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Dr Andre Harvin: Pharmacists Play a Critical Role in Oncology Care

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Andre Harvin, PharmD, MS, MBA, Cone Health Cancer Center, discusses the vital role of pharmacists in oncology: how they use data to streamline patient visits, work to facilitate patient access to biosimilars, and advocate for their patients.

On day 2 of the Association of Community Cancer Centers’ 49th Annual Meeting and Cancer Center Business Summit, Andre Harvin, PharmD, MS, MBA, executive director of pharmacy, Oncology Services, Cone Health Cancer Center, will deliver the keynote address, “Robots, Biologics, and Advocates: Lessons from the Pharmacy.”

In this interview with The American Journal of Managed Care®, he discusses the vital role of pharmacists in oncology: how they use data to streamline patient visits, work to facilitate patient access to biosimilars, and advocate for their patients.

Transcript

What can pharmacy’s use of robots, biologics, and advocates teach us about streamlining and improving the patient experience?

My keynote address is really about bringing pharmacy to the light. I think most people understand that we’re a really strong support service. What I’m going to do is really say that we play such a critical role that sometimes goes unappreciated. One of my mentors told me a long time ago, he said, “Pharmacy is kind of like the spine of the hospital system: You don’t really think about your spine, but so much is dependent on it, right? Your nerves flow through your spine, your muscles attach to it, but for the most part, if everything’s going well, you never think about your spine. You only think about it when something goes wrong, and then by that point in time, something may be amiss.”

My goal is to really say, “Let’s start to take care of our backs. Let’s make sure we get some stretches in the morning, some downward dogs, some cat-cows, those kind of things, really every day to have that appreciation of what pharmacy brings to the table.” What I’m going to do is I’m going to highlight 3 areas, and only 3 select areas, that we’ve utilized to impact our oncology cancer center and the patients that we serve.

When we think about biologics, we’re going to talk about biosimilars. We’re going to talk about not only the finances around that but the patient access that we’ve been able to create and amplify because of that.

With our robots, not everyone’s going to have a robot, but it’s about how we leverage data and how we leverage our operations to help move our patients through their visits faster, allowing us to treat more patients and allowing us to respect patients, so that when we say, “Hey, you have an appointment that’s an hour long,” they can expect to be there for an hour and not 2 hours at that point in time.

And then finally, that advocacy piece is that pharmacists can be a strong advocate for the patients, whether that’s helping them ensure they can pay for their medication or provide critical education that is unique to a pharmacist.

All of these 3 together are 3 small things pharmacists do on a day-in/day-out basis that I have the privilege to really talk to everyone about today and make sure that they understand the impact that pharmacy has as well.

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