Continuing education is critical to maintaining your edge in the pharmacy business. This list of pharmacy podcasts from Pharmacy Times inspired us to dig a little deeper for some wider-ranging, business-related podcasts you might enjoy—especially during the holiday next week. (By the way, the Weekly Roundup will not be published the day after Thanksgiving. We hope you enjoy a happy, grateful holiday with your loved ones!) ZigZag is a hodgepodge of stories around entrepreneurship from a new, woman-owned media company called Stable Genius Productions. It’s a little artsy and very genuine. Also, we regularly share stories from Harvard Business Review on these pages; their podcast, Ideacast, provides commentary from an impressive group of leaders in business, politics, science, and journalism. Finally, no list like this would be complete without mentioning The Tim Ferriss Show, covering tactics used by groundbreakers in a range of fields, from finance to sports to business and the arts.
In a study published in October in Infection Control & Hospital Epidemiology, Judith A. Anesi, MD, from the University of Pennsylvania in Philadelphiareiterates what many health professionals have been observing: “Drug-resistant infections are difficult to treat, and our study shows that relapses are common. This is an alarming finding, and interventions to curb antibiotic resistance are urgently needed.” The story is similar in Europe. A recent report by the European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control attributed 33,000 deaths annually to antibiotic resistance—but the field of study remains wide open. German researchers are exploring the incidence of resistant E. coli bacteria on produce. In the U.S., scientists from Boston University posited
Are competitive pressures keeping you up at night? Having trouble shutting down at the end of the day? You’re not alone. When we think of sleep-deprived safety issues in the workplace, many of us think of shift workers or risks like industrial accidents or impaired driving. In fact, the cognitive repercussions of fatigue should make it an important conversation to have in the pharmacy as well—folks like these are making a living off of it. The most forward-thinking in business are focusing on providing intermittent opportunities for employees to “renew and refuel.” Admittedly, the smaller the company, the more challenging that can be (here are some ideas), but it may be even more important. Here are some approaches to keep in mind. The benefits of a good night’s sleep should also make it on your radar at staff meetings—or you run a demonstrable business risk. So make a plan to figure out how to get enough sleep. Set an alarm for when you will stop working for the day. Start the morning with a list of three (ONLY THREE) essential tasks to keep you on track. And don’t forget: This weekend you have an extra hour to think about how to make your workload more sustainable for you and your employees.
As we near the end of American Pharmacists Month (did you #thankapharmacist yet?), it’s not too far out on a limb to suggest that most pharmacists went into the profession because they care about their patients. Granted, we all have to pay the electric bill, and pharmacy is still a good bet for that. But the burnout is also high. It’s challenging to make time to consult with patients—for all pharmacists—even acknowledging that highly personal care is one of the critical points of differentiation between independents and big box stores.
Incoming American Pharmacists Association president, Michael Hogue, told Drug Store News this week that he is "extremely hopeful about the future of pharmacy…but first we have to help lift up our colleagues and move through a difficult period.” Here’s an idea: go fishing. Check out this piece—light on pharmacy but heavy on mental health—that makes for a nice weekend read. On that note (and just in time for the holidays), these tips on stress management are available for you to use with your patients, but as the Greek chorus originally berated Prometheus: physician, heal thyself.
Last month, the FDA green-lighted the EKG app, slated for release with the Apple Watch Series 4. The watch has a fall detector that alerts emergency services if the user falls and does not respond to a pop-up alert within one minute. The new technology may represent patient-centric (and patient-specific) medicine at its best. At a conference earlier this year, I listened as a proponent of digital and bio-digital health products relayed an anecdote about a patient diagnosing himself while waiting for emergency responders to arrive. In the mostly healthcare-provider audience, the story earned a couple of harrumphs and then uncomfortable silence.
A provocative piece in Forbes this week suggested that illnesses related to mental health are one of the most common disabilities in the workplace and that we should encourage more discussion about it—well past “World Mental Health Day,” which occurred on Wednesday. According to the World Health Organization, about half of all mental illness begins by age 14, which makes developing coping strategies at a young age all the more important. But the problem is by no means isolated to any one age group. The impact of mental illness and its treatment in the workforce is also staggering. Pharmacy patients on certain medications or with a chronic illness are especially at risk. A recent study published by the International Journal of Geriatric Psychiatry looked at the high incidence of arthritis alongside depression in adults over 50 years of age. As you’d expect, the pharmacist’s role is growing. Check out these ideas on collaboration and these guidelines for screening and treatment.
Here are a few other stories that might be of interest:
The FDA made headlines this week with its surprise visit to e-cigarette powerhouse Juul, seizing thousands of pages of documents relating to marketing practices, particularly those aimed at teens. Five brands combine to represent 97 percent of the US market for e-cigarettes, and the FDA—who is only recently figuring out how to handle its regulatory authority over the product—is concerned about the smooth delivery of nicotine (from nicotine salts) and kid-friendly flavors, like cotton candy and peanut butter cup. The latest dust-up is a good reminder to pharmacists that e-cigarettes are not a recommended first-line approach for smoking cessation programs. Here are some insights into getting a program started in your pharmacy if you haven’t already done so, and check out this smoking cessation pilot program in West Virginia for more inspiration.
Here are a few other stories that might be of interest:
Last week, the Senate passed the Patient Right to Know Drug Prices Act (S. 2554), swiftly followed by the House this week. The bill was designed to prevent gag clauses from limiting a pharmacist’s ability to tell patients if they will pay less out of pocket than with insurance. One of the bill’s authors, Senator Susan Collins (R-ME), says it is “counterintuitive” for prescriptions to be cheaper if paid with a debit card rather than an insurance card, and the bill has bipartisan support. Similar bills have been presented at the state level. In fact, check out some of the state-level advocacy tracking available here. It’s the result of one of many recent advocacy efforts in the pharmacy space, including a ban on retroactive DIR fees and pharmacy choice legislation that is currently stuck in committee and is likely to reemerge next session. Model PBM legislation is available here—and there’s plenty of time to reach out to your legislators in advance of next session. Are you a pharmacist interested in taking more direct action? Run for office.