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PQA launches a new quality measurement initiative aimed at improving adult immunizations data capture

BY Michael Johnsen

SPRINGFIELD, Va. — The Pharmacy Quality Alliance has developed and launched a new quality measurement initiative, aimed at narrowing gaps in measurement and reporting for adult immunizations. The PQA Adult Immunization Task Force will convene regularly over the next 12- to 18-month period. 
 
The task force recently assembled in Arlington, Va., on June 17 for its initial in-person meeting. The meeting received wide participation and consisted of a broad group of stakeholders, including the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Association of State and Territorial Health Officials, National Association of County and City Health Officials, Immunization Action Coalition, American Immunization Registry Association, national and state pharmacy associations, national pharmacy chains, independent pharmacists, academia, health plans and technology companies.
 
"As long as gaps in pharmacy-based immunization measurement and reporting remain, the ability of population health professionals to meet population prevention and wellness goals will continue to be called into question," said PQA executive director Laura Cranston. "The organization of this task force presents a significant opportunity to address these gaps and offer solutions for overcoming current barriers."
 
Two co-chairs are leading this effort — Mitchel Rothholz, chief strategy officer at the American Pharmacists Association, and Jeff Goad, professor and chair of the Department of Pharmacy Practice at Chapman University School of Pharmacy. PQA's director of Quality Strategies, Sam Stolpe, is the staff liaison for the task force.
 
At the recent meeting, the task force worked together to identify and address a variety of challenges within existing and proposed immunization reporting standards. The discussion focused on developing best practice recommendations and identifying measure concept work areas that will be implementable within the pharmacy practice setting, and that are translatable to other healthcare settings. The group formulated several recommendations for methods that will allow for better data capture through utilization of registries and standardization of documentation. Key work areas identified by the task force were prioritized, and will be the topic of the task force's ongoing telephonic efforts moving forward.
 
The task force has emphasized the need to align with priority areas addressed through other national-level organizations, such as the National Quality Forum Adult Immunization Committee, ACIP guidelines and NVAC standards.
 
The task force will next convene in person at a meeting to be held in the first quarter of next year. The measures concepts developed by the task force will follow the normal PQA measure development process, with a PQA member endorsement vote to be conducted in the fall of 2015.
 
 
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Breg launches brace for sufferers of patella mal-tracking

BY Michael Johnsen

CARLSBAD, Calif. — Breg on Thursday announced the launch of the FreeRunner knee brace with new innovations to help people, particularly runners, who suffer from patella mal-tracking return to active lifestyles. FreeRunner's patent-pending design acts on knee anatomy differently than other braces, providing support when patients need it most, and the ability to move normally when they don't.
 
Patellofemoral issues are the most common cause of knee pain seen by healthcare providers, according to the company. More than 2.5 million runners are diagnosed with patellofemoral pain syndrome every year. It is typically caused by overuse, injury, excess weight, muscle imbalance or a knee cap that is misaligned. Common examples of patella mal-tracking are patella dislocation, runner's knee and patellar tendonitis, among other conditions. 
 
"Working with Breg on this brace is my first experience with a manufacturer partnering with clinicians to design a better product," said Jill Monson of Monson Orthopaedic Consulting. "The team really listened to relevant clinical needs and goals of patients, and helped develop a brace design rooted in known patellofemoral joint biomechanics."
 
Unlike other patellofemoral braces, FreeRunner provides maximum stabilization of the patella when the leg is extended, helping to keep the knee cap in place when it is most vulnerable to mal-tracking or dislocation. The brace offloads pressure when the leg is bent in flexion and the patella is not as unstable. This allows freedom of movement without sacrificing support.
 
"Patellofemoral braces have not changed much in the last 20 years," said Brad Lee, president and CEO of Breg. "Our new FreeRunner challenges the outdated way of bracing these conditions. It is highly functional, comfortable and non-binding during activity. We set out to make a brace that works and people want to wear. We believe we've achieved that goal."
 
At 7 oz., FreeRunner is lightweight and low-profile for minimal interference during activities. The brace incorporates new, breathable Smart-Zone compression fabrics that direct moderate compression for anatomic support where needed, and light compression over the patella and the popliteal space at the back of the knee for a non-binding fit.
 
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Crossmark debuts new collaboration center

BY Mike Troy

PLANO, Texas — Sales and marketing services leader Crossmark unveiled a first-of-its-kind collaboration center on July 10 just steps from Walmart’s Bentonville, Ark., headquarters. The new facility offers the retailer and its trading partners a wide range of joint business planning, shopper insights and store execution capabilities.
 

The 18,500-sq.-ft. facility, branded as the Crossmark Center for Collaboration, is unlike anything in the retail industry due to its proximity to the world’s largest retailer and range of capabilities. It features nine rooms of various sizes with flat panel displays and state-of-the-art communications technology, a presentation kitchen where food samples can be prepared as a customer would in a home environment and a solutions center focused on on-shelf availability and shopper research. In addition, there are two rooms equipped with 8-ft. by 16 ft. PRYSM digital touchscreen walls capable of replicating store shelves and a large space on the second floor that can accommodate more than 100 people for meetings or be converted into a product display area.
 

At the opening ceremony, Mike Graen, Crossmark’s VP collaboration, characterized the facility as a tool that will enable new levels of collaboration. Crossmark CEO Ben Fisher added that the Center fits with the premise on which the company was founded.

 

“As a service company, we were built to help other companies achieve their goals by finding better ways to build and grow brands and reduce costs,” Fisher said.
 

Increasingly that process involves retailers and suppliers working more closely together across a range of disciplines, such as merchandising, marketing, operations and supply chain in their respective organizations. Crossmark hopes to facilitate such meetings at its new facility with existing clients as well as companies who are not its customers.
 

“It can’t just be for our clients because that would defeat the purpose, and it wouldn’t create value for Walmart,” Fisher said. “We are going to help brands and retailers find better ways to engage with shoppers.”
 

While the opening of the facility marks a new chapter in collaboration between Walmart and its suppliers, the event also was an opportunity for Crossmark to recognize the contributions of Joe Crafton, who retired as CEO earlier this year.
 

“It truly was Joe’s idea,” Fisher said of his long-time business partner and predecessor. “He has always been a guy who was willing to run out in front of the pack. He found ways to do things that most of us never saw.”
 

From Crafton’s perspective, the inspiration for the Center wasn’t anything so grand. “It came about as a result of me needing a parking space,” Crafton said.
 

While visiting Walmart’s home office for a meeting with U.S. president and CEO Bill Simon, Crafton was having difficulty locating a parking space. Desperate, he parked in the front yard of a small home adjacent to Walmart’s headquarters occupied by a woman who decades earlier had sold a portion of her land to Sam Walton.
 

After his meeting ended, Crafton knocked on the woman’s door to apologize for parking in her front yard. The apology turned into a 30-minute conversation that led to a connection to the woman’s son, who upon his mother’s passing sold the property to Crossmark, but not until Crafton made sure Walmart didn’t have designs on the real estate.
 

“Joe saw a little plot of land and recognized the opportunity,” Fisher said. “The real key for us long-term is we’ve got to make sure we always provide the latest and greatest capabilities and technology.”

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