The COVID-19 pandemic continues to cause immense challenges across our nation. Today, I want to acknowledge the difficult situation facing many hospitals and health systems as a result of disruptions in routine or elective procedures and reductions in inpatient hospital stays. Of particular concern is the impact this situation is having on residency training.
Educating future generations of pharmacists is more critical than ever, and ASHP stands ready to support you in this time of need, including seeking ways to maximize the flexibility of our residency accreditation standards. Resident training is a critical component of pharmacy education, and we are hopeful that organizations will not furlough or terminate their current PGY1 and PGY2 pharmacy residents. Doing so could disrupt patient care and make residents ineligible for board certification and professional positions that require postgraduate pharmacy residency training. ASHP encourages accredited programs to adjust learning experiences in ways that give residents sufficient opportunities to complete their program.
We are here to assist you, and I encourage residency programs to reach out to Janet Silvester, vice president of Accreditation Services, or Stephen Ford, director of Residency Accreditation Services, for help. Please also read our guidance on the pandemic's impact on residency training. We know how difficult things are right now, and ASHP wants to help you and your residents in any way we can.
Real-Time COVID-19 Information and Resources
ASHP continues to develop and disseminate important clinical guidance, real-time information, and lessons learned among pharmacists to help those working in current hot spots and to prepare others for potential patient surges.
Last week, we launched a weekly webinar series to provide information and guidance from your peers on the front lines, including live webinars offered by ASHP Consulting. Today’s live webinar from ASHP Consulting describes how health systems in Detroit and Southeastern Michigan — Beaumont Health, Ascension Michigan, and Henry Ford Health System — are managing supply chain and pharmacy operations during the pandemic. Please look for new webinars each week for an inside look at how pharmacists across the country are responding to the challenging circumstances surrounding this health crisis. Recorded versions of all webinars in ASHP’s COVID-19 webinar series are also available for those who can’t attend the live session.
Our popular daily @ASHPOfficial podcast continues to provide credible information on topics related to COVID-19. We have produced 25 episodes to date, with nearly 13,000 downloads of @ASHPOfficial in the past 30 days. We attribute this remarkable number to members and nonmembers taking a strong interest hearing about first-hand experiences from the front lines. We have listeners in every state in the country, indicating that ASHP members featured in the podcasts are reaching a broad healthcare community. I encourage you to subscribe to @ASHPOfficial to receive this free, timely content packed with valuable information, personal experiences, and lessons learned from your colleagues with direct knowledge of COVID-19.
Our newly enhanced COVID-19 Resource Center is updated often with new and revised tools to assist all healthcare professionals in responding to patient needs across the continuum of care. ASHP’s Assessment of Evidence for COVID-19 Treatments, which has been downloaded more than 16,000 times, is updated at least twice weekly and provides clinical guidance to help frontline practitioners better understand current therapeutic approaches and recommended care for patients with COVID19. I encourage you to visit the Resource Center regularly to ensure you are using ASHP’s most up-to-date tools.
As medication experts, pharmacists are frontline patient care providers and trusted sources of information for patients. One of our most important roles is educating patients about their disease states and how to optimize their medications. This week, we added a special section to SafeMedication.com, ASHP’s consumer-focused website, with information about COVID-19 for patients and their families. The special section features consumer content in key areas, including how to treat mild cases of COVID-19 at home, an explanation of potential treatments for COVID-19, information about cloth face covers, and more. We will continue to enrich the site with pharmacist-written content to provide patients with a timely, accurate, and trustworthy source of information.
ASHP Survey and Advocacy
ASHP continues to survey our members about the latest developments related to essential pharmacy resources, such as personal protective equipment (PPE). Our latest survey also addresses the inventory status of intensive care unit (ICU) drugs needed to treat mechanically ventilated COVID-19 patients. We found that the ICU drugs with the most critical shortages include cisatracurium, fentanyl, ketamine, vecuronium, and midazolam. The full details of the survey results are available on the COVID-19 Resource Center.
ASHP continues to respond to member feedback by advocating for the increased production and availability of PPE and for solutions to drug shortages resulting from this public health emergency. We were encouraged by this week’s announcement from the Food and Drug Administration about new flexibilities for 503A pharmacies — including those in hospitals and health systems — and recent guidance for 503B outsourcing facilities to support increasing the supply of critical medications. ASHP will work closely with the agency to seek additional flexibilities as needed.
New Products to Meet Your Needs
In closing, while we continue to do everything we can to support you during the COVID-19 response, we remain committed to supporting you throughout all facets of your career. In that spirit, this week, ASHP launched a new Pharmacy Revenue Cycle Management Certificate, our newest self-guided, online certificate program designed to increase knowledge and skills in calculating reimbursement, documentation and billing, Medicare rules and regulations, and more. We know that tools like these are critical as many hospitals and health systems also face severe financial difficulties during this public health emergency. We will continue to develop products and services that will help our members gain important knowledge and meet continuing education needs.
As always, I extend my sincere thanks to you for being a member of ASHP and for everything that you are doing for your patients and our profession.