Why Specialty Pharmacy Liaisons Are One of the Most Valuable Care Team Members

Published 10/18/2021
by Kathryn Edwards

In recognition of Pharmacy Technician Appreciation Day, Trellis Rx clinical pharmacist Toni Zahorian, a former pharmacy technician, shares why she believes specialty pharmacy liaisons are one of the most valuable care team members. 

Every day at health systems across the country, specialty pharmacy liaisons provide critical support to patients who require complex, costly medications – and to the providers and pharmacists they work alongside.

These compassionate, knowledgeable individuals help streamline the specialty medication therapy experience for patients and help providers and pharmacists, like me, be more effective in our jobs. Of course, providers and pharmacists are necessary for diagnosing, recommending treatment, prescribing, and educating patients, but if a patient cannot access or afford the medication in the first place, the therapy cannot be effective.

How Specialty Pharmacy Liaisons Enhance Patient Care
I can personally attest to the impact specialty pharmacy liaisons have because I work alongside one in a health system’s gastroenterology clinic. My specialty pharmacy liaison counterpart, Sarah, always goes above and beyond to provide the highest level of care to our patients – and to offer support to me and other providers. Some examples of how Sarah makes a difference include:

  • Preventing delays in critical therapies that could significantly impact a patient’s quality of life
  • Ensuring patients can get the medications they need at a reasonable cost
  • Proactively identifying patient concerns or needs so I can intervene in a timely manner
  • Maintaining an effective clinic workflow that allows both of us to positively impact as many patients as possible

A specific patient story helps bring Sarah’s impact to life. We recently began supporting a 74-year-old patient with Crohn’s disease. Based on disease severity, the patient’s provider recommended he start a biologic therapy. Although the patient’s copay for the medication was high, he did not qualify for the manufacturer’s patient assistance program (PAP). Due to patient’s feelings about treatment at his age and medication cost, he initially decided to decline biologic therapy altogether.

Despite this, Sarah worked to identify other medications that would be more affordable for the patient.  As a result, when the patient changed his mind about biologic therapy after symptoms began impacting his quality of life, Sarah was prepared to help him quickly get started on an alternative therapy approved by his provider. Being familiar with the manufacturer’s PAP requirements, Sarah knew this patient would eventually be approved. As a result, she helped the patient immediately access a starter kit at no cost and arranged an injection training session with me a few days later to start treatment. At that visit, she also worked with the patient to apply to the manufacturer’s PAP, and he was approved just weeks later as expected. As a result of Sarah’s efforts, this patient’s health has improved significantly, and he will be able to continue to afford his therapy over time.

Thanks to Our Specialty Pharmacy Liaisons at Trellis Rx
At Trellis Rx, specialty pharmacy liaisons like Sarah play a key role on the care team, working directly with patients, their providers, and other stakeholders to improve timely access to therapies, resolve medication access issues, and help ensure the best outcomes for patients. It really is a joy to watch specialty pharmacy liaisons working at the top of their license, constantly learning, developing patient relationships, and watching their patients achieve treatment goals. By doing these things, my specialty pharmacy liaison teammates allow me to do the same, which is why I pursued a career in specialty pharmacy in the first place.

Thank you for all that you do!