CSI Specialty Pharmacy Podcast

This week, Richard Williams, R.Ph., Senior Vice President of Pharmaceutical Innovation and Insights at CSI Specialty Group, joins host Andrew Maddigan, Vice President, Client Engagement, to discuss the most impactful upcoming meetings and conferences in 2020 and how pharmacy stakeholders can decide which events might be right for them to consider. 

Tune in to Discover:

  • The importance of attending meetings, sharing information and learning new ideas
  • Why HIMSS is one meeting that should be on your radar every year
  • A breakdown of the SPCMA Business Forum and what makes it the who’s who of pharmacy managed care
  • What makes Asembia a must-attend meeting for pharmacy leaders, providers, and manufacturers
  • Other key 2020 events to keep an eye on and how to decide which one(s) to attend


About Richard Williams, R.Ph.

Richard Williams is a second-generation pharmacist who has spent three decades in the pharmaceutical industry. Throughout his pharma career, he has sold, promoted and contracted for more than 40 products, including more than a dozen blockbuster drugs and many specialty molecules. His background includes experience in neuroscience, endocrine, including diabetes, oncology, and cardiovascular diseases.

In his role as Senior Vice President of Pharmaceutical Innovation and Insights, Richard provides executive leadership and strategic direction to CSI and their partners with an emphasis on business development and growth. 

Prior to joining CSI, Richard practiced retail and hospital pharmacy before joining Eli Lilly & Company. During his time at Lilly, he worked with physicians, integrated delivery systems, academic medical centers, long-term care providers, specialty pharmacies, regional and national health plans, and PBMs.

Richard earned his bachelor’s degree in pharmacy from the University of Mississippi in Oxford, MS. He has served on several boards, including Christian Leadership Concepts and Hope Smiles. He regularly volunteers with The Bridge, a Nashville based non-profit that helps the homeless, where he is currently working on intersecting street medicine with population health.

About Andrew Maddigan

During the past 30 years, Andrew Maddigan has directed business strategy and marketing functions in a variety of venues, including health care, education, aerospace, and energy. His previous roles have included VP of marketing for the nation’s largest not-for-profit hospice agency, VP of sales and marketing for a national specialty and long-term care pharmacy, and communications director at a large urban school district.

Andrew also led marketing and strategic communications efforts for an international health care accreditation agency, serving as the organization’s liaison to the United Nations Development Program. Andrew earned his BS in Broadcast Journalism from the S.I. Newhouse School of Public Communications at Syracuse University. He earned an MS in Educational Administration from Canisius College and an MBA from St. Bonaventure University. Andrew currently serves as VP of client engagement at CSI Specialty Group.

Transcript Notes:

Speaker 1: Welcome to the Specialty Pharmacy Podcast, your prescription for specialty pharmacy success.

Andy Madigan: Hello and welcome to the CSI Specialty Pharmacy Podcast. I’m Andy Madigan, your host for this episode and today Richard Williams and I will look at some of the notable industry events on the horizon for 2020. What groups of companies are getting together, what are some of the big topics being covered, and what events might be right for you to consider.

Andy Madigan: First I’m going to welcome Richard Williams. Richard is CSI’s Senior Vice President of pharmaceutical innovation and insights. Richard is a second generation pharmacist who has over three decades of experience in the pharmacy and pharmaceutical industry. Welcome Richard.

Richard William…: Thanks, Andy. Glad to be here.

Andy Madigan: Well, during our last episode we talked about the JPMorgan Healthcare Conference, which is the first big event to hit the calendar in January. So we won’t really be covering that one today. But looking ahead, Richard, what are some of the meetings that stand out to you for 2020?

Richard William…: Well, Andy, thanks for the opportunity to visit with your audience again, JPMorgan really is the business kickoff meeting every year. It takes place in January. But there are so many more meetings that are taking place and as we approach spring and the winter thaw, we’re on the cusp of a bunch of meetings that are about to take place.

Richard William…: I want to chat with you about some of those specifically in the pharmacy arena, but I’d be remiss if I didn’t talk about the importance of meetings and sharing of our information and learning new ideas. I would encourage everybody and over my experience in healthcare, it’s really important to take some time and invest to get away from your day to day job, to go and continue to learn. As Stephen Covey would say, to sharpen your saw.

Richard William…: There’s so much happening in healthcare today, in pharmacy today, that there’s no way to stay current. And the best way to do that is to attend a meeting and start building a relationship and networking with others that are attending the meeting.

Richard William…: So I share that with the audience just from a general standpoint that meetings are an important part of our profession and there are some great ones. And so let’s talk about those now.

Richard William…: Andy, I think there’s a number of different meetings depending on what your roles and responsibilities are. First of all, if I think about the big meetings that are coming up, the first one is HIMSS, which is the leading health information and technology conference that will bring together more than about 45,000 professionals from almost 100 countries. There’s going to be about 300 sessions and 1300 vendors there at that meeting.

Richard William…: As a pharmacist and a want to be techie, this is a great meeting. I once I asked the Chief Medical Officer of one of the large health insurance companies, “What is the absolute one meeting that I need to attend every year?” And he told me that that was HIMSS. And the first time I went I had a lot of people roll their eyes and question why I was attending that meeting, but the reality is it is really an amazing meeting. This year it’s going to be in Orlando on March the 9th through the 13th.

Richard William…: The next set of meetings that I look at, Andy, are really pharmacy related meetings and I call them the big three, that take place in the spring. The first one is SPCMA. It a specialty pharmacy meeting that takes place every spring. This year it’s March 16th through the 17th in Orlando, Florida. It’s really known for bringing together thought leaders and pharmacy benefit decision makers from PBMs, specialty pharmacies, pharma companies, and biotech manufacturers.

Richard William…: This is a good place to learn, but more importantly, this is when all of the manufacturers are finalizing contract negotiations with health insurers and PBMs for the following year. So the meeting that’s going to take place in just a few weeks, they will be focused on 2021 commercial formularies and what those are going to look like. From early morning meetings to late night dessert receptions, attendees at this meeting will run from one meeting to another, networking and preparing for the future. It’s one of the busiest meetings, but it’s really a who’s who of managed care, particularly pharmacy managed care.

Andy Madigan: CSI will be attending that meeting, right?

Richard William…: Absolutely. We will be there and we’ve got a number of meetings scheduled with manufacturers as well as specialty pharmacy. The next one would be AMCP. This one’s in Houston, Texas this year, April 21st through the 24th.

Richard William…: This is a more clinically focused meeting that brings together clinical pharmacists from retail hospital, managed care, and industry. The focus on this the last couple of years really been healthy economics and real world evidence. Both of those topics will be hotly discussed and debated. AMCP’s tagline is, we’re the people who help patients get the medications they need at a cost they can afford. And so it’s a much more clinical meeting, totally different focus than the meeting I just mentioned.

Richard William…: And then finally the third big meeting of the spring is Asembia. Asembia takes place, I think this is the 14th or 15th year of Asembia, and it will be May 4th through the 7th in Las Vegas. Asembia has grown from a fairly small meeting focused on specialty pharmacy during the last decade or so. Today, it is a must attend meeting for pharmacy leaders, providers, and manufacturers.

Richard William…: With specialty pharmaceuticals approaching about 50% of the pharmaceutical spend in the United States, this conference focuses on the small group of patients who utilize and benefit from specialty drugs. It’s a combination of clinical distribution, data and analytics, quality enhancements, and patient engagement.

Richard William…: For non-pharmacy leadership, this is the one meeting I would encourage you to consider attending because of the impact and the rapid evolution that is taking place with specialty, rare, and orphan drugs.

Andy Madigan: We have a coming up the World Congress, as we get more toward the fall, I believe, right?

Richard William…: Well, World Congress meetings span really the entire year. They host a number of meetings and what’s really different about them is they are very specific. They will have different tracks focused on very specific healthcare industry type of topics. Let me give you a couple of examples, Andy.

Richard William…: First is they have a Patient Copay Summit. They have a Vaccine Congress. They have an Orphan Drug Congress. These are big events, usually held in Washington around the time when the cherry trees and the tulips are blooming. That’s a great time to be in our nation’s capital.

Richard William…: As the name implies, these are global events and they routinely will have really good general sessions including senior government officials. The breakouts are usually much smaller and very interactive.

Richard William…: Of all the meetings, attending World Congress requires the most preparation because of the diversity of the topics and the diversity of the attendees. Again, these meetings are going to draw people from around the world and it’s a really interesting time and place to spend time learning about how healthcare is delivered around the world.

Richard William…: The last meeting of the summer, or one of the bigger meetings of the summer, is ASHP Summer Meeting, that’s going to be this year in Seattle on June 6th through the 10th.

Richard William…: The American Society of Hospital Pharmacists, they have another meeting in December, which they call their midyear meeting, which is a much bigger meeting, but the meeting in Seattle this year, again, it’s focused on hospital pharmacy and how it is adopting to the needs of their patients.

Richard William…: And again, hospital pharmacy used to be centered solely on the patients within the bricks and mortars of hospital. But as you see satellite clinics evolve, as you see ambulatory care centers evolve, hospital pharmacists are getting much more involved in many different facets of pharmacy, including outpatient, but also specialty pharmacy. It’s an area that we spend a lot of time in looking at specialty pharmacy operations and how they are optimized, but most of the major hospital systems are working diligently to build out their specialty pharmacy capabilities.

Richard William…: And this is a good meeting with a lot of experts and leaders within the hospital pharmacy community coming together. There’s a lot of exhibitors, there’s a lot of manufacturers. It’s a terrific meeting to attend.

Andy Madigan: So are there any others that you can think of?

Richard William…: There are a few others and I don’t have a lot of personal experience, but three come to mind. One is Becker’s, again focused on the hospital segment of healthcare. Their 11th annual meeting is going to be April 6th through the 9th in Chicago. They’re going to have about 320 hospital health system executive speaking there. So it’s a big meeting with almost a 4,000 attendees. They claim to have the smartest people in the healthcare arena attend this meeting. I’m not sure how they measure that, but I’m not going to question it.

Richard William…: Topics include the best in business focused strategic discussions in the healthcare industry. And again, this is a nationwide meeting that takes place.

Richard William…: The second meeting is in NACDS, National Association of Chain Drug Stores. They’re meeting this year out in Scottsdale, Arizona in April. They’ve been gathering for about 85 years. One of the things that they really highlight is that 96% of the attendees sign up to return the following year. So they just have great stickiness and they’re really meeting the needs of their members and attendees to this meeting because you don’t see a lot of churn, but you are able to develop a really long and deep lasting relationships in this setting.

Richard William…: And then the last one, this one’s into the fall, which we probably don’t need to go into, but it’s a little bit different. And that is the American Society of Consultant Pharmacists. That meeting’s in November in Kissimmee, Florida, outside of Orlando. And if you’re focused on the geriatric patient, longterm care, assisted living environments, this is a terrific pharmacy meeting for consultant pharmacists that provide to the nursing home segment.

Richard William…: Those are the meetings that I pay attention to. I’m sure I’m missing a lot of them. Are there other meetings that you look at, or you attend, or CSI is going to be attending in the next several months?

Andy Madigan: Yeah, certainly one of them is Health Connect Partners. Their spring pharmacy conference happens on May 18th through 20th, and they do a really great job. It features a reverse expo with healthcare providers, both clinical and on the business side. They have concurrent sessions running that feature some CPE credit sessions, and also partner case studies, and just issues that are occurring in the industry.

Andy Madigan: As I said, it’s a very well run event. There’s a lot happening. The attendees get great value from it. And this year it’s in New Orleans. Certainly there’s a lot to see and do in that city.

Andy Madigan: And then the other one of course is NASP, the National Association of Specialty Pharmacies, that’s taking place in September. It’s their eighth annual. NASP is like a smaller version of Asembia in that the audiences are very similar. Whether you’re working as a manufacturer, a PBM, a payer, a pharmacy provider, a lot of networking occurs there. It’s in the nation’s capital, so you have the legislative contact, the legislative updates, that are shared, and the opportunity to meet with policy makers.

Andy Madigan: This conference focuses on all aspects of specialty pharmacy, everything from changes in the market, legislative and policy updates, and especially how those impact patient care. Definitely an event that’s not to be missed by anybody working in the specialty pharmacy space.

Richard William…: Well, and I would anticipate that this year, NASP will be highly attended because we will only be a couple of months away from the presidential election and politics will be front and center of everybody’s minds, so that will be a really good meeting to attend, but a very exciting time to be in Washington as well.

Andy Madigan: In the nation’s capital, right at this time, in September, right before the presidential election, the city is going to be buzzing. I know when I was there a couple of years ago, it happened to be during some of the debates that were occurring. So you’ll have a lot of the establishments around that area have debate parties and it’s just a really exciting novel event where you feel like you’re taking part, to some extent, in our history. Just certainly if you work in the specialty pharmacy space in pretty much any realm, it’s an event not to be missed.

Richard William…: Andy, my experience is that there are all kinds of meetings that you can attend and you really have to be deliberate in which ones you do attend. There’s the direct cost because they’re expensive. I’m really shocked at how expensive meetings have become. It used to be that for $600-$700 you could attend a really good meeting, but those numbers are now $2,500, almost $3,000 in some cases.

Richard William…: So you have to look at it from the cost standpoint, both the direct costs, the fees, the transportation, the hotels, but also you’re going to miss two to three days of being out of the office and so much more focus needs to go into attending meetings and why you’re going to attend the meetings and having a plan, knowing what sessions you’re going to go to, knowing and setting up your meetings and people you want to meet ahead of time.

Richard William…: Meetings are a critical part of doing business, conducting business, in the healthcare sector, but you really have to be much more thoughtful today than you’ve ever been before in what meetings you attend and why you’re going to attend them. But there are some outstanding meetings out there covering a lot of topics. We’ve touched on a few of those today and I’m sure that there are many others that we don’t even know about.

Andy Madigan: Thank you, Richard. That’s about all the time we have today. I want to thank you for sharing your insights with us and we look forward to having you join us again.

Andy Madigan: To our listeners, I invite you to visit our website, csigroup.net, and download your free copy of the 2019 State of Specialty Pharmacies Report. Again, that’s csigroup.net/survey.

Andy Madigan: And at the time of this recording we are actually right in the midst of collecting data for the 2020 State of Specialty Pharmacy Survey and Report. And we would love to have your perspectives. So if you’ve not received an email invitation to participate in the survey, you can go to the website, again that’s csigroup.net/survey, and you can participate that way.

Andy Madigan: I want to thank you for listening to the CSI Specialty Pharmacy Podcast and if you’ve enjoyed listening today, I encourage you to subscribe to the podcast on your favorite podcast delivery platform. You can also keep up with us on social media by following CSI Specialty Group on LinkedIn, Twitter, and Facebook.

Andy Madigan: CSI Specialty Group is a subsidiary of group purchasing organization, Intalere. CSI expands Intalere’s suite of solutions to healthcare providers, health systems, pharmacies, and pharmaceutical partners.

Andy Madigan: Intalere is owned by Intermountain Healthcare, a leading healthcare system based in Salt Lake City, Utah. CSI supports our parent organization’s vision of providing tailored, smart solutions to help deliver superior services at an affordable cost.

Andy Madigan: You’ve been listening to the CSI Specialty Pharmacy Podcast. Until next time, good day.

Speaker 1: Thanks for listening to the Specialty Pharmacy Podcast. If there’s anything we mentioned in today’s show you missed, don’t worry, we take the show notes for you at csigroup.net/podcast. If you’re not already a subscriber, please consider pressing the subscribe button on our podcast player so you never miss one of our future episodes, and if you haven’t given us a rating or a review on iTunes yet, please find a spare minute and help us reach and educate even more of our specialty pharmacy peers.

Speaker 1: The Specialty Pharmacy Podcast is a production of CSI Specialty Group. Your go to firm for all things specialty pharmacy. Thanks again for listening and we’ll catch you next time, doctor’s orders.

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