Thoughts on the ASHP Summer Meeting (#ashpsm)

I’ve just returned from the ASHP Summer Meeting in Minneapolis, MN. I was there for work, but managed to squeeze in some sessions; just like a real pharmacist.

For those of you that don’t know, the ASHP Summer Meeting is small, really small. It pales in comparison to the ASHP Midyear Meeting that’s held each year in December. Being small doesn’t make it bad, it just makes it small. The sessions are smaller and less grand, and the exhibitor area is quite a bit smaller than Midyear as well.

As mentioned above I was able to take in a few sessions while at the Summer Meeting, but none was as impressive as the Opening Keynote: Exponential Technologies Causing Disruptive Innovation delivered by Peter Diamandis (@PeterDiamandis). Peter was inspiring. He didn’t talk about anything new, in fact I’ve blogged about most of what he mentioned during his presentation, but it was good to hear somebody talking about it. It was good to hear someone saying it out loud. The voices in my head appreciate the company. He has single-handedly reinvigorated by desire to think about this stuff.

Unfortunately I went from the Opening Keynote to a session on 340B Drug Pricing. 340B isn’t my area of expertise, which exactly why I went to the session. There’s a lot of talk about 340B in the pharmacy industry at the moment and I thought I should at least get a peak at what’s going on. I would have been much better off attending the HITECH Update. It’s clear to me that 340B has nothing to do with pharmacy. Not sure who should be paying attention – maybe accountants, lawyers and “business” types – but it’s about as far from practicing pharmacy as insurance billing is in the retail pharmacy sector. I have lots of thoughts on the topic, but they don’t belong in this space.

The last session I attended on Monday was Developing mHealth Tools for Providers and Patients: There’s an App for That. I had certain expectations in mind for this session, but they weren’t met. I wanted to hear what was going on in the mHealth space from experts in the field. I wanted to see some innovative mHealth solutions to common pharmacy problems. I wanted to see how the profession was engaging patients where they live and play, i.e. mobile technologies. The session was all about how the Navy developed an outpatient pharmacy application for their patients. Ok, that’s good. The app appeared to be cool, but the presenter spent a lot of time running through the process of the project…zzzzzzz. His presentation style didn’t help. Presentation Zen was conspicuously absent from the ASHP Summer Meeting. Insert an image people. Show some emotion. Be passionate. Anyway, I did manage to pick up a couple of little tid-bits from the session like the time involved in developing a mobile application as well as the cost associated with this type of project. Not a total loss.

My goal for Tuesday was to attend some “clinical” sessions. I only managed to get to one session before getting sucked into something for work, but it was a good one – New Hypertension and Cholesterol Guidelines: Stay Tuned. I’ve been removed from the day-to-day practice of pharmacy for several years now and I wanted to see if my brain could still handle this type of information. Scratch that, I needed to see if my brain could still handle it. It can. I was pleasantly surprised to find that I knew most of what the speaker was covering, was familiar with the treatment strategies, and was able to recognize drugs, recall use-case scenarios, dosages, etc. It felt good. I sometimes miss that part of pharmacy. Not enough to give up on my interests in technology, but enough to engage my brain from time to time. And to top things off the guy presenting did an excellent job. It was clear that he knew what he was talking about, he was engaging, and you could tell that he was passionate about what he was doing. It made for a great presentation on some rather dry information.

The exhibitor area was really quite small. None of the big boys were present, but I did find some things that stimulated my brain. I continue to be amazed at the number of companies moving into the IV room space, and at the number of different approaches I’m seeing. I’m pleased with what being developed as it appears that the collective minds are beginning to innovate again. Health Robotics had a newly redesigned IV room solution, BD (yep, that BD) was showing off a new (sort of) IV workflow solution, ICU Medical was there with a slightly different take on safe IV administration, and Getinge – a company from France – was there with what I think is the most innovative piece of IV room technology I’ve seen in a long time. I will be posting more on that later. I’m still mulling over what I saw, but it was impressive. It’s made me go back and rethink some of the things I’ve been told couldn’t be done; these guys did it.

That’s pretty much it. A little work, a few sessions, some CE on the side, and the chance to see some things to rekindle my imagination. Good stuff.

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