Ruby Singh, vice president for Education and Training, Academy of Managed Care Pharmacy (AMCP), speaks with Mary Caffrey about the upcoming AMCP eLearning Days, a virtual meeting that will take place April 20 to 24. AMCP's annual meeting was canceled due to coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19). This transcript is edited slightly for clarity.
Ruby Singh, vice president for Education and Training with AMCP.
Mary Caffrey for CfB: Welcome, I'm here today with Ruby Singh, vice president for Education and Training with AMCP, who's going to talk to us about the upcoming AMCP virtual meeting and how it came to be.
Singh: Oh, thank you so much, Mary. It's a pleasure to meet you and be here today.
CfB: So, like many other scientific and industry meetings we've had this year, AMCP is going virtual in the time of COVID. Ruby, if you could tell us a little bit about the process that AMCP used to make this decision, and the process of creating the program that people can look forward to next week?
Singh: Sure. So, Mary, we actually look at these as 2 separate events, if that makes sense. We obviously canceled AMCP 2020, our annual meeting, and that was a decision obviously based on the current situation at hand. That decision was definitely a difficult one, but obviously warranted.
And what we came back with is, after we canceled the meeting, we want to have a lot of timely programming that we had planned. And, what do we do for our members during this time of adversity? We felt that we still have to offer education; we still need to support what they're doing in managed care. So, what can we do? We’ve decided to use a platform that we're very familiar with, our members are very familiar with, which is our webinar platform. And, we decided that we would take the educational content, at least 10 sessions that we planned, repurpose those because the eLearning Days are shorter programs than what we would normally have at our meeting, and, create [an] event out of that.
I don't think that we would be able to say that the eLearning Days would be a substitute for a live national meeting. You know that there's a lot of networking and business meetings and things that are occurring that we just wouldn't be able to do on a virtual platform. So, we really just teased out that piece of the educational programming.
Then, there's so many rich posters and researchers who provided such great content, and we didn't want to lose that. So, we were able to pull through the poster program on a virtual platform. And we are proud to say that we have over 230 poster presentations that have now been uploaded onto our site. So, I think we tried to create an opportunity for our members to get some education this spring. But I would say it was very different than what we had planned to do for the annual meeting.
CfB: So, you probably have 2 groups of people who are going to engage with your content next week. You'll have people who are used to going to the annual meeting, and you may have new people who've never engaged. So, what can each of those 2 groups do to best engage with the virtual content?
Singh: I think that our members in general, and even nonmembers, are used to our webinar platform. I think regardless of whether you have attended a live national meeting or not, we do feel that the webinar platform is the same and it's a familiar same. So, I don't anticipate that that's going to change too much for our members in terms of engagement and how to interact with these eLearning Days that we have.
But I think for people who may not have ever come to a national meeting, I hope that they experience cutting-edge education, know that they're not alone and that there are a lot of people out there that are experiencing the same challenges in practice that they are…. I think that our website offers a great opportunity throughout the year, but certainly during these eLearning Days, to provide input.
We just launched our COVID-19 Resource Center, which I think is a fantastic way for people to keep up to date with what's happening out there today. I know it changes day to day, hour to hour. And, we do have some open-ended surveys [in which] we're asking for feedback and what's happening so that we can respond to that in the best way possible.
CfB: I had a chance to go through some of the presentations to develop my own plan for coverage. And I noticed that you have one presentation Monday that offers insights as to how the COVID-19 pandemic is going to affect the industry. Can you give us maybe a preview of what we can expect from that presentation?
Singh: Sure. I'm really excited about this particular session. It's the session that kicks off the whole eLearning Days event—the 2020 marketplace or pharmaceutical marketplace trends. And it features our speaker Doug Long [vice president for Industry Relations, IQVIA]. Doug and I had the chance to speak a couple of weeks ago, and we talked a lot about how COVID-19 has impacted marketplace trends. He has some preliminary data that he wanted to share [that] I think will be really interesting to see.… I don't have the exact information that he'll be presenting just yet, because he's waiting to get the latest. But I think things that you can expect to see would be: How has telehealth impacted our current claims? How are people being treated? I think [telehealth] has had a huge impact on managed care resources and tools.… And I think you're also going to see huge prescribing changes that have occurred because of legislative changes. So, I think those are the things that he's going to be highlighting in his presentation.
CfB: I'm looking forward to that one in particular. Digital therapeutics has a big presence at this meeting. Can you talk about the emerging interest in this product class?
Singh: Absolutely. So, digital therapeutics has been an area of interest for AMCP, and I think managed care professionals for quite some time. We were fortunate at AMCP to hold a stakeholder forum in September of 2019, [which] provided us with a lot of insight as to what the need is for education, in particular on digital therapeutics from the managed care perspective. We were able to offer some programming at AMCP Nexus 2019, and recognized that there our members really wanted more. So, we had planned an entire track at the annual meeting on digital therapeutics and weren't able to do that, obviously. So we selected 2 sessions from the programming that we are able to offer during the week, and I think that it will really start to help our members understand this therapeutic class better—and how they, as managed care professionals, will be able to understand how to better use the evidence for these [products] and how to make formulary decisions.
CfB: Well, even without a pandemic, healthcare policy would be a hot topic because we're in an election year. So, what are some highlights we can look forward to from the health policy offerings at the virtual experience?
Singh: I think that for the health policy [session], the original intent was to be looking [forward to] an election year, much to what you just said, and what can we look forward to in terms of the sort of proposed legislation or policy changes in healthcare and how that would impact managed care pharmacy.... And I expect that's probably going to be similar to the session that we'll have next Friday [April 24]. But I do think that there will also be discussion about drug pricing, reform, and things that are really going to be essential for managed care pharmacy moving forward.… I wouldn't be surprised if there was, if [speaker] John O'Brien [PharmD, MPH, former advisor to HHS Secretary Alex Azar] did speak to some of the things going on in today's world with COVID-19 as well.
CfB: Are there any other sessions that you want to highlight?
Singh: I'm very excited about the week as a whole, We are really looking forward to the sessions that you've already mentioned. But then we have sessions on oncology and a session on cannabis. There's one on digital engagement that I think, given the world that we're in today, it’s so important for us to know how to engage digitally. I think that's going to be a really important session....
I also think the virtual poster program is going to be fantastic. We’re getting a lot of positive feedback on that. And then we have the 4 satellite [sessions] that will be available Monday through Thursday from 5 to 7 pm, and those are for both our members and nonmembers. So, there are great educational opportunities, even outside of our webinar program.
CfB: Terrific. Well, Ruby, thank you so much for joining us.
To participate in the AMCP eLearning Days, visit amcp.org/elearningdays for registration and information on individual sessions. Archived content will be available in mid-May.