PQA launches new quality improvement program


Each of the 26 free CE modules features an online Powerpoint lecture, a training video, an interactive activity set, and assessment questions.

The Pharmacy Quality Alliance (PQA) recently released EPIQ (Educating Pharmacists in Quality), a program designed to help community pharmacists focus on issues of quality improvement in their practices.

Samuel Stolpe“Community pharmacy leadership is really starting to understand quality measurement, its importance in the marketplace, why they need to focus on quality improvement, and why they have to meet their quality goals,” said Samuel Stolpe, director of quality strategies for PQA. “However, one of the challenges we have seen in community pharmacy is getting the message to the front lines. We are interested in developing efficiencies in getting that message, along with the knowledge and tools to improve quality, delivered straight to the front lines.”

The training program can be used to improve quality and raise Medicare Part D Star Ratings.

“Health insurers are using community pharmacies to improve their Star Ratings, partnering with them to target their quality goals. The onus is on community pharmacies to make sure they understand and address their quality numbers. Medication adherence, medication use, and safety measures account for a fairly substantial part – 50% – of Star Ratings, so focusing on pharmacy quality is essential,” Stolpe said.


CE training modules

To that end, PQA’s new EPIQ training program, available for free download from the PQA  website, is designed to train pharmacists, healthcare professionals, and pharmacy students in methods to measure, improve, and report the quality of care in pharmacy practice.

The EPIQ program is set up as 26 continuing education (CE) modules, each one featuring an online unit and corresponding training video.

“We have also grouped modules by pharmacy practice sector, with eight modules recommended for community pharmacy,” Stolpe said.

Pharmacy schools can download the modules in full for live CE or professional development training.

“EPIQ materials are available for pharmacy faculty and students as a turnkey, 26-session course, which can either be used in its entirety as one-hour lectures within a full-semester course or separated into individual sessions to be integrated into an existing class,” said a statement from PQA.


Educational versatility

Terri Warholak“EPIQ contains educational resources that can be used by individual pharmacists, preceptors, or pharmacy educators,” said lead developer Terri Warholak, PhD, RPh, associate professor and investigator in the Center for Health Outcomes and Pharmacoeconomic Research at the University of Arizona College of Pharmacy.

The EPIQ modules are also designed for pharmacy school students, “who need to be able to understand quality standards and hit the ground running once they enter practice,” Stolpe said. “This is part of the way we are doing business now as pharmacists. “

The program sessions are tailored for use in a variety of settings, including community pharmacies, health systems, and managed-care settings.

“Its major subsections cover the critical quality topics facing today’s practitioner, such as quality improvement, medication safety and error reduction, and quality measures,” Warholak said.

Modules include subject areas such as “Understanding problems in the use of medications,” “The business case for pharmacy quality,” “What is quality improvement?” “Statistical process control,” “Team building,” “EQUIPP and pharmacy quality reporting,” “Medication errors prevention lab,” and “Health information technology and quality.”

Each session contains a PowerPoint lecture, an instructor guide, an interactive activity set, and assessment questions.


Successful launch

PQA introduced the program at NACDS’s Total Store Expo conference in August.

“We met with quite a few leaders, and had remarkable success. There is a lot of excitement around this training, since many pharmacy executives are exploring how to get quality improvement tools into the hands of their pharmacists,” Stolpe said.

To download EPIQ modules or take the course online, visit www.PQAalliance.org. Practicing pharmacists who register for CE credit by entering their NABP number will be directed to the EPIQ portal.

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