Directly Speaking - We're Listening to What You Said!

by Scott A. Meyers, Executive Vice President, RPh, MS, FASHP
January 15, 2012

2011 was the year of surveys, and 2012 will probably continue to follow the trend.  Every year ICHP conducts an educational needs assessment to determine what educational programs you, our members, need.  We also conduct an annual member needs assessment to see what it is that you value as a member benefit and what you would like ICHP to provide in the way of products, services and benefits in the future.  This month the Division of Professional Affairs will be sending out a survey to pharmacy directors to determine where the health-system side of the profession is with the implementation of USP Chapter 797.  

I’m sure there will be more surveys on anything from legislative issues to practice trends and more, but I want to take this column to let you know that we read every comment and take every request or suggestion to heart at ICHP in order to do everything we can to help you, our members.  

Let’s start with the 2011 Spring Meeting evaluation:
  • The largest percentage of respondents liked the pearl programming format best, so for the Annual Meeting we had six pearl sessions: Joint Commission, Pharmacy Practice Model Initiative, Management, Communications, Residency Project and Clinical Pearls to be exact!
  • We heard lots of negative comments relating to the three hours of exhibits during this meeting.  Remember, exhibits keep your registration fee and membership dues lower.  In 2013 we will probably do something different to see if we can increase attendee satisfaction.
  • Attendees asked for more Joint Commission information and, as mentioned earlier, we had a session at the Annual Meeting.
  • Patient Safety, communications and quality assurance were popular requests at this meeting and were therefore centerpieces of the Annual Meeting.
Moving on to the September Annual Meeting:
  • At this meeting we asked what month you preferred to have the Annual Meeting and 90% indicated to keep it in September.  We intend to and already have September dates set for 2012 and 2013!
  • The most popular future topic recommendation was regulatory or government policy. In response, there will be 90 minutes of this program topic at the Spring Meeting in Normal!  Not to mention, there will be six one-hour Legislative Day 101 presentations around the state in January and February.
  • We got a couple of comments related to healthy choices for breakfasts at the meeting, and we are looking into options for future programs.  We are at the mercy of the catering service wherever we are, but we’ll try!
  • We heard a couple of complaints about no CD with the handouts at this meeting.  We decided not to produce the CDs to save the $500 plus expense.  We may rethink that for the Spring and Annual Meetings in 2012.  We will, however, not reproduce the handouts in paper format even though we get an occasional request for them still.  They are always available for download and printing if necessary but more and more members have laptops or tablets, so they can download and bring the electronic copies in a space saving and economical format.
  • We often receive complaints that ICHP is cliquish, but at this meeting one attendee actually commented that they enjoyed meeting the ICHP Board of Directors and other members.  At every meeting we encourage the ICHP Board to reach out to members they don’t know to welcome them to the meeting.  Even with a concerted effort, they can’t meet everyone and so we encourage every attendee to make it a point to reach out to our leadership to meet us.  For those of you who know me, I’ll talk to anybody!  As a matter of fact, the rest of the staff complains that I do too much of that at the meetings!
Regarding the Educational Needs Assessment administered this fall:
  • This was a long survey, and we thank all who participated.  It has to be long to do a thorough assessment of our members’ educational needs.
  • We asked about clinical topic relevance and the top responses were anticoagulation, infectious disease, new drugs and cardiology in general.  We are planning programming in all of these areas in 2012.
  • When we asked which topics would have the greatest impact on future practice, your responses were similar but also included pain management and medication therapy management.  You’ll be seeing more on these topics, too.
  • More than half of the respondents were unaware of the ICHP Champions Program that provides free member continuing pharmacy education (CPE) right in each hospital pharmacy department (if the department has a Champion).  Maybe it’s time to talk about the Champions program again so more members can obtain free CPE credit on a regular basis, right at work!
  • A large percentage of our members did not participate in a face-to-face educational offering last year.  ICHP will evaluate alternative methods of providing live local CPE programming in each affiliate.  Dinner meeting sponsorships are gone for the most part, but there may be other ways to make a couple happen each year.
Some highlights from our recent Members Needs Assessment:
  • The good news for me and the rest of the staff is that over 95% of our members who responded to this survey believed ICHP provides good value for its membership dues!
  • The most valuable services to our members are:
    • Local CPE programming for pharmacists
    • Up to date information for our technician members
    • Networking opportunities for our student member
  • We realize that local programming has decreased substantially over the past several years and yet it still remains a valued service, so we will be working on that as mentioned earlier.
  • Unfortunately this survey revealed that more than half of our members are reading KeePosted less now that it is only available online.  We will continue to evaluate this development, send postcard reminders from time to time, and see what happens over the next 6 to 12 months.  ICHP is saving money, but if members are missing valuable information, we will need to make some changes.
  • Members find email alerts from ICHP valuable but the majority prefer them no more often than weekly.  We will work on this to make sure we keep them close to that frequency.  However, emergent issues sometime require more frequent updates.
  • We received significant interest in creating new mechanisms for members to communicate with each other efficiently and we are looking at what is available through technology.  If ICHP hosts blogs, listservs or other communications tools, our staff and volunteers will be required to monitor the content to insure that these communications don’t violate laws (primarily antitrust and confidentiality laws) or are not offensive to ICHP members.  Well intended communication can often get sidetracked and cost the association time, money and reputation.

These are just a few of the issues you have brought to our attention through our variety of evaluations and assessment tools.  We always welcome comments, suggestions and concerns whenever you think of them.  The volunteer and staff leadership of ICHP truly listens to our members and wants to create an organization that meets the needs of the vast majority almost all the time.  There will be times when meeting everyone’s needs is impossible.  For example, during Statewide meetings when some respondents complain the educational session rooms are too cold while other complains that the same rooms are too warm!  We may not be able to provide a lactose-free, gluten-free and nut-free menu alternative for meeting participants, but we always offer vegetarian options and will do our best with other requests once we are informed of their need.  For a couple of our special members, we’d love to provide everyone with a perfectly grilled filet mignon at every Annual Meeting lunch but, well, the dollars just aren’t there!  And we know you know that, too!

Thank you to all of you who have responded to our surveys, and I encourage you all to complete as many of them as you possibly can.  We want to provide the best products, services and benefits to our members, and we need your help to identify which ones they are!  You speak, and we’ll listen – I promise.

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