Emory Healthcare’s Specialty Pharmacy Service was established in 2016 to meet the needs of patients and providers, in the setting of an evolving healthcare landscape. Specialty medications are typically high cost and complex, often requiring close monitoring and careful management of therapy. A variety of diseases are treated with specialty medications, such as hepatitis C, rheumatoid arthritis, transplant, cystic fibrosis, and cancer.
Many patients with these diseases receive care at academic medical centers due to the complexity of treatment and management of their conditions. Academic medical centers are well suited to successfully provide specialty pharmacy services due to the concentration of specialists, access to electronic medical records, and availability of outpatient pharmacy services
Emory Healthcare has found that by developing a strong in-house specialty pharmacy and reducing dependence on outside for-profit specialty pharmacy, the organization has been able to strengthen adherence, improve patient outcomes, and reduce costs.
In a recent presentation at the Specialty Therapies and Biosimilars Congress, Ryan Haumschild, PharmD, MS, MBA, director of pharmacy for Emory discussed the difficulties Emory perceived with outside specialty pharmacy and the measures the academic health system implemented to ensure better coordination of patient care and follow-up, and reinvest the savings to increase gains.
Emory decided to take these steps after noticing that patients were having problems related to assessment, monitoring, and medicine delivery. Providers in the system were increasingly frustrated with poor outcomes, and these issues were traced to the performance of outside specialty pharmacy.
Emory implemented key improvements, such as increasing the involvement of residency trained, board-certified pharmacists in many aspects of the care continuum. This represented an added expense, and pharmacists with this level of qualification are not easy to recruit, owing to marketplace competition.
Takeaway: Emory Healthcare’s 11 hospitals and 250 sites of care benefitting from the in-house specialty pharmacy