By Kayla Green, Vizient
Pharmacy was practically engrained in Gretchen Brummel's DNA. Before she was even tall enough to reach the counter, she was helping out in her parents' small, independent pharmacy in rural Iowa sweeping the floors and chatting with customers. She would later earn her PharmD at the University of Iowa and complete two residencies before, eventually, making her way to Vizient.
As a child, Brummel also developed a passion for music. By the tender age of two, she was able to recite the lyrics to over 200 songs, or so her parents say, and by the time she was in her forties, she had performed as a vocalist for close to 1,000 shows, sharing stages with the likes of the Human League, Halestorm, Vanilla Ice and personalities from The Howard Stern Show.
So, between her (nearly literal) lifetime experience in pharmacy and her gift of music, it's no wonder the Vizient pharmacy executive director was tapped to launch and host VerifiedRx, a podcast series focused on delivering short doses of insight for hospitals' frontline pharmacists. "Podcasting sort of found me," she laughed. "I think between my voice and inquisitive nature — always asking questions and wanting to learn more — this opportunity just fell in my lap when our pharmacy team started looking for new ways to reach healthcare providers."
VerifiedRx launched in January 2021, following the first year of the pandemic, and would go on to feature topics such as COVID vaccination approvals, supply chain and safety, cybersecurity awareness, the future of biosimilars, and, yes, even the critical decisions that go into treating rattlesnake bites — an award-winning episode. An episode on drug shortages – No Patient Left Behind: The Race to End Drug Shortages – also received a Platinum Hermes Creative Award this year. To date, the podcast boasts 46 episodes and more than 10,000 downloads.
"The stories, success, challenges and opportunities in pharmacy are built for podcasting. There is such rich diversity in what we do and how we serve patients," Brummel said. "Pharmacy professionals are incredibly creative in their approach to problem solving, and I love being able to help elicit and shape those narratives for our listeners in a way that can provide insight."
An episode on the clinical implications of reversal agents was particularly informative for one provider as they underwent a formulary review of their own agents. Another episode, "The KIDs list – naughty or nice," focused on potentially inappropriate medications for pediatric patients and was referenced on a third-party podcast series, This Week in Pharmacy. And recent increases in downloads on "The Drug Supply Chain Security Act: The road to patient safety" indicate the 2021 episode's continued value as healthcare providers reference back to it in preparation for the November 2023 deadline.
"The DSCSA was created nearly 10 years ago for the protection and removal of counterfeit, stolen or contaminated medications from the market," said Brummel. "The act requires the entirety of the pharmaceutical supply chain to develop new processes and procedures to enhance and improve patient safety and care. It's an incredible and necessary undertaking."
The 14-minute episode features a healthcare provider who spoke about the forthcoming challenges as suppliers, manufacturers and pharmacists prepare for the deadline. A follow-up series will launch later this year that provides additional recommendations for implementation.
A look to the future
Recently, Brummel and a production team set up a recording studio at the annual American Society of Health-System Pharmacists (ASHP) Midyear Clinical Meeting and Exhibition where they recorded a dozen interviews on topics ranging from meditation as a resiliency tool to transformational pharmacy.
"As we look to the coming year, it's incredibly important that we ensure we're covering the topics most top-of-mind for healthcare providers as we've consistently seen that there's a need for this expertise," Brummel said.
For VerifiedRx, the future remains bright with new speakers lined up and upcoming episodes publishing twice per month. A new series, Flex Your Pharmacy, will cover innovative ways pharmacy staff contribute to overall healthcare delivery. Another series will focus on chief pharmacy officers and pharmacy leadership, covering topics like succession planning, professional development and executive issues.
"It's very rewarding to be able to provide this resource for frontline pharmacists and to know that these podcast episodes are making a difference in healthcare," Brummel said. "The added bonus is that I get to combine both of my passions into what I do every day."
Stay tuned for new VerifiedRx episodes online or wherever podcasts are available.