Understanding the Impact of Health System Specialty Pharmacist Interventions

Published 11/05/2021
by Kathryn Edwards

In our Investigator Insight series, we’re sharing perspectives and take-aways from the pharmacist and pharmacy liaison researchers who presented their studies and findings in our recent Expert Review of Recent Health System Specialty Pharmacy Research Studies webinar series.

Suprina Patel serves as an Autoimmune Central Support Pharmacist at Trellis Rx. Her research study investigated the interventions recommended by locally-embedded health system specialty pharmacists and their impact on patient care and outcomes. The study was co-authored by Trellis Rx clinical pharmacists Jessica Mourani and Neda Hanson and University of Georgia Pharm.D. candidate Alexa Miller.

Want to learn more? Watch the on-demand webinar featuring this outcomes research study.

  1. Why did you choose to investigate this topic?
    Suprina: Health system specialty pharmacy is an ever changing and growing field. It is important to understand the differences between health system and traditional specialty pharmacy services. One significant difference: with access to the EHR and trusting relationships with providers, locally-embedded health system pharmacists are better positioned to recommend and implement interventions. This study investigated the quantity and nature of those interventions to shed light on the impact locally-embedded health system pharmacists can have on patient care and outcomes. The findings highlight the diverse nature of health system specialty pharmacist interventions, ranging from adherence aids and counseling to therapy change recommendations. It also demonstrates the wide variety of patients who can benefit from these interventions, ranging from those living with cancer to those living with diabetes.
  2. In your opinion, what is the most interesting finding from your research?
    Suprina: The vast majority of our patients required adherence-based interventions. This did not surprise me, but it does shed light on the important role of a health system specialty pharmacy services team. When we closely monitor the time between fills, the directions of the therapy, and patient injection techniques, we are able to make these interventions proactively. This not only saves the patient from anxiety surrounding their medication regimen, but it also reduces healthcare costs related to misfires of biologics, aborting therapies that could be causing treatable adverse events, or overutilizing an as-needed therapy.
  3. How does this study advance the health system specialty pharmacy practice?
    Suprina: This study shows that health system specialty pharmacist interventions can directly benefit patient care and outcomes. Because of their access to the EHR and the trusting relationships they can build working as part of the care team, our locally-embedded pharmacists are better positioned to implement and recommend interventions. They can also make these interventions between office visits, which allows us to help patients more proactively.
  4. How do you hope your findings are used by other pharmacists?
    Suprina: As pharmacists, we can be hesitant to make recommendations based upon our knowledge. This may be due to concerns about provider push-back or a feeling that we are overstepping our role. This study shows that we should not feel this way. Our recommendations can make a difference, and it important that we feel empowered to make them! There will always be recommendations that are not accepted by the provider – and that is okay. So long as our interventions are backed by literature, guidelines, and clinical knowledge, we should continue to build relationships and make these suggestions to our providers.
  5. What advice would you offer other pharmacists who are interested in conducting research studies?
    Suprina: If you are conducting your practice in a novel, innovative, or exciting way, the pharmacy community wants to hear about it. We want to see case studies that demonstrate how our services benefit patients. We want to read about your methods for collecting information that is difficult to gather from patients. Take the leap, because you never know what other pharmacy team has wondered about the question your research study answers.

Want to learn more? Watch the on-demand webinar featuring this outcomes research study.