As we near the holiday season, as perhaps untraditional as it may be this year, I wanted to share some thoughts about what I am thankful for. I find that taking time to identify what I’m appreciative of is a good practice at aligning myself to see the positives in what can feel like a blanket of negative, especially in times like these where it can be hard to focus on the good among all the bad that is circulating. I encourage all of you to spend a little time thinking about what you are thankful for this year and share it with someone close to you.
To begin, I am thankful for my family and friends. Through this challenging time they have embraced tele-based conversations and get-togethers, game nights on the web, and many other forms of virtual meetings for us to stay connected. This was not easy for many and I am very thankful for all their efforts, it has been needed as a fun release this year. For those of you who are unable to connect as readily, or have experienced one loss or another over the year, this can be a really burdensome time. Too many have had to say goodbye to a loved one without a last embrace, have left a job without any chance at an in person goodbye, or have foregone a hug from a friend when perhaps you needed it most. These losses and changes in our lives can be, or can add up to be, significant sources of grief and I’m sure that you or someone on your work calls or in your bubble are experiencing this grief whether they are acknowledging it or not. McKinsey consultants released an article in September titled, “The Hidden Perils of Unresolved Grief”, and while it is focused on the workplace and the challenges of unresolved grief, it is also a guide for first understanding, and then working forward, whether for yourself or for a loved one, teammate, or friend to find resolution. I highly recommend reading this, whether or not you are in a leadership role, as a means to first understand any grief you are experiencing, and second to help any team members or colleagues who may similarly be struggling. You may be able to make a difference that could be significant for someone around you.
I am also thankful for the awareness that has been brought to me about racism. While uncomfortable at times, reading and learning about the history and current presence of racism in my life has allowed me to reflect upon the status quo and make new choices to create more equitable systems. Recently I read an article in NEJM called Hidden in Plain Sight. This article details clinical algorithms that consider race as a basis for prioritizing care, in which nearly every case leads to scores indicating a reduced risk for those of racial backgrounds of color. This in turn has the effect of de-prioritizing resources to those populations who may be at an equal amount of risk. More research is needed to update these algorithms, but I recommend reading the article and considering starting conversations at your organization about how our EHRs could be reconfigured to be more equitable for the resources we deploy to those we serve. Additionally, I read this article on LinkedIn and resonated with the closing, “Receive. Reflect. Change.” I think this embodies what those of us who do not experience racism on a daily basis can do to make a difference in the world around us. In this vein, I recommend reviewing this article on ASHP Intersections about three Pharmacy School Deans and their championing of community partnership and social justice. Let us celebrate their accomplishments and work to see more leadership like theirs in our pharmacies and schools.
I am additionally grateful for all of the research that has been completed this year. We as a profession of pharmacy and healthcare in general, have made tremendous progress on the research into the treatment of COVID-19 and how to save those who are most greatly affected. Countless lives are now being saved when before we did not know enough to be able to do so. Additionally, research into AI has continued to progress quickly and we now have a wealth of information at our fingertips on how to use different forms of this science. There are use cases in so many medical journals it is hard to count. If you find yourself, your leaders, your teams, or your learners wondering how to learn more, I recommend reading this article released by AJHP on making sense of AI in pharmacy. For a more formal framework on evaluating articles that use machine learning I recommend this JAMA article released last year. Both are good resources for educating those in pharmacy about these new tools and how we as informaticists see their upcoming use in our electronic health records and applications.
Finally, I am thankful for you. Without your ideas, your drive, and your experience that you provide we would not be where we are at today in the world of pharmacy informatics. I am truly honored and blessed to be chair of such an outstanding, brilliant group, and I cherish each email, note, and communication I get from each of you.
In other news, there have been several great updates over the last two months I wanted to share:
The FDA, responding after ASHP’s and other’s advocacy efforts, have decided to waive some track and trace requirements during the pandemic. Certain requirements of the DSCSA (Drug Supply Chain Security Act) have had their enforcement delayed until November of 2023. If you want to read more on this please go here to read about ASHP’s efforts and their effect or here to listen to a recently recorded podcast on the topic.
On September 22, 2020 the FDA established the Digital Health Center of Excellence (DHCoE.) The DHCoE will have oversight as one of its responsibilities of digital health technology. They held a listening session on October 19th and you can view the presentation materials and learn more about DHCoE here at this link.
AJHP has announced two new themed issues. If you have research or articles you wish to be considered, please use the links below to submit!
Medication-use Process: This theme issue will focus on the impact of pharmacy departments on the medication-use process. Authors of abstracts submitted by Nov. 15, 2020, will have the best chance of being invited to submit full-length manuscripts for possible inclusion in the theme issue.
Telehealth: This theme issue will focus on the impact of pharmacists in telehealth, including comprehensive medication management, or telepharmacy programs across the continuum of care, including the ambulatory and acute care settings. Authors of abstracts submitted by Nov. 30, 2020, will have the best chance of being invited to submit full-length manuscripts for possible inclusion in the theme issue.
Two new sections have been announced by ASHP over the last two months. These are the Section of Community Pharmacy Practitioners and the Section of Pharmacy Educators. These two sections will no doubt benefit ASHPs efforts in supporting their mission and vision. If you want more information on these and other new developments I recommend reading Paul Abramowitz’ blog linked here on ASHP Connect.
In closing, I would like to wish you a happy holiday season. While this year may be different for so many reasons my wish for you is that you have time to check in with yourself, rest and relax, celebrate your successes and learn from your challenges, and that you find motivations to move forward into 2021 with renewed energy. I hope that you find love and kindness this season, and stay safe from illness and harm.
With much respect,
Seth W. Hartman, Pharm.D., M.B.A.
Chair, Section of Pharmacy Informatics and Technology