The PGx Consulting Academy teaches pharmacists how to build their own practice, build off their existing practice in a pharmacy or healthcare system, and ultimately provide the best patient care, however they see fit. Since inception in 2021, over 300 pharmacists have joined the Academy.
Community-Driven Success for Pharmacists
There are several resources at the Academy that pharmacists can tap into to help battle the ups and downs of entrepreneurship. Heartland Pharmacy spoke with Dr. Matt Busalacchi to gain some insights into the Academy and how it helps patients and pharmacists alike. According to Dr. Busalacchi, PGx rallies around its pharmacists to provide the best tools in the business.
“We are all here for one another to help those in our community,” he begins. “There are several social media groups. Guest experts are invited to present their line of work to the Academy group, and Continuing Education (CE) courses have also been added for Academy members to learn even more. Lastly, the Academy individualizes the learning process about personalized medicine.”
Reaching Your Full Potential
Dr. Jamie Wilkey is the founder of the PGx Consulting Confidence Academy. She was a pharmacy manager in her community for over 10 years and cared about her career and the patients she served. However, Dr. Busalacchi says the rising demands in the workplace caused her to seek after other opportunities.
“Jamie was determined to be a consultant pharmacist that focused on personalized medicine,” he says. “She was also determined to teach others about it. She created over 50 hours of coursework to lay out everything a pharmacist needs to know about PGx consulting work.”
Unlocking a pharmacist’s full potential is one of the most important tenets of PGx training. Dr. Busalacchi explains how pharmacists can reach this potential, touching on the significance of patient outcomes and the pharmacists’ oath.
“The oath of a pharmacist declares a few statements that pertain to PGx testing and consulting,” he says. “One of the statements reads: ‘I will apply my knowledge, experience, and skills to the best of my ability to assure optimal outcomes for all patients.’ During PGx training, pharmacists acquire the knowledge to utilize medications appropriately and safely for optimal patient outcomes. We are aware that medications have side effects, and we keep patients informed of those side effects.”
Care for a Lifetime
Perhaps the most important role of a pharmacist is their duty to improve the overall wellbeing and long-term care of each patient.
“PGx testing provides even more information to make the best prescribing decisions for our patients,” says Dr. Busalacchi. “We take kidney function and liver function into consideration when prescribing some medications. Pharmacogenomic testing should be considered for all patients and medications. Whether the patient is on medication with PGx guideline recommendations, they may be started on one soon, or they may need medication in 10 years, the PGx test results will be ready to assist with the decision process.”
Considering the Costs
Typically, the one thing everyone wants to know is: How much does it cost? Dr. Busalacchi begins by noting that the initial investment can be shocking, but that PGx is worth it in the long run. Plus, modern research paired with insurance benefits can ease the financial burden.
“PGx testing adds a slight cost up front, but pays off tremendously in the long run,” he assures. “It prevents future issues from arising, greatly reduces the trial-and-error prescribing process for some medications, and ultimately gives us much more information about our patients.”
With time and consistent research, Dr. Busalacchi is hopeful that the financial aspect will continue to improve.
“Many years ago, tests would cost thousands and thousands of dollars to receive such beneficial and actionable results,” says Dr. Busalacchi. “We did not have the list of actionable drug/gene pairs to assist with making changes to a patient’s regimen. We simply did not have the level of research about each medication and gene to appropriately take action.”
“Today, you are able to receive pharmacogenomic information for a few hundred dollars,” he continues. “Most often, HSA and FSA funds can be used towards the cost of the test if insurance does not cover it.”
Although costs for patients is always a concern, Dr. Busalacchi says pharmacogenomic testing is a cost, and time-saving mechanism for our healthcare system.
“Especially in psychiatry, PGx can play a huge role in eliminating the trial-and-error method of prescribing for our patients,” he says. “The test results will tell us which medications will work. The results will also tell us the appropriate dose for safety and efficacy. This will reduce the number of failed prescription attempts, the number of office visits, and will ultimately improve patient satisfaction.”
Above all, patient care is the most pressing concern for those enrolled in the Academy. Although the system may be imperfect, improvements are imminent with constant research and technological developments.
“Today, we have the CPIC (Clinical Pharmacogenetics Implementation Consortium) guidelines that provide peer-reviewed and evidence-based research that are published as clinical guidelines in PubMed,” says Dr. Busalacchi. “There are more and more studies providing pharmacogenomic evidence to assist with guidelines moving forward. The only other slight downside to pharmacogenomic testing is that there is usually a 7- to 10-day waiting period. Some labs are able to return the results sooner than that. Although it is not yet instantaneous, it does provide results that last a lifetime.”
“With more and more research, we are able to more confidently make decisions around the pharmacogenomic test results and how they can be applied to improving patient care,” says Dr. Busalacchi. “The list of medications and genes is continuously growing on a monthly basis.”
Not to mention, the results can help improve lives. For some medications, PGx testing can prevent potential harm or hospitalizations.
“At the forefront of PGx testing, pharmacists have the ability and knowledge to order the test for patients, act on the results, and make recommendations moving forward, ” says Dr. Busalacchi.
The Difference is in the Details
Pharmacists play an important role in identifying the most appropriate testing scenario for pharmacogenomic testing through meticulous conversations with patients and their physicians, using a fine-toothed comb to ensure that they have the right patient on the right medication for the most successful testing and results possible.
“Through medication therapy management, we take a step back to review the patient’s regimen and the appropriateness based on their disease states,” he explains. “By incorporating the results of PGx testing, we are adding a level of detail that can greatly determine the success of medications. When results from PGx testing are received by pharmacists, we are provided the opportunity to discuss the next steps with the patient’s physician. PGx testing helps to build our relationship between healthcare professions, which effectively takes steps towards improving the health outcomes for our patients.”
In short, Dr. Busalacchi reiterates the benefits of PGx testing. “It provides the details within our bodies to tell us how we will react to the medication, other medications we are already taking, and allows healthcare providers to treat patients much more effectively.”
If you are interested in learning more about the Academy, Dr. Busalacchi encourages reaching out to him directly at email@example.com, or going to the company website: https://archeshealthgroup.com/.
We at Heartland Pharmacy are happy to connect our partners and colleagues in the industry with PGx resources and information through Dr. Busalacchi or our PGx representative.
About Dr. Busalacchi
Matthew Busalacchi is a graduate from the University of Iowa College of Pharmacy and a graduate from the University of Wisconsin with his bachelor’s degree in genetics. With his background in community and hospital pharmacy, he has witnessed enough to propel him into his long term career path in pharmacogenomics. He believes pharmacogenomics is the future of pharmacy and healthcare to solve many of the issues that we observe. Matthew currently serves as the Vice President of Operations for the PGx Consulting Confidence Academy, while building his own consulting practice.