By Greg Boll, RPh, Director of Network Operations
The NASP 2020 Annual Meeting and Expo was held on September 14th-18th in a virtual format and offered its usual variety of educational sessions, keynote speakers and panels.
To start the week, NASP offered several workshops which covered topics such as CSP exam preparation, home infusion, technology, law, and hospital/health systems. During the conference, one keynote speaker, Jim Kelly, spoke to the audience about his battle with cancer three times throughout his life, and how it was important for specialty pharmacy to be a “difference maker” by removing burdens to patients that are going through that type of health struggle.
The educational sessions included a State of Care series which provided recent changes to patient care including new medications, indications and treatment guidelines. The therapies discussed included: Cell and Gene Therapy – with cell therapy, whole cells are transplanted or infused into a patient whereas gene therapy uses DNA to manipulate a patient’s cell; Auto Immune Disorders – new guidelines for Ulcerative Colitis and how prednisone use in rheumatic patients ties to COVID-19 hospitalization; along with sessions devoted to Immune Globulin and Oral Oncology.
Some favorite sessions centered around payer topics, such as copay accumulators, how to respond to PBM audits, roles of regulators in payer contracting, as well as a timely discussion on 340B drug pricing updates and the impact of Medicare on specialty pharmacy. Excelera also participated in another timely topic, a panel about “Lessons Learned from COVID-19: The New Normal for Specialty Pharmacies”. Given the large role technology plays in specialty pharmacy, several sessions spoke to maximizing automation and utilizing innovative technology. There was also a discussion around using technology for communicating to patients in specialty where they discussed key items when selecting a vendor such as regulatory compliance, customization and ease of use as well as keys to success of implementation of that new technology. With COVID-19 the need for new ways to communicate with patients was highlighted and there was also a discussion of how COVID-19 played a role in shaping how we work to take care of patients throughout the pandemic and what that might look like when it is over. Another session focused on the need for data standardization highlighted the multitude of stakeholders required to use and share data within specialty pharmacy.
Just like the in-person conference, there were different sessions going on throughout the day. There was an opportunity to join a virtual networking event and a virtual exhibit hall. NASP also held sessions giving awards, hosting poster presentations and offerings CE symposiums to increase knowledge on specific topics. Although delivered through an alternate format, the NASP 2020 Annual Meeting and Expo Virtual experience was an excellent venue and offered a view into what is important to those of us that work in the world of specialty!