HOPA Publications Committee
Bonnie Labdi, PharmD RPh, Chair
Ashley Glode, PharmD BCOP, Vice Chair
David DeRemer, PharmD BCOP, Board Liaison
Brandi Anders, PharmD BCOP Megan Bodge, PharmD
Megan Brafford, PharmD BCOP
Courtney Cavalieri, PharmD BCOP Morgan Culver, PharmD BCOP
Morgan E. Culver, PharmD BCOP
Erika Gallagher, PharmD BCOP
Lisa Lohr, PharmD BSPharm BCOP BCPS
Jennifer Kwon, PharmD BCOP
Trevor McKibbin, PharmD MS BCOP
Christan Thomas, PharmD BCOP
Board Update: Why Will Patients Ask for You... By Name?
Sarah Peters, PharmD MPH BCOP
In my remarks at the 12th HOPA Annual Conference, I challenged all of you to think about ways in which our patients will ask for us, their oncology pharmacists, by name. The profession has been working diligently for the last few years to seek “provider status” by amending the Social Security Act to include pharmacists in the list of providers who can bill Medicare Part B for clinical services. Members of the HOPA Board of Directors and Health Policy Committee participated in our second annual Hill Day on April 27, 2016, to advocate for H.R. 592 and S. 314, the Pharmacy and Medically Underserved Areas Enhancement Act. We also advocated for the Cancer Drug Coverage Parity Act (H.R.
2739/ S. 1566), explained the role of the hematology/oncology pharmacist, and provided updates on the new CMS Part B “demonstration project.”
HOPA is a member of the Patient Access to Pharmacists’ Care Coalition, which is a collaboration of multiple pharmacy organizations who lobby year-round to support this legislation. While the profession has aimed specifically these past few years on bills that have been gaining increasing bipartisan support, this effort is not new. In fact, when I was in pharmacy school, I remember being told that we would be entering an era of “pharmaceutical care” and pharmacists would one day “bill for cognitive services.” In addition to 47 states and the District of Columbia, California and Washington recently authorized provider status legislation allowing pharmacists to practice under collaborative drug therapy management proto- cols, many of which predate the newest provider status initiative by many years. However, I’ve met HOPA members who have shared that they never have the opportunity to meet their patients. I’ve met friends, family members, and other colleagues who had not met their oncology pharmacist during their cancer journey, and were un- aware that one was available to them.
As we continue to advocate for the opportunity to bill for these services, it is imperative that we start working toward including our most important advocate—our patients. I have yet to meet a patient who was not appreciative of the interactions that I or other pharmacists have had with them in the clinic. We all have different roles; some of us are working in very busy infusion centers and perhaps are the only pharmacist working to ensure that orders and drug therapy are written, dosed, and prepared safely. Imagine what an impact you could have if you took the time to meet just one patient—maybe that very last patient at the end of the day when you are getting orders ready for the next day—just to introduce yourself and say, “Hi Mrs. Smith. I’m Sarah Peters, and I’m your pharmacist. What questions do you have about your medications? How did that last cycle of chemo go for you? What side effects or symptoms do you have that I can help you with?”
It is incredible what you will learn from that personal interaction with your patients. These are the stories that I told legislators on the Hill in April—and these are the ones that matter. No one cares about how much education, training, or experience we have. They want to know the actual impact that we make. Describing the patient experience to legislators would pale in comparison to an actual patient writing a letter to describe how your interventions mattered to their care. We will need these stories, letters, and support to make provider status a reality, but moreover, we will need them as new payment models focusing on quality, value, outcomes, and impact rather than the quantity of services provided.
Speaking of Hill Day, we had a very successful and busy day on the Hill. We met with over 30 legislative offices from 13 states and learned within days of our visits that four legislators signed on to either the Provider Status or Oral Chemotherapy Parity bills! I asked those who attended for their thoughts on improving Hill Day for the future and one consistent message was to consider expanding participation to include more HOPA members. This is not surprising, given the standing-room only attendance at the advocacy session at this year’s annual conference and that 57 HOPA members have expressed interest in joining the Health Policy Committee through the volunteer activity center. While the board considers this suggestion and thinks of creative ways to implement it in a fiscally responsible manner, I strongly encourage you to consider meeting with your senator or representative while they are home during the summer recess (July 15–September 6 for the House of Representatives and July 18–September 5 for the Senate) on issues that matter to you. The HOPA Health Policy agenda, which includes briefs on a variety of issues with talking points and links to the actual pieces of legislation, and a link to find your senator and representative, can be found on the banner of HOPA’s current website (look for our new website in August!).
As HOPA’s new president, I am looking forward to providing leadership on a number of initiatives, some new and some that started during Scott Soefje’s term: revising the committee structure to be implemented in March 2017 to better coordinate communication among committees; revisiting the Scope of the Hematology/Oncology Pharmacist to work on “part 2”—a more granular and de- tailed version; publication of the Oral Chemotherapy Medication Therapy Management standard and development of tools, resources and perhaps even a “summit” to promote the standard and the pharmacists who provide services in this area; establishing hematology/oncology pharmacy competencies for pharmacy school graduates; enhancing our external collaborations and tangible projects with other pharmacy organizations as well as our partners in hematology/oncology medicine and nursing; implementing the selected Big Idea(s); and of course, monitoring the first year of our excellent BCOP Recertification Program involving over 50 HOPA members.