Where do health system pharmacists find themselves every December? In 2019 it was Las Vegas—a fitting location for the theme of “bigger and brighter,” to showcase the current and future status of health system pharmacy practice. The American Health-System Pharmacists Mid-Year Clinical Meeting is the premier event for new graduates and professionals to seek residency training programs, in addition to possible opportunities for career moves in both leadership and clinical positions. The meeting is also an opportunity for vendors to showcase new drug products, services, technology, equipment and devices.
This year, as always, the meeting featured a variety of sessions on the clinical achievements of health system practitioners and the recognition of pharmacy operations by the nation’s leading health system institutions.
Sentry Data Systems was proud to be an exhibitor this year, with an emphasis on helping health systems manage claims for payers such as Medicaid and Medicare while maintaining 340B compliance. The launch of Claims Manager Plus, Sentry’s innovative new solution that helps hospitals adhere to payer reporting requirements—minimizing payer denials and accelerating payment for 340B covered entities’ Medicaid pharmacy claims—was a focus for us at the event. You could also find our team participating in the 340B Health breakfast meeting and PAC reception, where we made personal contributions to support the protection of the 340B program.
Our teams then split our time between roundtables, networking with women in leadership, and educational sessions focused on specialty pharmacy, infusion centers, reimbursements, forecasting the future, and policy implications related to drug shortages, drug pricing and provider status. When we were not in sessions and roundtables, our evenings during the conference were filled with networking at the state receptions with our colleagues and friends.
340B Health breakfast meeting
The issues and challenges surrounding the 340B program 2019 have been multi-faceted, with no one topic really taking center stage. The conference, therefore, featured updates on the state and federal decisions impacting the program, news on the changes in audit and compliance and stories that demonstrated the value of the program to patients through impact profiles.
Additional topics touched upon at the event included:
- Audits – Hospitals make up 78% of the annual audits conducted by Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA). There has been an improvement in audit results for hospitals in both diversion and database findings over the past few years.
- Duplicate discounts – A discussion on Medicaid duplicate discounts revealed an increase in third-party auditors working on behalf of manufacturers. Covered entities were encouraged to collaborate with the third parties in good faith.
- PBMs – There are still concerns regarding Pharmacy Benefit Management (PBM) companies placing more restrictions on covered entities; this discussion led to the request for a task force to support identifying these unfair and discriminatory practices.
- State laws – While states have only recently begun to play a role in 340B program regulation, there was quite a lot of discussion at the event on both state laws that were helpful in preventing discriminatory practices and those that could negatively impact access to 340B. Hospitals were encouraged to report such laws and changes to 340B Health for follow up.
- Industry reports – Finally, a new report from 340B Health discussing how 340B program savings improve patient outcomes was a highlight of the morning.
ASHP educational sessions of interest: 340B and not 340B
The ASHP Midyear conference typically attracts around 25,000 attendees, and the topics for discussion vary widely, representing the breadth of pharmacists’ roles in health system pharmacy. Some educational sessions this year included:
- Informatics – A track focused on informatics helped attendees see the value in technology, and more specifically, utilization of data scientists to provide real-world analytics for decision support.
- Infusion centers – There were also several infusion center discussions focused on site-of-care shifting by both employers and insurers. Dialogue there focused on demonstrating the superb outcomes that health systems can provide through their service lines.
Through engaging dialogue with colleagues throughout the event, we were able to break apart the various challenges covered entities are facing, and identify potential solutions to train staff, obtain certifications, review reimbursement strategies and master the art of the negotiation.
While the business of pharmacy is key, there were also many sessions focused on the well-being of staff and the need for resilience, both important factors in being able to adapt and evolve. Conference presenters shared the ASHP 2020 Pharmacy Forecast, an annual report that “examines developments in key areas that may be opportunities or challenges for practice leaders in the next five years,” according to the ASHP website. Presenters discussed the findings in the report, offering recommendations for monitoring supply chain evolution, workforce needs, leadership challenges, health reform, evidence-based pharmacy practice and patient-centered care, among other important elements. The forecast “reports the results of a survey of trend watchers in pharmacy, analyzes potential developments and presents actionable strategic recommendations,” according to ASHP.
Focus on 340B
Apexus facilitated this year’s 340B session—a tradition Apexus has developed and upheld at the conference over the past decade. Session highlights included a resident’s productivity/time study, presented by a hospital that manually audits each 340B claim for eligibility. The hospital’s 340B support team presented the results of the study, which concluded that this manual auditing took approximately four minutes per claim—imagine how those minutes can add up over months and years! The presenters then conducted an audience poll, asking covered entity attendees whether they manually audited each 340B claim at their own health systems; only a very small number indicated that they did so.
Another hospital shared dashboard reports demonstrating key areas of importance for monitoring compliance. Finally, Apexus presented on the topic of the types of support and resources they provide to covered entities and highlighted various crucial areas for assessing metrics—including in 340B savings, staffing and compliance.
The annual ASHP meeting is filled with opportunities to network, learn and engage with colleagues from around the country. Sentry was excited to meet with our customers, prospects and longstanding colleagues to share ideas, solutions and insights into the challenges facings health system pharmacies. Sentry Data Systems has solutions for the most critical 340B challenges facing health systems today, from our Sentinel Hospital Procurement and 340B Compliance, to Sentrex 340B Contract Pharmacy Management, to the new Claims Manager Plus. Our focus is on delivering more to our customers—empowering you to optimize your 340B operations as we look to the future together.