Specialty pharmacies enhance patient outcomes [Pharmacy Practice Plus]

By Jason Zabransky

The role of the specialty pharmacy is becoming increasingly important as more specialty medications, biologics and complex therapies enter the Canadian market. Built and staffed with specially trained pharmacists and technicians, these facilities provide services specifically designed for patients taking complex medications. And with today’s evolving payer landscape, changing regulations and complex molecules being further commercialized, the need for specialty pharmacy services has never been greater. To truly enhance patient outcomes, specialty pharmacists must focus on patient-centric services that facilitate market access to innovative therapies, drive adherence and embrace technology.

Supporting access

Growth in the specialty drug segment has led to significant changes in the Canadian payer landscape. In 2015, specialty medication claims accounted for 29.9% of total drug spending, an increase from an already astonishing 26.5% the previous year. In fact, it is estimated that plan sponsors could spend over 42% of total drug spend on specialty medications by 2020.(1)
In light of this growth, specialty pharmacists have a key role to play. Due to today’s complex diseases and the volume of patients they support, specialty pharmacists can both encourage patients to adhere to complex therapies and demonstrate therapy effectiveness. Specialty pharmacists are also well-positioned to provide specialized counsel on drug trends and cost effectiveness.


Driving adherence

A specialty pharmacy’s ability to integrate with a Patient Support Program (PSP) can play a major role in patient adherence to therapy. PSPs have evolved to not only provide drug access support to physicians but also to enhance overall care for a patient. A specialty pharmacy working in tandem with a PSP allows for adherence monitoring and health-outcomes tracking throughout the patient journey, thereby creating a holistic picture of care at every touchpoint.

Specialty pharmacies also provide direct-to-patient services that complement primary care and aid adherence, such as patient education and counselling, injection/administration training, reimbursement navigation and lab test coordination. At Innomar Strategies, this idea—providing holistic and outcomes-based support for patients—has been a guiding principle, and has helped deliver better outcomes for patients.


Leveraging technology

Specialty pharmacies can also enhance patient incomes by helping protect the integrity of costly therapies through the use of technology. Cubixx, for instance, is an inventory management refrigerator system that stores and remotely monitors specialty medications. Twenty-four-hour monitoring protects temperature-sensitive pharmaceuticals, and the system has a battery backup, in case of power outage. In addition, passcode locks and Radio Frequency Identification technology ensure that all medication is recorded and accounted for, even when it is removed. By leveraging technology optimized for high-cost specialty medication, the specialty pharmacy becomes an integral part of a specialty patient’s journey.

As we look to the future of health care in Canada, it’s clear that the role of the specialty pharmacy is an important one. From customized patient care to adherence strategies to managing complex therapies, specialty pharmacies can enhance health outcomes for patients. At Innomar, that means continuing to invest in our specialty pharmacy services, and in the people who support Canadian patients.

Original publication:  Pharmacy Practice Plus, January 16 2017. Available online: http://www.canadianhealthcarenetwork.ca/pharmacists/discussions/commentary/enhancing-patient-outcomes-with-specialty-pharmacies-38467

2015 Drug Trends Report. Express Scripts Canada. rel="noopener noreferrer" Available online: http://www.express-scripts.ca/knowledge-centre/drug-trend-reports

About the Author

Jason Zabransky

Vice President
Specialty Operations
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