Saving Lives: The Role of The Pharmacist in HIV

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Today we have Dr Blair Thielemier, PharmD.

“BE THE CHANGE”

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What you will learn

  • The profession of pharmacy is changing
  • How pharmacists can get off the assembly line and become healthcare providers
  • Career Climate Change
  • How to switch career gears
  • Lear about Elevate Pharmacy Summit
  • Learn about Pharmapreneur Academy

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Transcription

Michelle:
And today we have an amazing show today. We have an amazing guest, Dr. Blair, Thea TLO Meyer. She has shaken pharmacy up. And our topic today is Korea climate change. A conversation with Dr. Blair Thiel a Meyer, welcome to the show. Blair, thank you so much for having me. Oh, it’s my pleasure. There’s so many seismic shifts going on in, in, in pharmacy and I’m, I’m so happy to have you on the show because you’ve done extraordinary work on how pharmacy can change. And I hope you share some of your insights with our guests today. So let’s just start off right at the beginning and tell our listeners, I’m sure so many people out there are familiar with your work, but what is your current field of practice and how did you get to the work that you’re doing today?

Blair:
I lost my job. So you know, as you mentioned, we’re talking about career climate change today and it happened to me, it was back in 2014 I was working as a clinical hospital pharmacist at a very small rural hospital and like everyone else in the healthcare industry right now, they were being squeezed by declining reimbursements and you know, all of the reform stuff that’s happening in healthcare. And there was only two full time pharmacist and it was, you know, it was a tough decision, but they had to cut me down to PRN. Unfortunately at the time I was six months pregnant with my daughter and that really led me to a moment where I was like, what? What am I doing? You know, what, what am, what is my career going to look like? It really woke me up from this idea that I was going to have a 30 year career at this hospital and then retire.

Blair:
And you know, it, it was a good thing, you know, it was a bad because it was a good thing because I may not have ever taken that step for myself into entrepreneurship and into pursuing these opportunities in clinical services that I did. So what, what happened was after I lost my job there, I just kind of w went the opposite direction. I thought, I’m never just going to have one stream of income. I, you know, I want to build multiple strings, streams of income, I want to focus on building my own business. So I have control over my time and my career and I have more flexibility in my life. And what that eventually led to was doing MTM consulting for multiple independent pharmacies in my area. And that’s when I dug deep in to MTM and started looking into all the opportunities that pharmacists have now to impact patient care.

Michelle:
That’s, that’s amazing. And you know, sometimes it takes a very negative situation. Like you mentioned, like losing your job to shake one to the core and then you suddenly have this epiphany and you wri, you know, to, to be able to chart your own course and set your own rules for your job where no one else has control of that. And, you know, it creates like, you know, being an entrepreneur, it creates, it’s, while it’s very difficult and it has its challenges, it’s certainly, you know, has, has its rewards. So tell us a little bit about, you know, some of the programs and these, the former coroner Academy and let our listeners know what that is and you know, we also had last week’s New York times article about CVS and I mean, they use CVS, but that could be transposed with any, a mega behemoth corporations. What, what I know the pharmacists out there listening to this podcast that are like, are desperate. They, they work in sweatshops, so to speak, and they don’t know what to do. What, tell us about your programs and how pharmacists can move forward with their career.

Blair:
Yeah, sure. As you just said you know, entrepreneurship is difficult and there is a very steep learning curve to go from, you know, a classically educated, classically trained, licensed healthcare professional to an entrepreneur. I think in our minds we’ve always separated entrepreneurship and business from healthcare. And what I’m seeing and, and what I’m working with it with our members in the farmer preneur Academy is not only helping them learn the things like how to do an elevator pitch, like you know, how to host a free consultation call with a patient, how to get them to buy into your services, but also bigger picture things like say, you know, you’re, you’re working in an HIV clinic with a local pharmacy. Say you want to start reaching out to primary care offices in the orange County area. So what, what does it look like to help those clinics meet their quality metrics around HIV and patient care?

Blair:
What, what is that program that you’re creating and building that’s actually going to impact quality and patient care? So it’s not all about the, the pitch and the reach out. It’s really about aligning your services with what your clients need and what’s going to make the most sense for the patient. So you know, instead of putting together a, a very hardcore pitch, something that you want to do. Instead I teach pharmacists to kind of shift that mindset in looking at the patient, looking at the, maybe it’s a physician owned clinic or a health system owned clinic, what are the, the things that are going to move the needle for them? What are their pain points? What are the things that they care about and how do you really, it’s about talking about your value. I think that’s something that pharmacists haven’t traditionally been that great at.

Blair:
So we need to do a better job in being able to articulate our value. And one thing I think is so important with this New York times article coming out is it’s shining a spotlight on the pharmacy profession because to me the main take home point from that article was pharmacists are concerned about patient care and patient health in these chain drugstores. And now that we have this national spotlight on us, it’s about taking this opportunity to articulate our our value and to change the pharmacy model so that the perception of pharmacists isn’t that we count your 30 pills and hand it to you in a bottle and say see again next month it’s that we are partners in the care of the patient. We are going to be very involved continuously throughout this patient’s, we call it chronic care management is one of the, the opportunities that we talk about in the farmer preneur Academy and what I think we need to be doing with this New York times article is we need to figure out where we stand and what our messaging needs to be because this is a great opportunity to change the perception of what pharmacists do.

Michelle:
No, absolutely. And I think traditionally as pharmacists we’ve been so passive in, in, in what we do in, in, you know, all these other disciplines and lobbyists, they all screaming up and down the street and protesting in the street. And as pharmacists who are so reserved, we just do our work and take care of our patients the best way we can and never say anything. And I think you write this article brings everything to light and we should be screaming up and down the streets because we got to this point because people didn’t stand up and say anything.

Blair:
Absolutely. One of the things, one of the trainings that we’re actually going to be launching for free on this year’s elevate pharmacy summit.com is an interview I did with my publicity coach. You know, it’s a friend of mine and a mentor. And what she talked about was tips for reaching out to local, you know, news stations, tips for reaching out to you know, media markets and you know, opportunities for pharmacists to share their stories in a way that connects with patients and connects with audiences very quickly, which is on television or in print. You know, that might be in a local newspaper, it might be like a nationally published magazine or maybe write your own op ed for Forbes or time or you know, whatever. So what she talked about and giving tips for pharmacists I think is something that we’ve never actually been trained on before.

Blair:
Many pharmacists in a, going back to the beginning say entrepreneurship is difficult because we’ve never been trained on these skills in marketing, in speaking and selling in PR, you know, in online marketing. And that’s really what the elevate summit is. And that’s what the farmer preneur Academy is. It is to teach pharmacists how to be able to speak about their value, how to create these opportunities for themselves and how to leverage what you’re already doing. I’m, I’m not a proponent of, you know, you can’t be an a, a spokesperson for the profession of pharmacy unless you’re board certified in three different specialties and have done a residency. You know, I have done all this stuff. I think we’d get into our own heads a little bit about what it means to be an expert, when in reality, I don’t care if you have a pharm D or a bachelor’s in pharmacy, you are a pharmacist and we need to stick together and we need to stop, you know, saying, Oh, you have to, you have to have these credentials before you can speak about the value of pharmacy services. So that’s, that’s kind of my soapbox is teaching pharmacists to leverage the skills and experiences and your unique background in a way that can still add a ton of value for patients.

Michelle:
No abs. Absolutely. And you know, we, we so analytical that resu to get hung up. Like how many, how many credentials do you have? You have to be credentialed in this and credentialed in that. And you’re right, we don’t really like look at ourselves in the mirror and look at extraordinary just because we have a pharmacy degree has to mean something like outweighs us pharmacists. Like why did you become a pharmacist? Why did you become a pharmacist? For me it was always to be a healthcare provider. And not help help people. Why did you become a pharmacist? And if you get out of the muck of that daily, like may him that you do standing behind the counter, putting pills in bottles and reflect on, you know, just that diabetic customer that came into your pharmacy today and asked you a question and you were able to help them. Just think if you extrapolate that one interaction to all your patients, have that just one patient making that one impact or that one suggestion, whether it’s a change in the drug therapy or something OTC they could use, you have literally changed their life. And very oftentimes if we actually conscious and focus on what we’re doing, we can actually save their life.

Blair:
I absolutely love that. And completely agree. I think these, these small impacts, you know, we think that we need to have some kind of groundbreaking idea to be able to share the value that we can offer. So, so one of the even very simple story ideas that Amanda and I came up with during our elevate summit interview was I had had a very brief interaction with one of my best friends over text messaging a couple of weeks ago. And if it was something that was so simple to me, but something that I think exactly highlights our point because what had happened was she had started a new diet. It was, you know, first of the year and started a keto diet. And I just kind of said, you know, make sure if you’re on a keto or very restrictive diet that you’re taking a high quality vitamin supplement. And first off she was like, okay, I’d never, no one’s ever told me that before.

Blair:
I didn’t know that I was supposed to do that. And then she said, well, I can’t take vitamins so they’re too big and I have trouble swallowing them. And so I recommended a gummy vitamin and it was something so obvious and so simple to me, but something that she had never even considered. So just sharing like tiny stories like that in, in each interaction, in each opportunity that you have, share it, you know, on your Facebook page, share it on you know, the, your local news station, you can pitch a story about everyone’s on diets the first of the year. Make sure you’re on a high quality vitamin supplement. You know, what are the things you need to be thinking about when you’re on medications, a drug induced nutrient depletions, you know, exercise. Like all of these things that, that we almost take for granted that we don’t see how special we are and how special our training is.

Blair:
I think that that’s something that each of us individually can do better is to take that look in the mirror and say, you know what? I deserve to be here. I have a very unique skillset that really no one else in the healthcare industry has. They do not have this understanding of you know, organic and medicinal chemistry. They do not have this understanding of the cytochrome P four 50 system and pharmacokinetics and how all this stuff plays and works together. And you know, being able to, to not get in our own way and get in our own heads too much and just say, you know what, we can represent the profession in this way. I think we can unite the profession behind this message. And that’s why really this is so important to me is that there is so much value that we can be offering. We just need to get better at telling people outside of the pharmacy industry the value that we can offer. And that’s something that I’m really focusing on a lot this year is pharmacy becomes a bit of an echo chamber as we are, you know, very negative about what’s going on. But how, how do we break outside of just talking about the issues and the opportunities internally and how do we

Michelle:
Get that message out to a broader audience so that they understand exactly what, what pharmacy is and what we do. Oh, absolutely. And as pharmacists we have to, like you say, get better at that, like really losing our value. I mean we look at this catastrophic healthcare system that we have that’s so expensive. It’s so fragmented. It’s like you drop a marae and you’ve got like a thousand different pieces. The one thing, the one thing that glues that Murray together or puts that whole puzzle back together is us. It’s the pharmacist. People don’t realize that, you know, when people go to 20 different doctors and get prescriptions from every way, here’s the one person they can literally save their life. It’s us and we have done a terrible job about marketing that piece. Letting people know, letting our patients know why we are so important in that, in that puzzle, and we can really affect outcomes for our patients and make our patients healthier.

Michelle:
You know, I think a lot of times in the work that I do and when I do trainings and things like that, the thing is, you know a healthy patient is a wealthy patient. Not, I don’t care how much money’s in their bank, it’s got nothing to do with it. But if our patients are healthy, they can take care of their families. They can go to work, they can change the, the, the street, the town, the village, the, the whole economy. In the area. It’s so important. And we are the key in my opinion. And you know, healthcare reform

Blair:
Has brought its challenges for sure, but I think it’s also brought a ton of opportunity as you know, we’re trying to figure out how,

Michelle:
Okay,

Blair:
How to help our, our physician colleagues and our nurse colleagues and our health system colleagues too

Michelle:
Improve

Blair:
And patient outcomes. And they are not being given any more resources to do so. They’re just being asked to get better with the existing resources that they have. And I think the missing piece is having the pharmacist who, even though we’re, we don’t have provider status on under Medicare, there are still ways to collaborate with providers in order to bill for pharmacist services

Blair:
Not even bill for pharmacist services. Just have them focused on the most impactable patients. So, you know, we know all about risk stratification. So how about we use risk stratification of patients to create these continuous care plans for people that involve the pharmacist, the health system, and the primary care physician?

Michelle:
Oh, absolutely. And you know, the more pharmacists get involved, the better. You know, the, the doctors and nurses nurse practitioners can take care of their patients in the bed of the patient outcomes.

Blair:
Absolutely. And that’s exactly what, what we’re trying to do in the farmer preneur Academy we’re bringing together and now healthcare professionals from all different walks of life and pharmacists as well to figure out these innovative care models that we can use that not only impacts patient outcomes but also provides a good return on investment for the provider and for the payer as well. So we can’t leave out the insurance companies as well. I mean, that’s you know, that’s something that with healthcare reform, they’re really looking at these value based payment models and there’s an opportunity for pharmacists to step up and impact those.

Michelle:
Oh, absolutely. And I truly actually liked that value based model because, you know, as a healthcare system and as healthcare providers, we need to make sure our patients have the best opportunity to have a positive outcome. And you know, sometimes that doesn’t happen. So we can really effect change in, in our own communities by doing that. So what, tell, tell our listeners, you know, how they can move forward tell them about the former pronou Academy and exactly what it is and especially like also the elevate summit.

Blair:
Yeah. So the farmer preneur Academy is our a group membership coaching site. So that’s where you get access to all of this information that I’ve talked about today on chronic care billing you know, chronic care management, billing implementations, pharmacogenomic testing even all the way back to do I need an LLC or can I be a sole proprietor? What’s the difference between a w two employee and a 10 99 employee? You know, what are the business contracts you need in place? When you reach out to a physician’s clinic and they say, yes, we want to bring you on. Like these are all pieces of the puzzle and as we, you know, generate more and more information and more and more resources. A lot of it is peer led in the pharma printer Academy, so I don’t want to make it the, the Bleyer show.

Blair:
I am bringing in consultants all different walks of life from all different types of practice models. We’ve got healthcare system pharmacists, we’ve got a longterm care pharmacist, we’ve got specialty pharmacists, we’ve got nurse practitioners, functional medicine practitioners, all kinds of people coming in and adding, adding their value, adding their experiences, adding what they can to help build these innovative models. And then the elevate pharmacy summit is coming up. It’s April 8th through the 12th it’s a five day free online conference. So you go to elevate pharmacy, summit.com you get your free virtual ticket by entering your email address. Very simple. I’ll send some communications. I’m probably getting a little bit closer to that April date. And basically what it is is interviews with experts, industry experts and pharmacists in innovative care models. So like the session I mentioned with the publicity and media expert, Amanda Berlin, that’s going to be coming out on day one and all you need to do to get access to that is to go put in a good email address and then keep an eye on those emails from me.

Blair:
You’ll get the links and you know, the day that the sessions go live, you’ll go in, watch those. And then I think we’re going to be doing a free CE. I think we’re calling it a sunset summary. So this is the first time I’ve actually talked about that anywhere. So you guys are hearing it first on the conscious pharmacist podcast, but we will be doing a sunset summary for CE at the end of each day to kind of recap what we learned and to help pharmacists apply it in their business, to give them that next step that they can take to begin talking about their value. Even if you don’t own a business, I think the elevate summit is a, is a great place to just go and get exposed to lots of ideas that you’re not going to find anywhere else in the pharmacy industry.

Michelle:
Oh, fantastic. I’ll put the links also on, on the show notes. So the people listening can, can sign up. But to everybody out there, this is a great summit, great, great speakers, great information to help you on this journey to looking at where you need to change with, with what you’re doing. So you know, hopefully everybody listening can join us and listen to Blair and all her on this fantastic summit. Also look at you know, possibly joining the farmer preneur Academy and taking the first step to changing or shifting the paradigm in your, in your pharmacy career. So, so Blair, before we before we end off let us know, what’s the most rewarding experience that you’ve had in this journey so far in starting your own business and getting to this point where you are today?

Blair:
Oh, that’s a great question. So I think for, in regards to my career personally, you know, we’re talking about career climate change here today. It’s been rewarding for me to go from a clinical hospital position, which I was honestly not, you know, super fulfilled by super satisfied with to doing what I do now and the feeling I have in getting up every day and getting to share this message, getting to work on these ideas. It has been so rewarding for me and now I do have that purpose. I have that fulfillment and my message to pharmacists is hopefully to give them hope so that that is my, my core, my tagline is advancing the profession of pharmacy and I truly believe in that because whether your, you know, working as an employee or you own your own consulting business or you’re thinking of just maybe starting as a side project in consulting, I think it’s very important to start taking the steps to, if you’re unhappy in your current position or you’re afraid of losing your current position, begin building that safety net for yourself sooner rather than later. And there are so many opportunities out there. If you are, if you have this in your heart and you think that this might be the next step for you, I highly recommend you attend the elevate pharmacy summit.

Michelle:
Oh, that’s wonderful. Thank you. And to, to all the pharmacists out there who were thinking, gloom, thinking, do, thinking that this is the worst thing ever to happen to pharmacy. You’ve just heard some extraordinary insights from, from Blair. How you can shift the paradigm that you’re in. And with the shift in healthcare, we have an extraordinary opportunity not only to change the face of pharmacy and healthcare, but to change our own directions in what we do. So if you conscious and you, that’s why this is called the conscious pharmacist podcast of the role. If you conscious and actually think about yourself in your career, how you interact, how you change patient’s lives, you can make the leap, you can make the change and remember, it’s all up to us and be the change. And I want to thank Blair for taking time out of your busy day to be on the podcast today to share her insights with all of you. And until next time we’ll see you on the other side.

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