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Archive for March, 2015

Biggest Problems/Opportunities in Public Health & Pharmacy

Sunday, March 29th, 2015

I just finished watching the film, Resistance, on Netflix.  Nearly 180K people die in the U.S. now due to drug resistant bacteria.  Yet, we still allow farmers to use rampant antibiotics in farm animals that we eat, feeding the resistance even more.  The EU banned antibiotic feed to animals a long time ago, yet, we haven’t.  Shame on us.

This travesty aside, it got me thinking about the problems, challenges and (positive way of looking at it) opportunities that I think are probably the most pressing in public health now.  So, I started looking up what other healthcare pros think are pressing issues.  Sanjay Gupta’s are here.  I just finished Atul Gawande’s Being Mortal, where he presents the argument that quality vs. quantity of life near the end should be considered, as well as cost.  Of course, you can’t avoid the huge “EBOLA” banner right now over at CDC’s website, either.

It appears that over at the Indiana state’s website on public health–(other than our discriminatory lawmakers–yes, I went there), we suffer from and thus have initiatives around preventing the spread of HIV (mainly through Scott County’s Opana/dirty needles issue), HIP 2.0 and getting affordable healthcare plans on board, and the measles outbreak/getting vaccinated.

I’m now going to stop being Debbie Downer, and instead focus on the challenges that I think we’ll be facing in droves in healthcare over the coming years, that I think in turn could be opportunities for pharmacy and pharmacists.  This could create win-win situations for patients and pharmacies…but only if we have a few pharmacists out there who dare to get out of the box and try some new services and ideas.


Affordable, sustainable communities – This one seems the most obvious, but often times I don’t know if lawmakers stop and think about ensuring that the community itself is sustainable, rather than putting bandaids on problems, like some listed above.  This to me means good, close schools. This means affordable housing (like the tiny house movement – I still dream of the day living without a mortgage).  This means affordable healthcare too.  I still have friends who are willing to pay the penalties coming for not having healthcare insurance, because they simply cannot afford a healthcare plan (and I wish we could just get this burden off the backs of our employers).  This also means walkable communities, which have healthy food choices within a walk to the local grocery store.  This means designing houses in subdivisions where people can age in place too.  Frankly, without this as a major public health concern, any state or local community is doomed.

Am I saying that big healthcare conglomerates should get into civic and community development?  Yes. Where’s the big pharmacy chain Tiny House subdivision with the store in the center that sells healthy choices to consumers, and allows them to have care at variable levels in their tiny, mortgage free houses?  If healthcare conglomerates really care about public health, they’d be right there with commercial builders to redesign what healthy living looks like from the ground up, rather than running to the latest street corner with a light on it to build a new drugstore.

Vaccinations – Pharmacists are already on this one – I just wish we could serve up the vaccines closer to home, rather than forcing customers to come to us for them.

Antibiotic-free protein sources – This was the idea that sparked this post.  But seriously, if we continue to let farmers feed their animals antibiotics, scary bacteria like MRSA, and even resistant Salmonella are going to take out more of us in the population.  Whole Foods vows to not sell antibiotic fed meat from animals.  Here’s a list of plant-based protein sources.  The pharmacists out there can do a lot of educating around this realm…but are we?

Services to keep the elderly happy and healthy at home – This one actually goes right back up to the first problem I outlined here, but each day, 10,000 people in the US now are turning 65.  Harvard said we’re ill-prepared.  Health care costs are going to go up for the elderly.  They can’t make it to the drug store as easily (hopefully, the drones may help us out here).  One should look at Aging in Place resources.  Maybe Angie’s List or a pharmacy chain could get into an index of resources to help the elderly stay at home, and sell it like a subscription service?  It would have to be cheaper than hospital stays and long term care!  And yet, I don’t really see that many in healthcare stepping up into the aging in place phenomenon that’s coming…like it or not.

Shrinking # of Physicians - Sanjay is right about this one.  Why should someone go to undergraduate, then med school, then work like a dog in a residency and/or fellowship, rack up tons of debt, only to get out and let insurance companies and everyone else (including the federal government) tell them what they’ll pay for their services?  Frankly, I don’t know that medicine IS a wise choice for our best and brightest anymore.

The good news here is that mid level practitioners will have plenty of work to do if the # of physicians decreases as everyone predicts.  However, governments are going to have to get flexible about scopes of practice for the midlevels if they want their populations cared for – otherwise, we’ll be even less healthy than we are now.

These are all opportunities for public health, healthcare in general, and pharmacy specifically.

Will we rise to the challenges?



Dear Indiana,

Thursday, March 26th, 2015

At the end of a very long, crazy, tech-filled day, it’s nice to come back to the simple pleasure of…writing.

But, this letter to my home state is not going to be a nice or pretty one.

Today, for those of you not living in Indiana and/or who didn’t have the opportunity to watch the news, our Governor signed into law SB 101, which he describes as a “religious freedom” act.  The only trouble is, this bill has nothing to do with religion, nor freedom.

Screen Shot 2015-03-26 at 5.03.55 PM

My Tweet on this matter today.

Instead, it basically makes discrimination legal in our state.  And, thankfully and sadly all at the same time, there are businesses ready to pull their business OUT of the state now that this bill is signed.  In particular, businesses that are all-inclusive to all types of customers are ready to bail on doing business in and with Indiana because our state government chose to put this bill into action as law.

This bill sets Indiana back again (not that I even thought this could have been possible), and reeks of the same non-inclusive tones as last legislative session with an attempt to ban gay marriage.

I want my readers and the entire universe to know that I do not support this bill, nor do I support any bill that excludes people, or allows discrimination of any type.  I was taught (through my religion, and in being a decent person) that one should be inclusive–consider all points of view, and welcome diversity–NOT exclude.

Today, I’m embarrassed to call myself a native Hoosier.


Erin L. Albert


7 Coolest Programs & Projects I’ve Co-Designed Thus Far

Wednesday, March 25th, 2015

I need to write a post on cool programming I’ve designed/programmed/done thus far.  There’s a lot to choose from, but here are the ones that really stick out in my mind.  (And to say I did them solo would be absolutely WRONG.  These were all team/group efforts.  In some, I came up with the idea, but others implemented.  In others, someone else came up with the idea and I just executed.  Some were a hybrid of both skill sets. Some are in the past, others are ongoing, and some are yet to come.)  They will appear in random order below.

Relative to my philosophy on learning and design of tools to make cool products and services: I just want to litter the universe with knowledge.  After that, I am a maximizer, so I want to take the cool stuff produced and spread it like a virus to the widest audience possible.  That’s the background I try to keep in mind every time I work on a book, project, or process.

Enough disclaimers…ready?

1. Social Media Dames Unconference SeriesSocialMediaDamesTo help women get their voices heard online, my friend Amy Stark and I set up this conference series in Indiana (Indy and Ft. Wayne) so that women could jump over the hurdles of technology and go straight into sharing their stories.  Although I’ve stepped out of this series, I am hopeful that it will live on through Amy.

2. 21 Flavors: Ideas on How Might We Increase Medication Adherence?This one was not my idea in concept, but in 21 Flavors Graphicexecution.  Community Health Network co-sponsored this CE for pharmacists at Butler University a while ago.  What was fun about it was two fold: 1. there were 21 speakers, each speaking for 5 min about one “flavor” or way to increase medication adherence, with the intimidating factor of a gong going off if they exceeded 5 min.  2. This was the first program that I turned into enduring materials online via the google site.  We also published the summary in Drug Topics.  And, we had ice cream.  Seriously – what more could you want from a meeting?

3. BU Well1BU WellThis one is still ongoing.  We had press on it recently – co-written by the students.  They’re coming up with great ideas to make the first, open-access, student-driven, multimedia healthcare journal that we can find out there in the ether.  The journal will launch in the summer/fall of 2015, and I can’t wait to see what the first edition/volume will look like next summer.  Inventing the idea, the logo, and helping out the students with things like media training, journal development, and website management has been a true honor and blast.

4. STEM Princess Series - This will be a series, if it kills me!  I’m cranking on book 2 right now.  I’m alsoScreen Shot 2014-09-23 at 9.21.10 AM
having a doll made of one of the characters.  This needs to be a multimedia empire, not because I want to be the next Walt Disney, but because GIRLS NEED STABLE FINANCIAL FUTURES by choosing to opt in to STEM careers.  STEM is cool – we just need to show girls at an early age that it really IS cool!  I also like tearing down the baggage around the term “princess.” I love the manifesto we created for the book.

5. Children’s Book Student Writing & Publishing Series @ButlerU – I wrote about this project series recently, and it still blows my mind that different teams of students here at Butler across colleges have published 5 different books that are now helping others learn about healthcare, pharmacy, and STEM.  Writers really are leaders, and even though helping students produce these books is a TON of work, it’s worth it in the end, because we all grow from the experiences.

…And two haven’t happened yet – but they will soon!

6. Pearls Sessions – This year’s Annual BUCOPHS CE – June 4-5, 2015 Was it VanGogh who said that the best artists steal ideas?  Anyway, I totally stole this idea from ASHP, as they tend to have a lot of different speed round talks on topics they call pearls sessions.  At the end of two very long full days of CE, we’re going to try a speed round this year to keep things fun and moving.  Will this work?  Don’t know, but it will be fun to try!

7. Crowdfunding 101 – A Women Entrepreneurial Panel Discussion – March Madness – Mar 31, 2015A lot of people love to talk about helping women entrepreneurs raise capital for their businesses, as it’s probably the biggest hindering factor for women to grow established businesses.  In my world, talk is kind of cheap – at least as an entrepreneur.  Instead, I felt like acting and putting together a panel discussion of REAL WOMEN ENTREPRENEURS who ran REAL CROWDFUNDING CAMPAIGNS – to share how they did it, what they learned from the process, and most important, to teach other women how to do it.  No theoretical jabbering, no pontificating – just real talk on how to raise money for businesses through the crowdfunding channel.  This will be in Indy at Launch Fishers at the end of March.  Hope you can come learn how to make the money raising magic happen.

That’s it.  Those are the top 7 in recent years. As one of my friends reminded me today, I’m a life long learner.  And, the best part about learning is that I get to bring others along on the ride with me.  It’s been fun.  And, I hope in the future I get to help bring even more creative, fun and exciting learning projects to life.

How to Blog, BU Well, and Other Goodies

Monday, March 23rd, 2015

I’m embarrassingly behind on blogging – forgive me.  But, I was down with a bug this weekend, on top of the Bulldogs losing in a very hard-fought battle Sunday morning early during March Madness.

Anyway, here’s what’s cooking in my world.

First, congratulations to the students of BU Well – who put out a successful press release today along with BU Marketing – and also caught the attention of Inside Indiana Business – yay!  I’ll be collecting all their autographs this evening during media training with IIB’s Lauryn Gray – as they’re all stars now!

Second, I’m prepping a talk tomorrow on blogging basics.  Never given this talk before.  Hopefully I’m on the right track.  I’ll post slides after.  In the meantime, you can of course google how to set up a blog, or better yet, just call my friends over at Bitwise Fellows and they can set you up a blog without costing a fortune. Please tell them I sent you.

Third, the two children’s books are coming along nicely this year as senior book projects.  Max Greene and the Vaccine Team and The Gifts of Indiana are still coming soon to a bookstore near Butler!  Shout out to Mascot Books for being the publisher on both of these projects!

Fourth – we are planning for June already – for the 12th annual CE Symposium for Pharmacists.  Postcards went out last week, and we’re already nearing 15% full!  Really excited about this year’s event – there will be some fun topics.

Fifth – is it really snowing outside right now?  It is. Bleh.

Hurry up spring!

Out of Bounds: Sports

Thursday, March 19th, 2015

I’ve been away, because I’ve been slammed.  But now, I’m back.  And I’m here with an axe to grind.

Those who know me well also know that I’ve rarely, if ever, been a fan of sports.  Particularly professional, and sometimes even college–I’m just not into it.  So, I’m going to get on my soapbox here for a moment…please allow me some indulgence.

First, the NFL.  Once again, my opinion of the aforementioned NONPROFIT sunk even lower (not that that was even possible) today when a player convicted (by a jury) of domestic violence was signed on for over $10M to a team in Texas.  (Yes, I know the charges were dropped, but only because the victim didn’t show up to the appeal.)

Really, NFL?  When out of one side of your mouth you talk about the atrocity of domestic violence, you decide to go ahead and turn a blind eye in this case…?  The only word I can think of here to describe is one, with four letters: F-A-I-L.

Second, I’m going to pick on the NCAA.  I know everyone’s in to March Madness and all, but they (yet another non profit) decided to schedule the first round with Butler vs. Texas DURING CLASS TIME.  Seriously – I teach a class from 2:25 PM – 5:15 PM, and that was game time today.

Fortunately, I have classy students who actually came to class – I had perfect attendance today.  (That’s the Butler Way, BTW.)

NCAA, you FAILED today as well.

I’m here to ask – are we at universities to host pre-professional sports and athletics as our primary function, or are we here to teach students FIRST, then have sports as a co-curricular opportunity that should NOT interfere with teaching and learning? Second, should we throw our money at professional sports to support players earning millions of dollars who are convicted criminals?

Every time you buy a ticket to any of these events, you’re voting with your wallets.

I’ll let you decide as I step down from my soapbox now…

Noteworthy Nuggets from My Little Corner of the World

Monday, March 9th, 2015

Greetings from Orlando.

I know, don’t hate me. But it’s sunny and 70-something-ish as I type this.

I’m at ASAE’s Great Ideas Conference, along with 800+ other new people.  I’m enjoying this meeting, because it’s full of people who I don’t normally get the opportunity to interact with on a daily basis.  On top of that, I’ve been working online a lot today in plotting ahead to 2015-16.

So, here’s the noteworthy nuggets I’ve been trying to glue in my brain for the past couple of days.

1. Butler University student published books – When I look at the table below in planning ahead for the next academic year on book 7, all I can think is–wow.  Has this project really grown into this many projects and books?  Here’s a cool video interview on one of the two books being published as I type this.


Butler University Student-Written & Published Book Projects

2. 5 Things I’ve learned at ASAE Great Ideas – Well, I’m certain I’ve learned a lot more than 5 things at this conference, but here are the stickiest things thus far (and there’s still 1 more day to go for this conference):

  • a. Associations don’t want to be awesome.  This is the biggest Debbie downer realization, but the more I think about it, it’s true.  One speaker said that awesome ideas scare the sh*t out of boards, and even if they say they want innovative ideas, they really don’t want them at the end of the day.  I think she’s right.  This kind of bums me out, because I think trade associations should be moving and pressing forward in a profession, not holding it back.  If you are driving an association, I hope you don’t have this mindset, but I’m afraid many do.
  • b. Instagram/Yik Yak and Snapchat are the trifecta for college kids and young professionals via social media.  If you’re not using them in a non profit or an association, you’re doomed.
  • c. The top 10 big trends that are coming – how are you adapting to them? If you want to see what they are, look at my personal twitter feed for today – (@ErinLAlbert) – there’s a slide buried in it on these trends.  The ASAE Foundation paid for this trend study, so I won’t publish their data on my own blog.
  • d. Everything is like Netflix now – There’s even a subscription women’s clothing company now.  The first thing I’m going to do when I get home is try this out.  Netflix for clothes…? SIGN ME UP!
  • e. Books are everywhere here – I like that a lot of speakers at this event have actually published books on their areas of expertise. I even ran into some peeps in the audience who have written and published books but were just attending this event, like me.  Here are the books that speakers presented and attendees/speakers wrote.  (One was at the ASAE bookstore by an author I know, so I’m putting her latest book on the list too.)  Sorry, I’m just turning into a book snob – in that, if your ideas are that awesome, you should have a book on them, rather than just talking about them.  So, here’s a list of people walking the talk!

SPIKE Your Brand ROI – by Adele Cehrs
The Necessity of Strangers – Alan Gregerman
Overcoming an Imperfect Boss – Karin Hurt
Knowing Y – Sarah Sladek
42 Rules for Engaging Members Through Gamification – by Alcorn & Turner

3. I’m missing SX – One of these decades, I’m going to get to SXSW.  But, while I’m at this meeting, I’m enjoying the tweets from Austin too.  Maybe one day I’ll get there–and then and only then, will I be cool.

4. The future of pharmacy is here! I prattled on recently about where I think pharmacy is heading – the good, the bad and the ugly. Todd Eury allowed this to happen over at Pharmacy Podcast.  The audio is here, and the show notes are here.  If you’re a pharmacist, feel free to tweet me and let me know if I’m full of hot air, or if you agree with me.  Regardless of whether or not you agree, part of being a professional in my mind is discussing the future and owning it, rather than letting it own you. I also heard from Adele Cehrs today that associations need to “own” the whispered stuff about them, rather than ignoring it.  I agree with her.  And thus, I look forward to mixing it up with my colleagues.

5. Why? So, I attended a career development session at ASAE today too.  One of the speakers said we have to get Simon Sinek and ask ourselves the deep, philosophical “why” we are here, what gets us out of bed in the morning, etc.  When we paired and shared, my why is the same as it has been–to litter the universe with knowledge.  That’s my why I’m here thing.  What’s yours?  Think about it – because it will drive a lot of other decisions you have and make in your life.


The Big Idea: Crowdfunding 101

Thursday, March 5th, 2015

Kickstarter win on left, loss on right

Forgive me for not posting much this week.  It’s literally been March Madness around here.  Spring break at the day job is next week, and I’m heading to ASAE’s Great Ideas Conference for a couple of days – so I’m trying to plan ahead instead of suffering from the post-meeting blues when I return to the office after Orlando next week.  I’ve never been to an ASAE meeting before, so I’m pumped.

So, a while ago, the people over at Launch Fishers asked me to think about ways to support more women entrepreneurs in the community, I thought of this panel discussion. Today, they posted the event registration site for the 3/31 March madness program we’re having called Crowdfunding 101.  I’ve seen some other crowdfunding training locally, but rarely if at all with entrepreneurs who have actually EXECUTED a crowdfunding campaign or two.  Luckily, I know a few women entrepreneurs locally who have done this, including myself, and:

Now, I’m eager to learn more about successful crowdfunding at this event myself.  I’m batting 50% right now in this arena – my peeps successfully funded one project on Kickstarter, and I failed epically at a second campaign for the second STEM Princess book, (which I’m working on now anyway).  Happily, I get to ask the questions of the panelist, and ask away I will…

It’s been documented that raising VC and Angel funding is next to impossible for women business owners (because, candidly, it’s still a boys’ club).  BUT, women actually have been more successful than men in crowdfunding money at Kickstarter and Indiegogo – yay!  Funding is the one thing that’s holding a lot of women business owners back from growing their businesses in big ways.

So, I hope if nothing else, you’d consider funding a woman owned business with a cool project over at Kickstarter or Indiegogo (and it had better be more significant than potato salad–I’m not even going to link to that campaign)…or better yet, come to this event and learn how to successfully crowdfund your own campaign–and stretch your knowledge a bit further in terms of financial independence.

That’s March Madness that I can get behind…!