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Meet Rim Elbeshbeshy, the new LIU Pharmacy Leonardi Institute fellow

Rim Elbeshbeshy had a lot going on when Agilum and Long Island University Pharmacy were soliciting candidates for its new Leonardi Institute for Health Analytics and AI post-doctoral fellowship. When her former mentor wrote suggesting she’d be a good fit and encouraging her to apply, Elbeshbeshy acknowledges she missed the message.

“I was giving upwards of 185 COVID-19 vaccines a day in my pharmacy, and 12-hour shifts were turning into 14-hour-plus shifts,” she said, “and sometimes you miss a few emails.”

Elbeshbeshy, BPS, PharmD, RPh and a retail pharmacist, was recently selected as the Leonardi Institute Fellow. She will spend the next two years using CRCA P&T, Agilum’s proprietary, longitudinal pharmacy database, to identify areas of opportunity in assessing the efficacy and costs associated with pharmaceutical drugs.

“Welcoming Rim as our inaugural Fellow starts an important phase of Agilum’s goal to improve outcomes and lower the total cost of care,” Agilum Executive Vice President Wyley McCoy said. “Rim will be instrumental in further development of machine learning and AI models with real-world data through the Leonardi Institute at LIU Pharmacy.”

Elbeshbeshy, 25, has been working for nearly four years with Duane Reade pharmacy, initially as an intern and for the past year as a registered pharmacist. She received her PharmD in 2020 from LIU Pharmacy, where for six years she commuted by train and subway two hours each way from her home in Teaneck, N.J. — an experience that she said, “takes dedication.”

At LIU, Elbeshbeshy was active starting as an undergraduate student, having been elected president of the Pre-Pharmacy Club, holding several leadership positions and creating unique inter-professional and collaborative opportunities for fellow pre-pharmacy students. In her final year, she was involved in a pair of academia-based research projects that revolved around the COVID-19 pandemic, both of which are currently under review for publication. She also conducted various outreach events for patient populations within New York City, including detailed analyses of medication utilization and patient outcomes within a retail setting, as part of her PharmD work.

Elbeshbeshy is the youngest of three siblings whose parents, she said, left behind relatives and their careers as lawyers in Egypt to give their children more opportunities in the United States.

“Being born and raised here has definitely given me opportunities my parents did not have,” she said. “It means a lot to me to be in a profession where I can give back and impact patients’ lives while simultaneously contributing to the advancement of the pharmacy profession.”

What made you decide you wanted to be a pharmacist and pursue that path?

From a young age, I always found myself wanting to help people and, more specifically, play a role in improving their health. My family would always find me with a toy stethoscope in my hand, running late to scheduled appointments with my stuffed animals scattered around the room. It was not until I was older that I spoke with a family friend who opened my eyes to their role as a pharmacist.

I recognized the impact pharmacists have on patient care in all sorts of settings and collaborating with all kinds of healthcare providers. With a vast reach to improve patient outcomes, and the endless possibilities within the field of pharmacy, I found my passion. Looking at the pharmacy profession today, it is truly remarkable to see how much it has advanced.

What attracted you to this fellowship program and made you want to apply?

Upon reading about the fellowship program, the first thing that stood out to me was the opportunity to complete a fellowship at my alma mater. I have always considered LIU as my second home, a place that promotes education and invokes innovation in people. I noticed the similarities between the fellow position in health analytics and AI, and health economics and outcomes research, which I have followed over the years, and my interest was piqued. As I read more and more about Agilum and their proprietary CRCA solution, I was eager to contribute to the applications of real-world data and real-world evidence, and make strides towards large-scale impacts on patient outcomes. Reading about the fellowship gave a glimpse into its uniqueness and true potential, and I knew this was the opportunity of a lifetime.

Do you have specific interests that you’d like to explore with your fellowship work or specific burning questions that you’d like to try and tackle?

My driving interest is to utilize my fellowship work with Agilum to help contribute to pharmacy and therapeutics (P&T) committee formulary decisions. If asked about the value of a medication, often times you will get a response that focuses on cost as the deciding factor, which is unfortunate. The value of a medication is so much more than its cost; it’s about the outcomes we can achieve. Nonetheless, cost does play a significant role in the allocation of resources.

Utilizing CRCA as a tool helps various healthcare stakeholders, such as hospitals working around a budget, to achieve more cost-effective formulary decision-making. Its critical to show that real-world data generates real-world evidence to improve patient outcomes and reduce the total cost of care. A niche exists to explore the real-world outcomes of a medication beyond those established within the constructs of clinical trials. Ultimately, we find that the research opportunities are endless, and so is the value we can all bring to the field of healthcare with the use of CRCA. I am excited to see what the future holds and the various projects that I will be able to bring to the table.

How did you first learn about CRCA P&T, and have you had a chance to use it at all?

As soon as I learned about LIU collaborating with Agilum, I was eager to learn more about how their proprietary CRCA platform can contribute to optimizing patient outcomes and reduce total cost of care. I was very intrigued by what I learned, including the platform’s extensive access to real-world data for over 140 million de-identified patients and rising. Since starting my fellowship, I have been able to work extensively with CRCA, which has allowed me to become familiar with the platform, navigating its features, and applying its use in generating research.

Can you talk a little bit about how you will be doing your work? Because you’ll be working from the Leonardi Institute at LIU Pharmacy. But you’re also working with people on the Agilum side, right?

This fellowship program definitely has a unique structure to allow for the inclusion of several integral experiences throughout these two years. My office is located within LIU, right next the new Leonardi Institute for Health Analytics and AI center. I get to work closely with LIU faculty and students, as well as the Agilum team, on several projects. I would say the LIU and Agilum teams truly make up the backbone of this opportunity. Although I get to meet with LIU faculty in person, I predominantly work with the Agilum team via various remote software programs, taking into account all of our various time zones.

My first month was dedicated to meeting the Agilum team, training with CRCA, and jumpstarting our research projects. Over the next two years, there will be opportunities to work with various healthcare stakeholders and truly gain a rounded experience. I like to think of everything as puzzle pieces: My work with LIU, Agilum and key healthcare stakeholders, such as NYU Langone and their P&T committee, all play a role in the development of an exceptional piece of art by the end of this fellowship.

Are you excited?

I am more than excited! I am working with such incredible teams from every direction. Working with LIU and Agilum provides such an incredible foundation and learning environment that pushes you to challenge yourself further. I cannot wait to keep learning and growing, and most importantly, contributing. I have no doubt that in putting my all into this opportunity, and constantly challenging myself to strive for higher standards and accomplishments, I can continue to be an advocate for patients and healthcare stakeholders involved, while establishing a successful foundation for fellows to build upon.