Delivering an Excellent Patient Experience through a Health System Specialty Pharmacy Program

Published 09/19/2019
by Kathryn Edwards

A pharmacist who works in the dermatology clinic at one of our health system partners recently cared for a patient with uncontrolled psoriasis. In addition to his psoriasis symptoms, the patient was experiencing side effects from his current therapy and other symptoms possibly caused by psoriatic arthritis.

Together with the patient’s care team, the pharmacist identified a biologic that would get the patient’s psoriasis under control. However, the patient couldn’t start this therapy or see a rheumatologist to address his other symptoms until he was treated for Hepatitis C.

The pharmacist and nurse practitioner planned to help the patient schedule an appointment with the infectious disease clinic, but were pleased to learn he had already done so. Unfortunately, because the patient hadn’t fully explained his medical condition to the scheduler, his appointment wasn’t for several weeks.

The pharmacist and nurse practitioner decided to see if they could get the patient an earlier appointment. Together, they reached out to the infectious disease clinic with their request. As a result of their combined efforts, the patient’s appointment was moved to the next week and he was able to begin treatment for Hepatitis C and take steps to control his psoriasis and psoriatic arthritis sooner.

This story illustrates how clinic-based specialty pharmacy team members are positioned to be true partners to patients and their providers. Working directly in the health system’s specialty clinics allows clinical pharmacists to:

  1. Provide doctors and nurses with real-time guidance on the most appropriate, effective therapies for patients: Because they work alongside other care team members, clinic-based pharmacists serve as go-to resources for doctors and nurses. Providers often partner with pharmacists to identify appropriate specialty therapies for patients. Pharmacists also support medication reconciliation, helping improve safety for patients.
  2. Give patients the personalized support needed to improve adherence to specialty medications: In-clinic pharmacists meet with patients in-person to provide medication education and are available 24/7 for ongoing counseling and support. Their on-site presence helps foster strong relationships that support effective communication about adherence and side effects over the long-term.
  3. Collaborate with pharmacists across the health system: Because the clinical pharmacists are part of a larger on-site specialty pharmacy team, they can work across specialty clinics to support coordinated patient experience. 

When asked what this experience meant to him, the clinical pharmacist shared, “It took just one minute for us to help this patient be seen two months sooner. Working in the dermatology clinic allows me to truly partner with other care team members to provide an excellent patient care experience.”

 Learn more about providers’ perspectives on the benefits of a health system specialty pharmacy or contact us to discuss starting or growing a specialty pharmacy program at your organization.