December 1, 2017

‘Glass Class’ in Helena Has Offered CE Opportunity for More than a Decade

Each year for the last 11 years, pharmacists have gathered on an autumn weekend in Helena to learn something new about their profession as part of a Continuing Education class. For Becky Hall, Ed.D., the class stirs memories of her father, Gerald Glass, Pharm.D.

For more than 50 years in nearby Marvel, Glass ran a pharmacy. He persuaded the UAMS College of Pharmacy to start offering some continuing education classes for pharmacists in the Delta region. After his passing, Hall, her mother, the Helena Health Foundation and members of the community raised $40,000 to establish a small endowment fund to support the Gerald Glass Continuing Education Program’s class.

“Daddy would be tickled,” Hall said. “He’s probably watching from Heaven. We’ve gotten good feedback from pharmacists. We have pharmacists who come from all over, really, because they need the credits, and they like it. It’s easy for some of them to come here from all up and down the Delta.”

Hall is also director the UAMS East Regional Campus in Helena.

Physicians, nurses and health educators are now welcome to attend the class as well.

On a Saturday in late October, Megan Smith, Pharm.D., was one of two featured speakers for the ‘Glass Class’ in Helena. Despite the long drive, Smith welcomed the opportunity to speak to the group of about 20 in attendance.

“For me, it was really nice to expand my presentation to an hour or more, answer more questions and put more depth into explaining what we are doing,” Smith said. “They had great feedback and questions. They were really engaged. My compliments to the organizers, they did a good job of picking topics that go together and showcased the newest things coming down the road.”

Smith discussed the Community Pharmacy Enhanced Services Network she helps to facilitate. Lauren Glaze, Pharm.D., who teaches at the UAMS South Regional Campus in Magnolia, spoke about what she is doing with primary practice there. Both Smith and Glaze are assistant professors in the UAMS College of Pharmacy’s Department of Pharmacy Practice.

Smith gave the example of a community pharmacist in Iowa who challenged Iowa’s Wellmark Blue Cross and Blue Shield to measure his patient outcomes. The pharmacist had started playing a more active role in making sure his patients/customers were taking their medications properly and were achieving their health care goals. Wellmark Blue Cross and Blue Shield was surprised to learn he was saving an average of $300 per member per month in cost of care. Those results prompted the formation of an enhanced service network for Iowa.

Smith helped to establish just such a network in Arkansas in March. The goal of the pharmacy network is to improve the quality of care and patient outcomes related to the best medication use and utilization of health care resources leading to a reduction in the total cost of care for that patient. It also can involve pharmacists providing important health screenings and monitoring a patient’s health.

Sometimes that can entail higher drug costs and increased visits to a primary care physician, but it should mean fewer Emergency Department visits, hospitalizations, and preventable readmissions, Smith said.

To do that, a network member pharmacy has to agree to provide a level of service to patients above and beyond traditional dispensing services. Recently, Smith surveyed the members.

“Overall, I was pleasantly surprised that everybody was providing all of these services consistently,” Smith said. “It wasn’t just done one time. They were well sustained with a good base number of patients. They’ve really built their work flow around it.”

She said two of the pharmacists at the Helena class had heard about the network, but the remainder hadn’t. The class gave her the opportunity to spread the word farther, she said, and it was an experience as a presenter she wouldn’t mind repeating.