Profiling Agilum’s experts: Samuel Johnson

Samuel Johnson, Vice President of Clinical Solutions

Samuel Johnson brings unique perspectives on pharmacy to his role as Vice President of Clinical Solutions at Agilum. The Colorado native developed expertise in a clinical setting at a large health system and shifted his focus to advancing the profession through policy work and certification at the national level.

Johnson, who lives near Washington D.C. with his family, started his clinical pharmacy career at Kaiser Permanente Colorado Region in Denver, completing his postgraduate residency training in cardiovascular pharmacotherapy and then taking a full-time clinical specialist position. After eight and a half years, he shifted into pharmacogenetics, or personalized medicine, and was selected to be a National Academy of Medicine pharmacy fellow for his work developing a new clinical pharmacy service in the discipline.

That experience gave him a taste of health sciences and policy work, which led Johnson to take a job with the American College of Clinical Pharmacy as Director of Health Policy Interprofessional Affairs, where he lobbied Capitol Hill to advocate for comprehensive medication management platforms for pharmacists and engaged with industry leaders. In 2017, he joined the Board of Pharmacy Specialties, the certifying board for pharmacists in specialized practice areas, where he developed a research program and led examination development.

“And then that led me to Agilum,” Johnson said, “which is another system — a system of data and analytics that you can use to improve the quality and safety of care, and reduce costs of care,” Johnson said. “So that’s important.”

What excited you about the opportunity at Agilum and what they have to offer?

I’m someone who’s been in the clinic, spent a lot of time managing patients, medication regimens — particularly for cardiovascular disease — and I have a background as a practice-based researcher, so I’m familiar with how important it is to have data. You try to understand many challenges by evaluating the data you have, then collecting and analyzing additional data to make better decisions and change your processes. All of this, over time, contributes to improvement.

But what was exciting, what drew me into Agilum, was just the ability to combine their tremendous database with an analytics platform that’s growing into a potent resource for many different stakeholders, including pharmacy leadership, pharmacy and therapeutics committees, or frontline clinicians. It’s evident that healthcare, in general, is experiencing some disruption now because of the integration of analytics into healthcare, and it’s exciting to be a part of that growth.

What’s your assessment of the availability and usefulness of data in pharmacy settings as it exists today?

There is a ton of data. I think the trick is connecting different data streams or data feeds in a meaningful way from an overhead perspective. Pharmacy has been collecting data and has been ahead of the curve in many cases using computerized records. Pharmacists and pharmacies began using computerized records to track prescriptions decades ago. It was one of the first health professions to adopt computerized record-keeping widely, and it continues to expand.

Now we’re fortunate that other health professions and settings have widely implemented electronic medical records and health record-keeping systems. The trick is to cobble together different data streams into a 360-degree view of what happens to a patient — not just the medications they take but also where they receive them and where they were dispensed. What and where are their interactions with the healthcare team? Are they in a clinic? Are they in a hospital? Are they in a pharmacy? The data systems that we see in healthcare are starting to form connections. It’s sort of like neurons and the brain, coming together and communicating with each other so that everyone gets a clearer picture of what’s going on with patient care.

That’s the next step, and I think what’s exciting about Agilum is being on the frontlines of that effort, making connections with different data streams to get a better overall picture of patient care.

What are you focusing on in your new role?

I’m focused initially on building the Clinical Solutions team comprised of other clinical pharmacy specialists who can meticulously review the data and the analytics platform. This team offers an invaluable perspective, having practiced as frontline clinicians, understanding the real-world challenges and pressures these healthcare providers face, and understanding the data’s nuances that could explain patterns that we see from our analytics reports.

How do you think CRCA P&T stands out as a data analytics solution?

I’ve seen a variety of different databases that have been in use in different organizations, and one of the things that stands out about CRCA P&T is the way that it helps a user visualize the data to make it more meaningful and share a compelling story to different stakeholders within the health system, which is essential.

Another thing that sets CRCA P&T apart is how accessible and efficient it is in its use. Being available as a web-based platform doesn’t limit its flexibility or utility, and it’s very crisp in its functionality. You can generate data and customized population comparisons in seconds with a few mouse clicks. It’s an on-demand world we live in, and the platform does this well.

The third thing I would say is unique about CRCA P&T is its inherent ability for users of the platform to compare their institution against benchmark indexes. This ability is powerful in terms of evaluating where your health system or hospital stands, whether it’s a safety initiative or utilization of similar medications, or just evaluating an overall level, such as the baseline risk of a health system’s patient population, CRCA simplifies the comparative process and also provides numerous options for other quality reporting.