I trust your holidays were warm and the new year has gotten off to an excellent start! Virtually all of us endured the bitter cold associated with the Polar Vortex in late January. The groundhog reportedly did not see his shadow on February 2nd. I for one will welcome an early spring!
I also welcome the contents of this issue of Academic Pharmacy Now. Pharmacy is not alone in facing challenges that come with transitions in healthcare financing and organization. In our case, steeply eroding payments to traditional pharmacy operations have become so serious and disruptive to business that it has become a priority of the current Secretary of Health and Human Services Alex M. Azar II. I believe it is a good thing that his point person on prescription drug pricing is Dr. John Michael O’Brien, a graduate of an AACP member school, whose professional career has afforded him unique and extensive insights into prescription pricing “behind the green curtain.” On the other hand, demand for pharmacists equipped to care for patients and contribute to teams in the ambulatory care/clinic environments is rising sharply.
In this issue you’ll find several stories that highlight what our members are doing with curricula in the important areas of informatics and entrepreneurship. It is interesting to reflect historically on the emphasis of these significant topics for pharmacy education. Pharmacists were among the first provider group to introduce computers into daily practice such that virtually 100 percent of community pharmacists were prepared for e-prescriptions as this moved into their practice. That said, electronic health records and the ability for pharmacists in all settings to read and write in their patients’ records has proven to be a long and challenging road. And entrepreneurship (or independent community pharmacy ownership) used to be the primary career track for most pharmacy graduates, albeit 50 years ago or so. This has certainly changed and not all colleges and schools have the faculty to teach and nurture entrepreneurship in our learners.
Organized pharmacy made a commitment almost 10 years ago to work collaboratively on pharmacy informatics at the national level. AACP was a founding organization for the Pharmacy Health Information Technology Collaborative (PHIT). By having one primary focal point for planning strategically about how to ensure pharmacists are connected to other components of patient care, the PHIT staff and workgroup members have brought us to a point of seeking recognition among standards organizations and HIT vendor for the Pharmacists’ E-Care Plan. Several of our faculty members contribute to the PHIT as members and leaders of workgroups.
The 2018 Argus Commission report [https://www.ajpe.org/doi/pdf/10.5688/ajpe7161] contains a recommendation that reflects an appreciation that there are key areas of the Pharm.D. curriculum quite unevenly addressed across our member schools. Informatics is specifically mentioned but there is also a need for education that can equip graduates to enter the workforce armed with the skills and confidence to build new services and business models as entrepreneurs. These two skillsets will set our graduates apart as the marketplace seeks new and more effective approaches to improving the impact and efficiency of healthcare in the digital age. The commission’s third recommendation calls upon AACP to build new faculty development programs to accelerate the capacity for teaching essential content and skills such as those featured in this issue. Plans to do so will emerge soon.
Lucinda L. Maine, Ph.D., R.Ph.
CEO and Publisher