ASHP moves into the next phase of its 2015 Initiative

Process becomes more complex as member comments are incorporated

The future of pharmacy practice has become a focus for one pharmacy group, and the reaction from members has been favorable and enthusiastic.

The American Society of Health-System Pharmacists (ASHP) in Bethesda, MD, launched its 2015 Initiative earlier this year. The initiative is composed of goals and objectives for pharmacy practice in health systems that are to be achieved by 2015.

The beginning of the project dates back to June 2001, when the ASHP House of Delegates approved a Vision Statement for Pharmacy Practice in Hospitals and Health Systems.

"The important thing about that vision statement is that is was about what practice ought to be like," says Charles E. Myers, MS, MBA, group vice president for professional development and member services.

Then attention was drawn to a project of the Department of Health and Human Services’ Office of Disease Prevention and Health Promotion (ODPHP). "Healthy People 2010" is a statement of national health objectives designed to identify the most significant preventable threats to health and to establish national goals to reduce these threats. In the development of these objectives, ODPHP decided:

  • There are overarching goals.
  • There are specific objectives related to those goals.
  • There are measurable targets for each objective.

At first, ASHP hadn’t thought about creating something such as a 2010 Healthy People (HP) initiative, Myers says. Then as an afterthought, the society decided to give it a try. "We believed we could identify some key goals and objectives that if achieved, would make a substantial difference in terms of patient care in this country."

In a statement about the 2015 Initiative, ASHP says it believes that some well-chosen goals and objectives and demonstrable progress in achieving them over time would speak powerfully about health system pharmacy practitioners’ commitment to high-quality patient care and their collective, national resolve to improve medication use throughout health systems.

The first stage of the initiative involved developing draft goals and objectives. Using the HP process as a model, the ASHP board of directors, with input from state society leaders, drafted possible goals and objectives. During this process, the board of directors and members tried to ensure that:

  • Each objective has a plausibly high relationship to practice advancement and achieving the ASHP vision for practice.
  • Each objective can be evaluated using quantifiable data.
  • There is confidence that progress related to each objective can be measured.
  • The number of goals and objectives are manageable.
  • Members should feel that, if they work to achieve the goals and objectives, the level of health system pharmacy practice would be advanced.

The goals and objectives dealt with the four main themes in the vision statement: making medication use effective, making it safe, making it scientific, and contributing meaningfully to public health. The draft was published May 2, and members were asked to submit comments and suggestions on it by July 15.

ASHP received numerous responses to the draft goals and objectives, Myers says. Everyone seems pleased about the initiative, he adds, and many members have submitted suggestions about the language or the order of the objectives.

Specifically, some members have appreciated goals and objectives that include attention to non-hospital practice. For example, Goal 2 refers to the aid that pharmacists can give nonhospitalized patients to help them achieve the best use of medicines.

ASHP also had suggestions that Goal 3, which aims to increase the extent to which health system pharmacists actively apply evidence-based methods to the improvement of drug therapy, and some of its objectives should be expanded.

Some members said they didn’t know how to react to a goal or objective because they didn’t know how a term was being defined. ASHP had considered this, Myers says, but thought that the initial draft would be too long if the terms were defined.

Defining the terms will come about in the surveying stage, in which ASHP will construct survey language for ongoing monitoring of the eventual goals and objectives. At this stage, ASHP will have to be meticulous about its definitions, Myers says. Every objective may require multiple questions to get to the heart of what needs to be assessed.

ASHP also says that some of the monitoring will be incorporated into ongoing ASHP surveys. In addition, baseline numbers for most of the objectives will have to be developed.

Member comments have reinforced the idea that people will want the project to be much more specific. "We recognize there are many details," Myers says. We’ll have to be way more complex than the simple goals and objectives themselves."

ASHP expects much of the detail to be found in progress reports about the initiative. This has been the case in the HP 2010 project, he says. "If you look at the progress reports, it comes down to not just a simple comment of yes or no. It has a lot of details."

Myers now is in the process of factoring the member comments into the next draft. He expects it will be completed sometime this fall. The new draft will be posted on AHSP’s web site.