Specialty Pharmacists Get a Seat at the Table

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The goal is to deliver the right care at the right time, and by joining the broader care team, specialty pharmacists are playing a key role in making that happen.

Specialty pharmacists treat patients with chronic diseases like multiple sclerosis. They spend a lot of time on patient education, answering questions and managing side effects. They guide patients through the day-to-day aspects of treatment.

Specialty pharmacists are doing this work by “using some of the better, more reputable, reliable, credible sources of information,” said Julie Fiol, Associate Vice President of Clinical Innovation and Strategy at the National Multiple Sclerosis Society.

Fiol joined Surescripts Clinical Product Advisor Cecelia Byers in September at the annual conference of the National Association of Specialty Pharmacists (NASP) to discuss pharmacists’ evolving role in healthcare. (The webinar is available for NASP members.) And Fiol and Byers recently continued their conversation on the Pharmacy Podcast Network.

The work of specialty pharmacists isn’t easy:

  • Patient onboarding and prescription fulfillment take extra care and expertise for specialty medications
  • Outdated technology and manual work make it harder to collaborate with other members of the care team
  • Specialty medications are expensive and often require special handling

Specialty pharmacists can overcome these challenges by fusing patient advocacy with healthcare technology. This gets patients to therapy faster.

Care teams go multidisciplinary

It takes everyone: doctors, nurses, specialty pharmacists and pharmacy technicians. This list is not exclusive.

“It’s worth emphasizing the multidisciplinary care team,” Fiol said at NASP. A multidisciplinary team is crucial for the comprehensive management of multiple sclerosis.

Multidisciplinary teams include specialty pharmacists

Fiol says that we’re seeing more specialty pharmacists on the broader care team in recent years—and they know how to advocate for patients.

“They’re helping people stay on their therapies,” she said. “They’re helping with adherence. They’re helping people understand side effects and how to effectively manage them.”

Specialty pharmacists embrace technology

Access to clinical intelligence, seamless communication channels and optimized workflows give pharmacists control over an accelerated specialty medication journey. This means faster access to therapy for the patient and better clinical outcomes.

“Yesterday, it was phones and faxes,” Byers said on the podcast, referring to how pharmacists accessed clinical intelligence in the not-too-distant past (and still do today, in many cases). “Today and tomorrow, we have the ability to start getting that information when and where it’s needed.”

Specialty pharmacists need more time to support patients. They also need more control over onboarding and fulfillment. More time and more control mean the right care at the right time.

Go deeper on how we’re improving the specialty medication journey.

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