MMS just sponsored a very unique invitational meeting for our clients, students,national and international speakers, and staff. This meeting was held in northern Minnesota at an educational retreat (Deep Portage Learning Center), where attendees were able focus on medication management services without interruption for two days. This year the theme was Bringing Pharmaceutical Care to Market: Expanding the Service.
Continue reading for a summary of the meeting (or download a .pdf of Dr. Strand's reflection) – but also be sure to talk with someone who attended to appreciate the significance of this experience. We hope to see you there next year!
Dr. Linda Strand Offers Reflections on the Deep Portage Retreat
It seems the impossible occurred February 23-25, 2012 in the woods of Northern Minnesota.
Seventy-six seemingly intelligent human beings convened for “the most unusual meeting of a lifetime”. Fifteen of these people started their day before sunrise, jumped on an airplane to arrive in Minneapolis, took a taxi to MMS headquarters only to jump on a bus and ride for 4 more hours to arrive at a Retreat nestled in 6000 square miles of woodland and snowy trails, at approximately 9pm central time. The remaining fifty one also had a deadline to meet…just don’t miss the bus! And nobody did.
These seventy six people participated in the Annual Deep Portage Retreat in Hackensack, Minnesota. In its eleventh year, this is the first year it has been sponsored by Medication Management Systems, Inc. Previously, the Peters Institute of Pharmaceutical Care at the College of Pharmacy, University of Minnesota sponsored the event. Traditionally focused on student participation, this year things changed a bit. The student involvement was again significant (33 of the 76 participants were pharmacy students, residents or graduate students), and in addition, 33 were current clients of MMS with the remainder consisting of MMS staff and international speakers. Therefore, at this retreat, we had representation from: pharmacy students, health plans, integrated health systems, private practice, clinic based practice, national pharmacy associations, physicians, pharmacy technicians, medication management pharmacist generalists and specialists, along with the wildlife population viewing it all from outside.
Sixty eight people shared their experiences through poetry, theatre, small group discussions, large group discussions, informal “chats” with presenters, and a “game show” format. Learning occurred in every way, at every moment, since every waking minute involved either programmed learning or what some came to describe as “un-programmed” learning. Conversations never stopped – and in some cases we mean literally – they never stopped!! There were conversations over meals, in front of the fireplaces, on the ski trails, conversations on the bus, conversations around the bonfire while making s’mores, conversations in the shared rustic rooms late into the night, in the hallways, and to and from presentations. People shared, absorbed, questioned, changed, taught and learned.
Bringing Pharmaceutical Care to Market: Expanding the Service was the 2012 theme. Thus, all those conversations were focused on caring for more patients, in a more effective manner, with increased financial benefit. Dr. Terry McInnis, a physician and private consultant from North Carolina, kicked off the meeting by challenging the participants to rise to meet medicine’s expectations for a uniform, standards-driven practice with common vocabulary, a consistent patient care process and systematic documentation. Janice Feinberg, a pharmacist and attorney, spoke to what it takes to deliver this service as a private consultant who wants to exclusively care for patients. Dr. Djenane Oliveira, a Researcher and Medication Management Specialist at Fairview Pharmacy Services, worked with her colleagues from the Fairview Integrated Health System to demonstrate how physicians and other practitioners respond when medication management services are added to the medical home care team. Dr. Oliveira underscored the importance of medication management pharmacists working collaboratively not only with physicians but also with nurses, diabetes educators, care coordinators and other providers. Also, she called our attention to the fact that the health care system in the USA is moving in the direction of Accountable Care Organizations and is focusing on the health of populations. In this new environment, medication management pharmacists need to be utilized appropriately so that they will add the most value to the care of patients. Dr. Oliveira was followed by Dr. Ed Webb, the Associate Executive Director of Government and Professional Affairs at the American College of Clinical Pharmacy, who spoke to the changes and opportunities (lost and taken) with health care reform and medication management services specifically. And, finally, Dr. Victoria Losinski, Professional Services Manager for Medication Therapy Management at the Target Corporation, related a perspective on how to make these services work in a retail setting.
Besides these main keynote presentations, short presentations were delivered around the most creative and interesting topics. For instance, Grace Gana gave a passionate testimony of the impact of her work on the lives of patients. She unveiled a new meaning for the term “underserved patient” as she posited that any patient who is taking medication and does not receive medication management services should be seen as ‘underserved”. What a brilliant proposition!
Gladys Duenas showed the results of focus groups conducted with patients that pointed to unique strategies to market medication management services. Nicole Paterson and her colleagues did a theatrical presentation of how they are delivering medication management services through shared medical visits or group visits offered to patients with different medication conditions such as asthma, diabetes and smoking cessation. Carla Cobb talked about her practice delivering medication management services to people with mental Illnesses, providing a powerful illustration of the kind of impact these services can have in different types of populations. These are just a few examples of the great program we experienced while in Deep Portage. What a stimulating, challenging and rewarding program!
In-between these enlightening presentations, there was cross country skiing, hiking, wall-climbing, animal tracking, and private walks in the woods. Conversation continued through it all. Students talked with practitioners, practitioners talked with managers, members talked with organization executives, pharmacists talked with physicians, and everyone shared what they knew of medication management services. The meeting was a phenomenal success, as evidenced by the level of participation offered by all in attendance and by the evaluations completed at the close of the meeting.
Pharmaceutical care practice and medication management services have come a great distance in the past 10 years, since the first Deep Portage Retreat. This became very clear at this meeting and was greatly celebrated throughout the weekend. We started with ideas and wishes to care for patients so we can have a real impact on their lives. This year we discussed the real world challenges of practitioners who are doing just that - building practices, recruiting patients and getting reimbursed. Practitioners from across the country and throughout the world shared experiences and the progress they have made. We have accomplished a lot during the last decade and we should be proud!
We know even more phenomenal changes will soon start to occur as a result of all of the teaching and learning that occurred at this meeting. We will report on these developments as the year progresses. Thank you to all who participated for making our conference a total hit!