The last time I attended my professional organization meeting was 4 years ago.  At the time, I was scared about finding another job after my job was eliminated and how that would look, my degree and not being a PharmD, my network, knowing no one outside my little regional health plan in Western New York.  I had my work cut out for me.  I was in a vulnerable position, trying to network and suffering from imposter syndrome in the worst way!


4 years later, I recently attended the AMCP meeting in San Antonio.  I  have since, completed my Masters in Pharmacy Business Administration, created an incredibly supportive, professional network, weathered Covid 19 and started my own company.  I am so happy to reach this place.  I feel so much love from my fellow colleagues and received so many, “you go girl” high fives!  I’ve finally found what I need to do and I’m doing it!


My mission the past week was to dig deep, and discover people’s pain points.  I tried my best to stay on task, to really listen and learn.  It was hard not to interject and solve people’s problems on the spot but I needed to shut up and listen.


I wish I could have cloned myself, there were so many interesting topics, but I stayed focused on a few key areas that got me fired up about my industry and met incredible people doing innovative work.


I discovered plenty of pain points.  For instance, discussions about value-based payment structures and where we are headed.  I sat through presentations on value-based programs taking place over the past 10 years that have led to lackluster participation from providers, attempting incentives for shared savings, low-risk arrangements and improvements in office quality of life.


I spoke to a physician who had been an active participant for years in value-based programs and now, didn’t care to speak to me about pain points because she felt such apathy for the system after years of not seeing results in her efforts.


To be honest, I experienced similar results working on programs over the past 2 decades of my career to improve quality outcomes for patients by sending out reports, statistics, names of people who needed work, and other such information sharing meant to direct opportunities to make interventions.


I understood these pain points acutely.  The tools we had available to us, didn’t work!


Next, the arena for prescription digital therapeutics was inspiring in the passage of the PDT Act of 2023, meaning Medicare and Medicaid will mandate reimbursement for digital therapeutics in 2024.  This means coverage for an armamentarium of tools being designed to treat disease, above and beyond pharmacy or in-person medical care.


For instance, Apps such as the ones from Pear Therapeutics, to treat conditions like Substance Abuse Disorder and Chronic Insomnia and more in the pipeline, increasing access for patients and providing needs that aren’t being met with traditional treatments.


Last but not least, an update on the current state of the opioid epidemic and how prescribers have swung with the pendulum to the other extreme.  God forbid, that you or a loved one needs treatment for pain, because prescribers are not comfortable prescribing opioids AT ALL.  This is an unfortunate consequence of how badly the opioid epidemic has been managed, turning prescribers into scapegoats, now too scared to prescribe opioids within the legitimate scope of their practice.


These issues may appear painful but there is an optimism in seeing how each of these areas could overlap and improve outcomes.  For instance, digital therapeutics and value-based payments working together to improve patient access to care and ease of a prescriber’s practice.


Or using digital therapeutics to reach patients who need access to pain medications by providing abuse-deterrent dispensing devices or to behaviorally support patients being treated for substance use disorder.  There are many applications for behavior modification Apps in all disease states in the digital therapeutics pipeline.


Overall, I left my meeting feeling inspired and optimistic about the coming advancements in technology and innovative solutions they bring to the healthcare landscape, so much so, that I volunteered on committees that will support digital therapeutics and connect me with the Northeast region which is my regional affiliation of my national organization so I can brainstorm further with my colleagues.


I look forward to finding solutions for the pain points that I identified in my research.  I know that my extensive good and bad career experiences  will allow me to make well thought out strategies to support a better healthcare system so that the people we serve can lead their most healthy, fulfilling lives.