Why Specialty Pharmacies Should Offer Care Platforms to Patients
What if specialty pharmacies could add something to their workflow that helps them fulfill their role even more? Specialty pharmacies that add digital-enabled care platforms can further improve patient care and also increase their bottom line. Continue reading to learn why specialty pharmacies should offer care coordination platforms to patients.
Specialty pharmacies have a unique and much-needed place in the healthcare industry. Their patient-focused model centers on cost and complexity, which allows them to coordinate aspects of patient care and disease management that traditional pharmacies cannot. As a result, these pharmacies are able to significantly improve clinical and economic outcomes for patients with complex, chronic conditions.
What Is a Specialty Pharmacy?
As noted by the American Pharmacists Association, a specialty pharmacy provides distribution of specialty medications. A medication considered a specialty pharmaceutical may have some or all of the following characteristics:
- Treatment of complex, chronic, and/or rare conditions
- High cost, often exceeding $10,000, with some costing more than $100,000 annually
- Availability through exclusive, restricted, or limited distribution
- Special storage, handling, and/or administration requirements
- Ongoing monitoring for safety and/or efficacy
- Risk Evaluation Mitigation Strategy
Specialty drugs are highly complex; thus, patients require active clinical management, ongoing education, and personalized support for administering and optimizing the drugs’ therapeutic outcomes.
Improve Medication Adherence
Common disease states managed by specialty pharmacies include oncology, multiple sclerosis, rheumatoid arthritis, Crohn disease, HIV/AIDS, hepatitis C, and growth hormone disorders, among others. To treat these chronic and sometimes life-threatening conditions, adherence to specialty drugs is necessary. Unfortunately, patients often have trouble maintaining adherence from beginning to end and forego taking their medications due to:
- Too many medications
- Worried that they’ll become dependent on the medication(s)
- Lack of symptoms makes them question if they really need to take the medication in the first place
It’s common for patients to have misunderstandings about medication – why they’re supposed to take it, how much they should take, or when they should take it. Medication education may be briefly given at the pharmacy, but patients will likely have more questions while at home. If any confusion exists, the medication likely won’t be taken as prescribed, which has an enormous impact on that patient’s health outcomes.
Given their access to patients, pharmacists have the unique potential to improve medication adherence. A robust care platform can help alleviate the negative feelings that many have about their medication through education and answering commonly asked questions from the comfort of the home.
Engage More Effectively with Patients
Patient engagement platforms can enable pharmacies to deliver customized assessments directly to patients, allowing pharmacists to reach their patients faster and more efficiently. Plus, when pharmacies offer a platform that can be accessed from home, patients feel like they have more control over their health and condition management.
For example, in 2016, CVS Specialty Pharmacy launched a pilot program that used digital engagement tools to better manage complex patients and improve medication adherence rates. They used clinical-data and patient-reported outcomes data to determine exactly when a patient is most likely to experience a common side effect for a particular medication. Based on that, an automated message is sent to the patient at the time when that side effect is most likely to occur. If they are experiencing that side effect, they have the option of speaking to someone in real-time and getting assistance. This program’s medication adherence rate was approximately 30 percent higher than the control group, which did not use digital engagement tools.
Provide A Patient-centered Management Strategy
It’s important to engage with patients who have complex and chronic conditions frequently, as they often face clinical, financial and emotional tolls. With the help of a care management platform, specialty pharmacists can ensure that patients have timely, accurate, and thorough access to care.
For example, Veta Health’s automated care pathways provide information based on patient-reported outcomes: If a patient reports certain symptoms after taking a medication, the platform provides self-management tools and resources, like educational content and assessments, in real-time. Pharmacies are able to scale patient management programs and gain insights into evolving patient needs.
Advanced Analytics and Reporting Capabilities
A care platform can reveal valuable insights into patient care challenges and opportunities. Yet, care platforms are not only useful for the individual patient, but also to the study of life sciences as a whole. These monitoring tools help track the efficacy of various therapies and better understand diseases and available treatment options. By offering care platforms to patients, pharmacies can gain data and insights that would have otherwise been missed.
In addition, healthcare systems are looking to partner with specialty pharmacies that can help them receive incentive payments via value-based programs. For example, many hospitals are working with specialty pharmacists to bridge the gap between providers and improve communication. Specialty pharmacies with care platforms will be sought after because they deliver exclusive data, better health outcomes, and earnings.
Care Platforms Are a Win-Win for Pharmacies and Patients
Pharmacy benefit managers reported that specialty medications in the United States comprise 1–2% of prescription claims, but account for 45% of pharmacy spending, and are projected to rise to 60% of pharmacy spending this year.
A specialty pharmacy armed with the right tools has a positive and powerful impact on the healthcare industry. The ones that will stand out the most will use digital tools that collect data and customize clinical management services. The results include better patient outcomes, a reduction of healthcare resources, and better ambulatory interventions.
Specialty pharmacies should strive to implement innovative tools that allow all parties to win. Care platforms are the critical piece needed to benefit pharmacies and patients, all at once.
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