How Embedded Pharmacists Enhance the Patient Experience

Published 03/11/2019
by Kathryn Edwards

Staying centered on the person not the prescription is vitally important to the success of a health system specialty pharmacy program. When a health system implements a specialty pharmacy program in partnership with us, we collaborate to put the focus on direct patient engagement and individualized service. We think emedded pharmacists and liaisons are best way to drive improvements in therapy adherence and outcomes.

What does that look like in practice? It’s a little different for every patient. But, providing faster and more affordable access to prescriptions and more coordinated care will ultimately drive adherence to treatment regimens and help patients realize the full benefit of their specialty medications. It also has the potential to drive down the cost of care, which is crucial as the prevalence of chronic illness continues to increase.

Sometimes, putting the patient first involves stepping outside of traditional specialty pharmacy. Recently, a neurologist at one of our partner health systems referred a patient to the specialty pharmacy program for assistance obtaining three over-the-counter supplemental medications needed to help address the patient’s dangerously low lab levels. Although these were not specialty drugs, and were fairly inexpensive, the patient had little in the way of financial resources. She was unable to afford the $1 copay that had been offered to her through a local community organization. After exploring several options, her patient liaison found a foundation that covered the medications at no cost to the patient.

Within 24 hours, the patient received the over-the-counter medications she needed to properly manage her health. Since one of the supplements was an injection, the embedded pharmacists and specialty pharmacy liaisons also provided training, and her pharmacy liaison even picked up the medication and supplies so that the patient – who did not have transportation and had to rely on a driver – could simply get them at her training, rather than make an additional stop at the pharmacy.

Needless to say, the patient was incredibly grateful. When she came in for her training, she asked to meet her pharmacy liaison because she wanted to thank her for treating her like a “real person” instead of “just another patient.”

For all of us, it’s important to remember that even something as small as a dollar can be a burden for some of the patients in our care. Helping alleviate that challenge and taking care of individuals based on their unique needs like our embedded pharmacists and pharmacy liaisons do is ultimately what specialty pharmacy is all about.

To learn more about how one health system transformed the specialty pharmacy experience for their patients by saving them $1.4 million in copays and positively impacting the organization’s bottom line, click here.