Solving complex problems: Q&A with Stan Kent, R.Ph., M.S., chief pharmacy officer

March 30, 2020  //  FOUND IN: Strategy & Leadership,

Recently, readers learned all about the Department of Pharmacy — a team of more than 500 employees who impact nearly every patient treated at Michigan Medicine. It’s also a group that steps up in a time of need, exemplified by staff members working together with College of Pharmacy students to create hand sanitizer.

To learn even more about this dedicated department and the work they do, Headlines recently caught up with Stan Kent, R.Ph., M.S., who joined Michigan Medicine in 2015 as the seventh chief pharmacy officer in the organization’s history.

Kent, who also serves as associate dean for clinical affairs and clinical assistant professor of pharmacy in the College of Pharmacy, discussed what he has liked most about his time at U-M and some of the challenges his team faces each day.

Here’s what he had to say:

Q: You joined the organization almost five years ago. What have you enjoyed most about your time at Michigan Medicine?

SK: While it is often complicated and challenging — especially at a time like this — there are a number of things I enjoy about working at Michigan Medicine. First, we get to make improvements to pharmacy services and the systems we use to manage medications that have an impact on patient care. We solve complex problems because everyone inside and outside the department is supportive and pulls together as one big team.

I report to Dr. Jeffrey Desmond, who has been instrumental in helping me to be successful. Drs. Robert Chang, Marie Lozon, Mark Pearlman and the entire P&T Committee have all willingly helped our department. And my entire pharmacy staff is extremely hard-working and dedicated to our patients —ensuring they get the care they need and deserve.

Finally, there is a significant educational component to my job. I absolutely love helping our pharmacists, technicians, managers, students and residents learn on a daily basis — it was a key factor in my decision to come to Michigan Medicine.

Q: What are some of the unique challenges that pharmacists and the pharmacy team face in a large academic medical center?

SK: Without a doubt our greatest challenges involve meeting the service needs of patients and caregivers. There are many demands placed on our department to provide medications in a timely and accurate manner and help manage drug therapy. That’s not an easy task in such a large institution.

Next, we work hard each day to keep up with — and assure our compliance with — the many regulations that govern pharmacy practice and medication use.

A third challenge is assuring adequate drug supply. At any given time there about 200 drugs in short supply. Our staff that manages these shortages does an unbelievable job such that most of the organization doesn’t even know it’s a huge problem.

Q: Those challenges can’t be easy. What is your team doing to address them?

SK: We continuously assess our work processes so we can provide service in a way that is safe and efficient. We also must keep up with the laws and regulations — so we conduct regular internal audits to assure we are meeting those requirements.

Q: Name one thing that most employees likely wouldn’t know about the Department of Pharmacy at Michigan Medicine?

SK: There are so many things to choose from! As I mentioned earlier, people don’t realize that we have a robust educational component. In fact, we have the oldest pharmacy residency program in the country (it started in 1927 and was called an internship at the time).

On the clinical side, some of the numbers we work with are staggering. We oversee the purchase and distribution of almost $600 million worth of drugs every year.

Q: What exciting initiatives does your team have in store over the next few months and years?

SK: The pharmacy department will be very involved in two major initiatives related to patient safety. We will be implementing “IV Prep,” a software and hardware system from BD that employs bar-coding, camera and gravimetric verification of compounded sterile products. That will ensure the right products are getting to the right patients at the right time.

And then we will be working on IV pump integration with MiChart. This system will exchange up-to-the-minute information between the Alaris infusion pumps and MiChart, which will help notify pharmacy when the next IV is due as well as and prevent pump programming errors.

These projects align with the organization’s journey to high reliability.

Q: What do you enjoy doing in your free time away from Michigan Medicine?

SK: I love traveling and playing golf but, most of all, I love spending time with my family. Whenever I can, I visit my three daughters and four grandchildren in Chicago.