Pharmacy times interviewed Andrea Iannucci, PharmD, BCOP, Member of the Board of Directors of the Hematology/Oncology Pharmacy Association (HOPA); assistant chief pharmacist of oncology and investigational drugs and PGY2 Oncology Pharmacy Residency Program director at UC Davis Health; clinical professor at the UC Davis School of Medicine in the Division of Hematology/Oncology and at the UCSF School of Pharmacy; and a board liaison for HOPA’s practice management committee, which addresses issues related to the management of hematology/oncology pharmacy practices. Iannucci addresses issues related to how HOPA works within and affects the practice of hematology/oncology pharmacy practices and the role of the practice management committee in the field.
Alana Hippensteele: Hi, I’m Alana Hippensteele with Pharmacy times. With me is Andrea Iannucci, PharmD, BCOP, member of the board of directors of the Hematology/Oncology Pharmacy Association, or HOPA; the Assistant Chief Pharmacist of Oncology and Research Drugs and the PGY2 Oncology Pharmacy Residency Program Director at UC Davis Health; and a clinical professor at the UC Davis School of Medicine in the Division of Hematology/Oncology and at the UCSF School of Pharmacy. Andrea is a board liaison for HOPA’s practice management committee, which addresses issues related to the management of the hematology/oncology pharmacy practice.
So Andrea, how does HOPA work within and affect the space of management of hematology/oncology pharmacy practices?
Andrea Iannucci: So HOPA is really a great resource for oncology pharmacists in general. HOPA’s membership is packed with oncology pharmacists and practice leaders who have decades of experience in various aspects of oncology and patient care.
This is a group of pharmacists who are ready, willing and able to share their wisdom, their knowledge and their expertise with other pharmacists to help support the ongoing evolution of oncology pharmacy practice. Practice management meetings specifically focus on aspects of patient care and management of oncology practice, which is quite unique as we are dealing with a patient population that is quite vulnerable, but also a population that is dealing with high risk, high stakes treatments which are often very, very expensive and really offer many unique aspects and needs in practice management.
Alana Hippensteele: Right. HOPA hosts an annual practice management meeting, which will again take place in person in Washington, DC, this September. Can you tell me a bit more about this meeting and some key areas that HOPA wants to address?
Andrea Iannucci: So I think this meeting this year will be very exciting from many perspectives. First, it will be the first time the practice’s management meeting has been in person since the start of the pandemic, so that’s a really great opportunity for people to re-meet in person with some of their peers and colleagues they’ve had over the years. maybe not seen much.
The theme of this year’s conference is perseverance, and I think that really aligns with what many of us feel about healthcare in general. We are now pseudo-postpandemic, or at least in a transition phase, from the peak aspects of the impact of the pandemic. It’s really a great opportunity and time for people to think about the changes that have happened in recent years and how we are moving forward in this very dynamic environment of healthcare, and oncology care in particular, and leveraging the resources of other pharmacists working in this particular field of oncology practice.
Alana Hippensteele: How can professionals in the field work to develop a practice of perseverance in their daily practice?
Andrea Iannucci: I think that’s a very good question. I mean, I think what people really need are some concrete tools to help them learn how to manage change in an agile and graceful way. But also how to maintain some resilience, how to incorporate self-care in a meaningful way to avoid burnout, as well as keep practicing in an environment that is both rewarding and intellectually satisfying, and also meaningful to peers, patients, and other healthcare providers.
Alana Hippensteele: One of the themes of this meeting is recognizing personal and professional challenges. What are some common personal and professional challenges faced by hematology/oncology pharmacists during the COVID-19 pandemic?
Andrea Iannucci: So I think in general health professionals didn’t really know what to expect going into this pandemic and how it might affect them. I think there was a balance between worrying about your own personal safety, worrying about the safety of your patients, and worrying about the safety of your family as you enter and exit the healthcare facility and go home.
I think some of the main things we’ve dealt with have been staffing challenges, like how to maintain enough staff to support our patient care needs, while coping with staff getting sick and having to be home. So there were several challenges in balancing both ensuring we had enough people on site to care for the patients who were here and maintaining the health and well-being of our staff and family members throughout the period. of the pandemic.
Alana Hippensteele: Absolute. When challenges arise, how can pharmacists counter the large migration of hematology/oncology pharmacists from the field?
Andrea Iannucci: So I feel like the best way for us to tackle this problem is to fully understand why it’s happening. I think there is a lot of data to suggest that pharmacists, and oncology pharmacists in particular, experience a high rate of burnout. I think we need to verify that the level of burnout is contributing to this migration of pharmacists and their career positions. But I think we need to explore other reasons for that migration as well. There may be some generational differences as younger practitioners enter the field, things we may not even fully understand. So I think the key really is to try and understand what the true cause of this is and then try to address how to fix that cause.
Alana Hippensteele: Absolute. Another theme of the meeting is how change affects your daily practice. Why is this an important topic right now and what are your thoughts on how best to prepare for change in practice management?
Andrea Iannucci: Well, I think we’ve all been given a lot of experience and agility, and the ability to adapt to changing needs over the course of the healthcare pandemic. I think oncology in general is also a very dynamic field and there are still therapies being approved that are newer and better than existing therapies.
So oncology is a very dynamic field, but not only that, but in healthcare in general, the landscape continues to evolve in terms of what payers will pay for patient care, where to administer medication, there are all kinds of care issues to the administration and treatment of different diseases to patients, and I think that oncology pharmacists in particular need to be really agile and willing to adapt to the changing landscape of healthcare in this area to continue supporting their patients.