Join us as we celebrate our Sentry employees who have their pharmacist credentials during American Pharmacists Month. Since 2004, the American Pharmacists Association (APhA) has recognized October as American Pharmacists Month as a way to “further raise awareness among the public, patients, policymakers and other stakeholders about the broad roles pharmacists play in healthcare today.”
According to the Department for Professional Employees, there were 282,000 practicing pharmacists in 2015, and employment is expected to grow six percent from 2016-2026. Pharmacists play a vital role in today’s healthcare system by improving patient care and treatment outcomes.
This week we’re talking with Lisa Scholz, Head of Industry Relations at Sentry and 340B subject matter expert.
Sentry: What does your role at Sentry entail?
Lisa: I’m the subject matter expert for 340B and healthcare in our company. I am part of the executive leadership team to help understand the evolution of healthcare and the impact to our customer base, which may involve a range of areas, from product and service development to strategic direction.
I also provide thought leadership presence in the marketplace in the form of presentations, committees and forums, articles, blogs, and social media posts and podcasts. Along with thought leadership, I promote engagement with advocacy and business initiatives impacting Sentry, and Congress and government agencies on healthcare policy and the intersection with our analytics platform and 340B. I enjoy sharing my expert knowledge with customers and partners regarding their business needs for analytics and 340B translated to product management and development teams, sales, marketing, customer success, project management and business development.
Sentry: How has your past experience prepared you for your role at Sentry and as a 340B expert?
Lisa: Having served as a pharmacist and a director of pharmacy for a 340B health system, I’ve been in our customers’ shoes. The journey that led me to Sentry has been an adventure. To become an expert in 340B, it took having a passion for patients, the community and doing the right thing. An expert, as defined by one of my favorite leadership books, “Outliers” by Malcolm Gladwell, is someone with “10,000 hours as the magic number to greatness.” I’ve learned that 10,000 hours in 340B is only the beginning. I have my 50,000 hours and am still growing in five key areas: retail, hospital, government, advocacy and technology.
My path to becoming an expert in 340B was not traveled overnight. It’s been a journey of learning by doing and spending hours refining the skill. After graduating from pharmacy school, I ended up taking a job in a retail pharmacy. I flourished in the environment and was able to support the patients and medical staff, and the gratification was phenomenal! I was able to realize a true patient/provider/pharmacist relationship. I helped patients who couldn’t afford their medications identify patient assistance programs, supported our physicians with medication management programs, and really thrived on making a difference. This position helped me realize the impact a cohesive team can have on vulnerable patient populations.
Sentry: How does being a pharmacist help contribute to or impact your role at Sentry?
Lisa: My pharmacy and 340B experience has really been helpful in my current role with Sentry. In my previous pharmacy work in the day-to-day operations at a 340B hospital, I was supporting and advocating for patients in the safety net. This advocacy was through associations in Washington, D.C. that worked with the government agencies like HRSA, Congress, and all stakeholders to protect 340B. My expertise continues to grow by talking to those on the ground serving patients through 340B and those making decisions in government, and by networking with other 340B experts in different fields of expertise: wholesalers, manufacturers, consultants, pharmacies, advocacy groups and technology companies. It’s a privilege to work with my colleagues at Sentry and to help our customers understand their technology needs.
Sentry: What is the importance of the pharmacist role in hospitals in today’s healthcare climate?
Lisa: Healthcare is changing. Can we influence that change as pharmacists? Absolutely. We need to ensure we have a seat at the table. The old saying, “If you’re not at the table you’re probably on the menu,” rings true. When it comes to healthcare, I want to decide what’s on the menu – better yet, I’d rather be the chef!
Payer models are at the crux of breaking through, and our health system needs solutions that are sustainable, affordable and that work. Pharmacists, in collaboration with health system leadership, can decrease costs and improve patient outcomes. I saw this with the Patient Safety Collaborative that I participated in with HRSA. Pharmacists can and do make a difference. Pharmacy can also help drive change through the systematic review of analytics. With our significant databases, we can provide clearer outlines of our patients and champion change in our nation’s health system.