Member Profile - Katherine J. Anderson

Katherine J. Anderson, PharmD, CGP, FASCP

Inspiring Optimal

The Consultant Pharmacist publishes occasional snapshots of members who have interesting practices or businesses or are involved in unusual projects or research. All pharmacists were asked to provide answers to several questions. This was originally published in the April 2017 issue of The Consultant Pharmacist.

Katherine J. “Kitty” Anderson, PharmD, CGP, FASCP, is owner of Pharmacists International, LLC, Seattle, Washington, a global network of patients, pharmacists, and providers working together in professional collaboration to optimize pharmacotherapy for patients.

Tell us about yourself and your business/ practice.

In 2005, at my graduation ceremony at the Washington State University College of Pharmacy, Spokane, the dean complimented two of us in recognition of our active involvement in research projects and our feedback in participating in our college's reaccreditation process. His and the encouragement of other professors motivated me to believe that I could inspire innovation in geriatric pharmacy if we, as pharmacists, could network, support, and encourage one another to provide excellence assuring safe medication use across the spectrum of care. I applied for the American Society of Consultant Pharmacists’ (ASCP) Feldman Scholarship during a fourth-year rotation and spent six weeks in China, where I helped set up an inventory system in a hospital pharmacy, instituted bilingual drug labeling, and taught nurses to compound a medication from a tablet to a liquid form, a necessity in the setting to make a drug affordable to meet the needs of many abandoned infants with birth defects. It was an amazing privilege.

I was 48 years old when I first became licensed as a pharmacist in the states of Washington and Idaho during my geriatric specialty residency at the Boise Veterans Administration Medical Center, Boise, Idaho. I knew I wanted to be a consultant pharmacist. It was a late career start, but I was determined to see if I could make a difference in care across a variety of settings. I was equipped to advance medication use that would improve my patients’ lives and work toward bettering geriatric care, particularly in rural nursing facilities and medical clinics.

My second purpose was to network with other pharmacists to build independent consulting businesses, prosper in our advocacy for safe medication use, and provide mutual support. I started Pharmacists International consulting services for that purpose. I hoped to influence the upcoming generation of pharmacists and inspire them to love our elderly. For the next several years I started clinics in conjunction with my pharmacy faculty positions in both Arkansas and Hawaii. I endeavored to practice geriatric pharmacy in a way I hoped would guide students in their future practices while mentoring them in pharmacist-managed cardiovascular disease, anticoagulation, and diabetes clinics. I’ve been active in ASCP, and now even more so, as the organization helps us prepare to be in independent practice. I find myself working in community pharmacy among mental health patients, in hospitals working in transitions of care with a community of homeless and those suffering from drug addiction, and those with geriatric syndromes such as heart failure and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), as well as visiting the homebound. As pharmacists we look for problems and we find a way—like no other profession can—to solve the difficult disease and medication challenges our patients face.

What have the highlights and challenges been over the years?

It was an honor to receive the ASCP Foundation’s 2007 Innovative Practice Award for the development of the Medi- Cog, a seven-minute screening that assesses short- and long-term memory, prescription literacy, and the ability of a patient to load a pillbox. Early career challenges included nursing facility assignments in Utah, Washington, Idaho, and Oregon. During those consulting opportunities, I strove to implement innovative recommendations in thousands of patients’ lives in more than 50 facilities. I then accepted the faculty position in Arkansas and started a rural diabetes clinic on the edge of the Mississippi Delta, where diabetes takes a huge toll on quality of life. Our interdisciplinary team made a marked difference: after a year, the average A1c had dropped a full percentage point, and dozens of clients had moved out of the A1c > 9 zone. Primarily, the patients had chosen lifestyle changes and adherence to their medications, which was hugely rewarding.

I loved teaching my geriatric courses, so much so that I focused on safe medication use and shared all my tips—with students, faculty, and interdisciplinary team members—that I learned from the ASCP continuing education programming. Long hours were required to teach in two new colleges of pharmacy in Arkansas and Hawaii, but my chief joy was facilitating improved health outcomes in patients who were not connecting to their doctors, and this inspired my students. When I taught in Hawaii, my students asked me to precept them as they reached out to the disenfranchised Marshallese population, where we initiated health care screenings. Our statistics matched with those of the University of Arkansas Medical Center student-pharmacist-led health screenings: 24% of Marshallese adult A1c results were at or above the 6.5 threshold. Students propelled a great deal of this health education, and they gained national recognition for their amazing efforts. But what we will always hold dear—students from both colleges I taught in, and the clinics we ran—was to give hope to patients that their health outcomes could soar and their A1cs plummet. There is nothing more gratifying than patients or their loved ones looking in your eyes and thanking you for empowering them to save their own life through improved self-care.

Recently, I had a rewarding experience as I combined my pharmacy and nutrition background by developing a low-salt, weight-loss-facilitating, bean-soup recipe, as well as implementing medication-related recommendations to aid heart failure (HF) patients and embrace adherence issues. I witnessed addicts using meth or alcohol or smoking, and many began regularly attending the HF clinic, and homeless people felt cared for and inspired to turn their lives around, which will help reduce rehospitalization. Roughly 80% of patients with COPD were not using their inhalers correctly, and we turned that around, which will help reduce rehospitalization. This contributed to the hospital being ranked one of the lowest in the state for COPD readmissions. I love my interdisciplinary team transition of care work among the most challenging patients and providing optimal, holistic care.

What advice can you offer other consultant pharmacists?

Be willing to reinvent yourself. ASCP is amazing in its breadth and depth of educational opportunities. The relationships with peers and mentoring opportunities are phenomenal.

What are your hopes for the future of your business/practice?

My goal is to help other independent consultant pharmacists succeed, whether it be in medication therapy management, long-term care, community, home care, hospital, or transitions of care. Pharmacists are often the critical missing link when things go wrong with medications. Our collective experience bridges those settings, and we can make a crucial difference. Networking opportunities at the state and national levels with other ASCP pharmacists are vital. Business knowledge is growing with the opportunities in Washington state and the provider status that allows pharmacists to bill insurance companies directly for our services; this is empowering us. I foresee ASCP as an influential international association able to lead pharmacy practice and providing critical education. I will continue to support budding entrepreneurs who ask me for assistance and do everything in my power to help them navigate the changing landscape of pharmacy, succeed in independent consultant practice, and make their mark for positive change in improving patient health outcomes.

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