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Highlights of 2019 HOPA Practice Management

Julianne O. Darling, PharmD BCOP
Outpatient Oncology Clinical Specialist
Indiana University Simon Cancer Center
Indianapolis, IN

The 2019 Hematology/Oncology Pharmacy Association Practice Management program1 was held in Charlotte, NC, on Friday, September 13, and Saturday, September 14. This meeting offered both live and virtual participation, and attendees included 250 hematology and oncology pharmacists and administrators from across the country.

Three preconference sessions were offered on September 13: “Investigational Drug Services” (covering safety, standards, and regulatory issues), “The Growing Role of Specialty Pharmacy as an Extension of the Cancer Care Team,” and “Best Practices for Cancer Care at Integrated Delivery Networks.” In addition, a Quality Improvement (QI) Workshop was held on September 12. This workshop was organized by the HOPA Quality Oversight Committee as an introduction to the American Society of Clinical Oncology (ASCO) Quality Training Program (QTP). Thirty-one HOPA members attended this workshop to learn about the components of QI in health care from ASCO QTP leaders Michael Keng, MD; Vedner Guerrier, MBA LSSBB; and Amy Morris, PharmD. (See HOPA News, Vol. 16, no. 4, for additional coverage of this workshop.)

The general sessions kicked off at noon on Friday with a presentation on the practical implementation of biosimilars. This session included comments from three pharmacists (two working with Kaiser Permanente and one working with BlueCross BlueShield of North Carolina) about considerations for payers and providers related to biosimilar use. Next, Russell Greenfield, MD, gave the presentation “Integrative Oncology: Separating Wheat from Chaff.” Dr. Greenfield discussed the expanding role of the pharmacist and included a number of patient scenarios to highlight the need for healthcare providers to communicate with patients regarding integrative or alternative medications. One study noted that 38% of the American population is interested in complementary or alternative medicine, and interest is even higher in the cancer population (up to 68%).2 Above all else, Dr. Greenfield emphasized the need for pharmacists to take the lead in supporting the well-being of each patient through safely managing patients’ use of vitamins, supplements, and herbs in addition to their traditional cancer treatment.

Along with the continuing education programming offered at the meeting, a number of presentations and networking events allowed attendees the opportunity to get to know one another. On Friday evening an update on HOPA’s Pilot Mentorship Program was led by Becky Fahrenbruch, PharmD BCOP. This program was developed by the Leadership Development Subcommittee to gauge interest in a mentorship program for HOPA and determine the best steps for implementing such a program. This year, five pairs of mentees and mentors met in monthly calls to discuss various leadership topics. In conjunction with the monthly calls, the group participated in a meet-and-greet event at HOPA’s 2019 Annual Conference in Fort Worth, TX. To conclude the pilot program, the group met for breakfast during HOPA’s 2019 Practice Management program to discuss the book Conscious: The Power of Awareness in Business and Life, by Bob Rosen and Emma-Kate Swann. The book-club breakfast was a great occasion for the participants to get to know one another and learn from the mentors’ involvement in HOPA over the years.

Friday night concluded with a presentation by Heidi Finnes, PharmD BCOP, titled “You Can Move Mountains.” Dr. Finnes discussed her nontraditional path to becoming a pharmacy leader and the ways that her melanoma diagnosis helped her gain perspective both personally and professionally. This session was informative and inspirational: Dr. Finnes gracefully discussed her experience as both a patient and a provider and helped the audience understand how these experiences shaped her leadership skills and management style. Her humble but impactful presentation left the audience feeling motivated and eager for day 2.

Saturday opened with a general session by Jason Bonner, PhD, on healthcare provider burnout and key strategies for developing resilience. Alarmingly, pharmacy ranks among the top professions with the highest rates of suicide. Dr. Bonner reviewed an article by Durham and colleagues revealing that pharmacists who had less than 15 years of experience were at higher risk of burnout.3 As a new practitioner, I was struck by this statistic, which really shifted my perspective on burnout. In his discussion of ways to develop resilience, Dr. Bonner highlighted the need for social support, optimism and confidence, effective communication, and the ability to manage powerful emotions and impulses.

Saturday’s later sessions included “Value-Based Care and the Role of Medication Optimization,” “Regulatory Updates,” “Strategies to Overcome Site-of-Care Restrictions,” and “Generational Differences.” Steven Gilmore, PharmD BCOP, Rowena Schwartz, PharmD BCOP FHOPA, and Damary Torres, PharmD, led the panel discussion of generational differences. The panelists described evidence-based differences between generations (Millennials, Generation X, Baby Boomers, and Generation Z) and ways to optimize collaboration between members of different generations. They reviewed positive and negative qualities attributed to each generation and discussed with the audience how to use each generation’s strengths to enhance teamwork.

The conference concluded Saturday afternoon with the keynote address “CPR for the Oncologist’s Soul” by Steven Eisenberg, DO. Dr. Eisenberg opened by expressing his appreciation for oncology pharmacists and the teamwork that is such an integral part of oncology care. He highlighted the ways that stress and anxiety have an impact on healthcare providers. In his heartfelt presentation, Dr. Eisenberg demonstrated how one of his patients changed his perspective on burnout through “the Flavie Effect.” Flavie, one of his patients, taught him that illness starts with ‘I,’ and wellness starts with ‘we.’ ” Throughout his address, Dr. Eisenberg emphasized the need for everyone to have Connection, be Present, and develop Resilience—CPR.

HOPA’s 2020 Annual Conference will be held March 11–14, 2020, in Tampa, FL, and the 2020 Practice Management program will be held September 11–12, 2020, in Houston, TX.


  1. Hematology/Oncology Pharmacy Association. 2019 Practice Management(courseschedule and session descriptions).
  2. Johnson SB, Park HS, Gross CP, Yu JB. Use of alternative medicine for cancer and its impact on survival. J Natl Cancer Inst. 2018 January 1;110(1):121-124. Available at
  3. Durham ME, Bush PW, Ball AM. Evidence of burnout in health-system pharmacists. Am J Health Syst Pharm. 2018 December 1;75(23 Supplement 4):S93-S100. Available at Epub 2018 October 17.