly similar to the title of the program!

But the real message I want to bring to you, the members of ICHP and the leaders of hospital and health-system pharmacy in Illinois, is that the future of practice often just happens but could be so much more if it were more frequently planned! Planning at the department level, thinking out of the box and further out than just reacting to problems as they surface will help departments move forward to better serve the patients it cares for and the institutions it serves. Searching our practice’s horizon and continuously scanning the local, state and national environment will help pharmacy personnel identify opportunities and arising problems early on so that changes can be made in a systematic and efficient method.

That’s easy to say when resources and time are not an issue. But ICHP can help. We will provide you with education and information that does more than provide solutions to today’s problems. We will continue to strive for educational excellence and professional programming and articles to help our members stay ahead of the curve. We will provide opportunities for pharmacy directors and clinical specialists to meet and share their problems and plans through the pharmacy directors’ network and clinical practitioners and research networks regular meetings. KeePosted will continue to provide valuable articles to keep you informed about changes in the practice act and rules, articles on medication safety and much more.

And we will look to you as you identify new opportunities or solve arising problems, to share what you have learned and done with your professional colleagues and perhaps future friends. We will continue to look to our members to help us move forward as we work on our mission of “Advancing excellence in the practice of pharmacy!” In 2014 we begin to update our strategic plan to better meet our members’ needs. We’ll ask you what you would like to receive as member benefits from us in the future in an effort to keep you and ICHP out on the cutting edge of practice.

ICHP will begin 2014 in a planning mode to work to improve practice. I hope you will begin a planning process no matter how limited or fundamental for your department. Begin a planning process that is proactive, to whatever extent you can afford in time and resources, in order to be more structured on how practice progresses in your institution. And if you already have an extensive planning process in place, let me know. I would love to learn about what you’re doing and perhaps your colleagues would, too. Practice change will continue to just happen in many cases, but let’s see if we can make more changes happen because we planned in 2014 than we have in the past. Happy New Year!

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