Specialty pharmacies are an important resource for patients in need of access to specialty medications for complex conditions, such as cancer and multiple sclerosis. Patients who are prescribed to complex, costly specialty medications require a higher level of patient care and support than the average individual.
From specialized clinical knowledge to consistent communication, there are a number of key differences between specialty and traditional retail pharmacies—and a number of services a specialty pharmacy provides that a traditional pharmacy cannot. And these services make all the difference. Studies show that patients who exclusively use specialty pharmacies have a 60 percent higher likelihood of achieving optimum adherence.
Service plays a significant role in how successful patients are at treating chronic conditions with specialty medications. For example, specialty pharmacists and care coordinators are proactive about communicating with patients, offering a much higher level of patient interaction than a traditional retail pharmacy would. The clinical staff members at a specialty pharmacy are also disease-state-focused, possessing the knowledge and experience that’s necessary to guide patients through the treatment process effectively.
If you’re partnering with a specialty pharmacy for treatment, there are certain services that you can expect will be available to you to help navigate the process. Here are four service expectations you should have from a specialty pharmacy:
Educational Support and Resources
There is little room for error in medication regimens for certain conditions, and comprehensive patient education and support can make all the difference in terms of adherence. When selecting a specialty pharmacy, ask about the educational resources that will be available to address any questions or concerns you may have about treatment.
Pharmacist and Staff Availability
While some specialty pharmacies only offer support during business hours, many offer 24/7 support services to patients. Specialty pharmacists are disease-state-focused, with the specialized clinical knowledge that’s necessary to consult with patients on complex medical conditions. If you’re selecting a specialty pharmacy, look for one with a pharmacist who is regularly available to consult with patients directly and help them manage their prescribed medication regimens.
Financial Resources and Assistance
Many specialty pharmacies provide helpful financial resources to patients to help them gain access to the specialty medications they need and avoid any interruption of treatment. For example, specialty pharmacy staff can contact insurance companies to complete the prior authorization process for patients. They also work directly with medication manufacturers and nonprofit organizations to help patients apply for financial assistance programs in an effort to reduce costs.
Medication Adherence Programs
Non-adherence can account for up to 50 percent of treatment failures and up to 25 percent of hospitalizations each year. Medication adherence can have a direct impact on patient outcomes—which is why many specialty pharmacies have adherence programs designed to help patients manage treatment effectively. Text message medication reminders and smart pill bottles are a few examples of the ways specialty pharmacies can improve adherence.
These are a few of the key services that specialty pharmacies offer to help differentiate themselves from retail pharmacies and better serve patients who are fighting complex conditions with specialty medications. At Avella and BriovaRX specialty pharmacies, we offer these services and more to the patients we serve—and we’re always coming up with new ways to benefit providers and partner with patients on their treatment plans.