I am impressed with the growth and output of the Section of Specialty Pharmacy Practitioners (SSPP) in just the few short years since its inception in 2018. I’m continually astounded by the enthusiasm the members of this Section have for the practice of specialty pharmacy! Thank you all for the time and effort it has taken to build this section into the community it has become. The growth of Health System Specialty Pharmacy (HSSP) is not slowing down, and our efforts to innovate and advance won’t either!
I also want to thank you for the opportunity to serve the SSPP as Chair of the Section. The role of the Executive Committee (EC) is to provide guidance on ways ASHP can meet the day-to-day practice needs of our members, and I am grateful for your trust in me to chair this effort. I’m honored to serve alongside our other EC members: Erica Diamantides, University of Washington Medicine (Director-at-Large), Sheena Babin, Ochsner Specialty Pharmacy (Director-at-Large), and Matthew Rim, University of Illinois at Chicago (Immediate Past Chair). Congratulations to Scott Canfield (Chair-elect) and Ashley (Kappenman) Ryther (Director-at-Large-Elect) on success with the recent election! We are also forever grateful to JoAnn Stubbings for the leadership and guidance she has provided since the inception of the Section! We also greatly appreciate the support of our ASHP staff and liaisons David Chen and Karly Low. Thank you also to Casey White for serving as our ASHP Board Liaison last year.
Our mission remains the same: Advance Specialty Pharmacy care through research, continuous innovation, quality improvement, practice and practitioner resources, removal of barriers to specialty medications and increasing transparency in patient care. We have learned from each other how to pivot quickly and do what it takes to care for our patients despite the pandemic. This has required navigation of complexities such as maintaining operations while keeping our staff safe, coordinating care for patients under quarantine, and assisting those in financial need find ways to persist on the medications they require. We also strive to remove all barriers to care caused by injustices based on race and socioeconomic status.
The SSPP had an incredibly prolific year and I stand in awe of all that was accomplished. In July, ASHP held the Specialty Pharmacy Conference: Optimizing Patient Outcomes and Operational Excellence. On day one, the conference kicked off with a drumbeat for our patient’s best outcomes -- the “why” behind everything we do. The results of the first National Survey of HSSP Practice were presented, and the remainder of the day split into Practitioner and Business focused tracks. The first day concluded with a Town Hall at which highlights from the Specialty Pharmacy Future Directions Summit and recommendations for the advancement of HSSP practice were shared. Our section leadership is working on strategies to incorporate these recommendations into Section Advisory Groups (SAG) activities to foster progress toward these aspirations. Day two began with an emphasis on value-based care, and after the focused sessions everyone came back together to discuss proving our value with metrics and measures. The virtual poster session highlighted some of the work being done around the country (as well as internationally) in the HSSP space. The event wrapped up on day three with interactive workshops focused on building the foundations of an outcomes research initiative, as well as how to expand these efforts for those members with more established programs. The conference was a success and is just the beginning of the SSPP’s initiative to equip our members with resources and tools to establish, grow and optimize their outcomes focused strategies and capabilities.
Our Section Advisory Groups and Committees are productive as a result of our highly engaged members, and we added a fourth SAG for the upcoming year to focus on Accreditation and Compliance. Thank you to all of those who have volunteered their time and expertise, and congratulations to the newly appointed members to the Section Advisory Groups and the Educational Steering Committee! These groups will begin meeting this month to strategize for the upcoming year. The primary goal of our SAGs and Educational Steering Committee is to provide section members with quality resources to facilitate the advancement of SP practice. Make sure to check out the Specialty Pharmacy Resource Center for updated content, including a Staffing metrics internal benchmarking resource, templates to share your value story with stakeholders, and webinars focused on best practices. And don’t forget to reach out to your colleagues on the ASHP SSPP Connect Community.
As a result of our combined experiences, our Section is certain that the integrated HSSP model offers the best continuum of care and provides an optimal experience for patients. The personalized, high touch attention our teams are able to provide ensures the best outcomes of specialty therapy. I know we have a lot of work to do to ensure that the practice of HSSP not only remains viable but thrives. As we move forward, we must continue to highlight the value of our practice and make sure we are heard at the national level. I know there are many issues that make us all lose sleep: drug pricing, 340B challenges, workforce shortages, payer and manufacturer network exclusions (to name a few), but for every difficulty I believe there is an opportunity. With the advocacy of ASHP behind the dedicated members of this section, I believe we will continue to set the standard for safe, optimal, effective and accessible care for patients who require specialty medications!
Thank you for your enthusiasm for HSSP, it is truly energizing! Please post your questions and thoughts on Connect or reach out to me or any of the Section representatives. Your ideas and feedback allow us to focus on what is important to you and your practice!
Tara N. Kelley, Pharm.D., MMHC, CSP
Chair, Section of Specialty Pharmacy Practitioners (2021-2022)