Keynote speaker at Opening General Session applies disruptive innovation theory to health care.

A noted innovation expert called pharmacists “a great solution” at the 2011 APhA Annual Meeting & Exposition yesterday.

What used to be acute diseases ending in death are now chronic diseases that physician’s offices aren’t equipped to address, and that’s where pharmacists can step in, Clayton M. Christensen, MBA, DBA, said in his keynote address at the Opening General Session at the Washington State Convention Center in Seattle.

“There is so much opportunity for pharmacists to take over care of chronic disease,” said Christensen, the Robert and Jane Cizik Professor of Business Administration at Harvard Business School and the author of The Innovator’s Prescription, which applies his theory of disruptive innovation to health care. “I see a great solution in the capability that you guys represent.” He added, “We need business models for you to take on more responsibility to disrupt the system.”

As an audience of a few thousand listened in an auditorium, Christensen explained how in various industries, there is at first a trajectory of improvements to a product, but then disruptive innovation makes the product more affordable and simple. That disruption has not yet occurred in health care, he said. Technology enables disruption, and allows lower-cost health care providers to do progressively more sophisticated things.

Christensen was introduced by Thomas E. Menighan, BPharm, MBA, FAPhA, ScD, APhA Executive Vice President and CEO, who said The Innovator’s Prescription had had “a profound impact on my thinking about pharmacy.” According to Menighan’s editorial in the April 2011 issue of Pharmacy Today, disruptive innovation is the way that pharmacists need to think about medication therapy management (MTM).

Also during the Opening General Session, APhA President Harold N. Godwin, BPharm, MS, FAPhA, gave a speech on the state of the profession, eight APhA award winners were recognized, and 12 APhA fellows were inducted. The Opening General Session was hosted by Mark Walberg of “Antiques Roadshow” fame and was punctuated by musical entertainment by Freddy Pink, a Seattle band that began 30 years ago.

Godwin, a Professor of Pharmacy Practice and Associate Dean for Clinical and Medical Center Affairs at the University of Kansas School of Pharmacy, began his speech by asking the audience to remember the unfolding tragedy in Japan and declaring that pharmacists stand ready to assist. An APhA member since his student days, he called himself “a pharmacy organization junkie” and said, “I love our profession.”

Godwin highlighted different areas of APhA’s work, including the Association’s collaboration with other pharmacy organizations in the health care reform environment. “The issues that we face today are bigger than any one organization,” he said. “Collaboration is key. Collaboration is what we’ve been doing.”

The destiny of the profession of pharmacy, Godwin said, is to capitalize on its vision of pharmacist-provided MTM for all patients; to make MTM the standard of practice. He asked rhetorically how to ensure that destiny. The answer was to be active. “It’s up to you to continue to be active, take control, and champion our own cause,” he said. “Together we will create a stronger tomorrow.” The theme of APhA2011 is “Setting the Vision for a Stronger Tomorrow!”

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