School of Pharmacy News & Media Center
The University of Mississippi

UM Pharmacy Team Places Third in PQA Healthcare Challenge

Posted on: June 25th, 2018 by herman

June 25, 2018

By Whitney Tarpy

OXFORD, Miss. – A team from the University of Mississippi School of Pharmacy placed third out of 22 teams in the Pharmacy Quality Alliance Healthcare Quality Innovation Challenge last month in Baltimore, Maryland.

The four-student group consisted of third-year student pharmacists Mariah Cole of Meridian, Mississippi, and Anna Crider of Brentwood, Tennessee, as well as Pharmacy Administration graduate students Sushmitha Inguva of Hyderabad, India, and Siddhi Korgaonkar of Mumbai, India.

Students at PQA Healthcare Challenge

From left to right, Anna Crider, Sushmitha Inguva, Mariah Cole and Siddhi Korgaonkar presented their business proposal at the PQA Healthcare Challenge.

“I was very proud of our group and thought they did a superb job of presenting their proposal and answering questions from the judges,” said Ben Banahan, director of the Center for Pharmaceutical Marketing and Management and professor of pharmacy administration. “Though we might be slightly biased, the UM faculty in attendance truly thought our team would get first place.

“They provided a great practical approach for improving access without developing a costly competitive system that was based on electronic health record systems.”

The team submitted a business summary around the prompt “Addressing Potentially Unsafe Opioid Use.” The students’ goal was to develop a plan that alleviated the time-consuming efforts it takes healthcare professionals to manually track and monitor a patient’s history of prescription opioid use.

The result was “Interactive Coordination in Healthcare prOmOting Safe and Effective Prescription Drug Use” or “iCHOOSE Rx.” The proposed computer/phone application would give providers an easier and more useful method to understand the patient’s history and manage their patient’s pain in an effective manner.

“Addiction is a serious issue in the United States, which is costly to our health system,” Cole said. “As a future pharmacist, I feel compelled to monitor for potential medication abuse. In addition, pharmacists play a great role in dealing with the current opioid crisis, so I was intrigued to improve prescription monitoring for all healthcare professionals.”

With their proposal submitted, the team prepared a presentation for judges at the PQA Annual Convention. Although it was their first time to present in front of a diverse audience, Inguva said the team felt comfortable on stage.

“We were nervous about answering the judges’ questions since we did not know what to expect,” Inguva said. “In order to prepare for it, the team conducted mock sessions where members would speculate potential questions, and then everyone would discuss how to tackle them.”

The team originated from collaboration discussions between the Academy of Managed Care Pharmacists and International Society for Pharmacoeconomics and Outcomes Research student chapters. The challenge provided the opportunity to learn from each other and spread awareness about each professional organization.

“Working with a team this size was a wonderful learning experience,” Crider said. “Being from different educational backgrounds, we each brought an aspect of creativity and knowledge to the proposal to make it thorough and applicable in the real world.

“This experience taught me how critical it is for each person working in a group to have different interests and education because it helps broaden the scope of conversation and interaction.”