Investigator Insights: Expanding the Role of Specialty Pharmacy Liaisons

Published 10/18/2021
by Kathryn Edwards

In advance of Trellis Rx’s upcoming Expert Review of Recent Health System Specialty Pharmacy Research Studies webinar series, we’re sharing perspectives and takeaways from the pharmacist and pharmacy liaison investigators who will present their studies and findings.

A pharmacy technician by training, Britt Sager serves as a Director of Customer Success at Trellis Rx. Her research study, which was co-authored with Advance Team Specialty Pharmacy Liaisons Sarah Mehaffey and Rusty Hammonds, assessed how teams of specialty pharmacy liaisons and pharmacists embedded in health systems can impact patient care and outcomes. Specifically, the study analyzed the number and type of intervention tasks triggered for pharmacists by an advanced specialty pharmacy technology platform as a result of data collected during pharmacy liaison patient touchpoints. The interventions subsequently completed by pharmacists were also reviewed.

Want to learn more? Register for Trellis Rx’s CE webinar on October 19 at 1 p.m. ET.

  1. Why did you choose to investigate this topic?
    Britt: I noticed that specialty pharmacy liaisons were frequently driving additional interaction between patients and pharmacists as a result of our daily activities, such as contacting patients to coordinate medication refills. I wanted to investigate the clinical value we create even though we ourselves are not clinicians.
    Sarah: I wanted a quantitative way to show others that the relationship between a pharmacist and their pharmacy technician is vital to positive patient outcomes. I also wanted pharmacy technicians to know that they can step outside of the cleanroom or from behind the counter and really play an active role in patient care.
  2. In your opinion, what is the most interesting finding from your research?
    Britt: The volume of interventions generated as a result of work being done by specialty pharmacy liaisons. I suspected data collected by specialty pharmacy liaisons was helping drive pharmacist interventions, but I was surprised by how frequently this occurs. In total, more than 4,200 intervention tasks were triggered during the study timeframe, with the most common category being adherence. Top interventions completed by pharmacists as a result of the tasks included adherence aids, disease/drug education, and lifestyle.
    Sarah: The regular conversations we have with patients play an important role in proactively identifying problems patients are having. Forming relationships and building trust with patients allows them to be more forthcoming with health- and medication-related issues. We can then immediately connect patients with our pharmacist counterparts to ensure they receive timely interventions and support.
  3. How does this study advance the health system specialty pharmacy practice?
    Britt: This study underscores the importance of health system specialty pharmacies having regular patient engagement and touchpoints. It also shows how expanding the role of specialty pharmacy liaisons can empower them to play a more active part in patient care, providing pharmacists with additional support and helping improve patient outcomes.
    Sarah: As Britt mentioned, this study advances the practice by showcasing how expanding the role of the pharmacy technician can benefit patients. Empowering pharmacy technicians to practice at the top of their license allows them to see both how they play an active role in enhancing patient outcomes and the value of their role in healthcare.
  4. How do you hope your findings are used by other pharmacists or pharmacy liaisons?
    Britt: I hope our findings show specialty pharmacy liaisons that our value extends beyond helping patients access and adhere to their medications. When embedded in health systems, our frequent communication and strong relationships with patients also create early opportunities for patients to get proactive support from pharmacists to address clinical issues and to voice needs they might not otherwise share until their next appointment.
    Sarah: I would like for pharmacists to apply our findings to empower the pharmacy technicians on their team to play a more active role in patient care. I also hope that pharmacy technicians view this study and realize the value in their role and get excited about the different ways they can assist in improving patient outcomes.
  5. What advice would you offer other pharmacists and pharmacy liaisons who are interested in conducting research studies?
    Britt: Include your pharmacy liaisons! Our clinical model at Trellis Rx is driven by teams of specialty pharmacy liaisons and pharmacists who are embedded within health systems. When research studies are focused on clinical outcomes, there is always an opportunity to identify how the efforts of your pharmacy liaisons are supporting those outcomes.
    Sarah: Do not be afraid of expanding your role! There are many ways you can assist your pharmacist that allow you to deepen your interactions and involvement with patients. Collaborate with your pharmacist and discuss how you can take on additional responsibilities to support them and help enhance patient outcomes. Most importantly, don’t ever think you are “just a pharmacy technician!” Your role is vital and important to improving patient care.

Want to learn more? Register for Trellis Rx’s CE webinar on October 19 at 1 p.m. ET.