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To most, May 2020 was the beginning of a new world – one significantly altered because of the coronavirus pandemic. But for Patricia Krause, a product innovation manager at Surescripts, something else was about to change her world. Her husband, Lucas, was diagnosed with multiple sclerosis. "It was completely jolting; this realization that life will be completely different going forward," Patricia shared.

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Patricia and Lucas on their wedding day in 2004

Patricia and Lucas wanted to hit the ground running and treat the diagnosis aggressively. "I got right into it, found him the best specialist that we could find and very quickly dug into what would be the right therapy, based on where he was at," she explained. Patricia also knew more than most about the specialty medication enrollment process from her work experience. But unfortunately, the Krauses would experience the waiting and uncertainty that often comes before a specialty prescription reaches a patient.

Dispensing specialty medications is complex and involves inputs from health plans, patient access programs, specialty pharmacists and prescribers, as well as patients. Nearly 40% of prescribers reported a two-week wait to start the average patient on a new specialty drug. And when this process is done manually via paper forms, phone calls and faxes, inefficiencies spread administrative and financial burdens throughout the system and increase risks of patient non-adherence.

About a week after choosing a treatment plan, the Krauses received the specialty medication enrollment form in the mail, which they signed at home and then physically mailed back to the doctor's office. After that, Lucas needed more lab work and an additional EKG.

Once Lucas was cleared for the treatment, the Krauses needed to have conversations with the provider from the medication’s hub, listen to recordings about these medications' potential side effects, and acknowledge that he was still willing to go ahead. At the same time, the Krauses also navigated the financial assistance process with multiple representatives so that the treatment was affordable.

These steps meant it took over six weeks for Lucas to get on his treatment plan.

"While this was all happening, I kept thinking, 'I actually understand what's going on. I understand why we're going through these steps,' but it was still overwhelming. I experienced first-hand how many and how complex the handoffs were and felt like we were in a black hole of uncertainty. I didn't know how long the process would take or what to anticipate next."

And as Patricia knows from her experience at Surescripts, the future of the specialty medications journey is available today.

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Preventing the Specialty Medication Bottleneck

"That first step into my husband's specialty prescription journey – getting the letter in the mail – didn't need to happen," Patricia pointed out. "Surescripts Specialty Patient Enrollment allows prescribers to go through that process in their electronic health record (EHR). After the prescriber obtains a patient’s authorization to share clinical data with the hub, the data is pulled directly from the patient’s medical record and sent electronically. Instead, we had to send this information back and forth via the mail, which took almost two weeks. With Surescripts Specialty Patient Enrollment, we could have done it within a day."

Technology Built for Prescribers & Specialty Pharmacists

Specialty Patient Enrollment automates the prescribing and fulfillment process by embedding enrollment workflows in their existing e-prescribing workflow and securely sending required information to specialty pharmacies and hubs.

Specialty Medications Gateway lets pharmacists retrieve the clinical information they need to dispense a medication from the patient's electronic health record.

Learn more about these solutions.

Fortunately, Surescripts is transforming the specialty medication journey on a national scale, with innovation and optimization that is driving increased adoption of technology among prescribers, specialty pharmacies and hubs. In 2021, Surescripts saw significant progress with Specialty Patient Enrollment, including a 38% increase in prescribers enabled and the addition of 120 new medications and 14 additional disease states. Multiple Sclerosis is one disease state that’s already available; others include asthma and allergies, growth hormone, Hepatitis B and C and infertility.

And for patients needing specialty medications, the first treatment isn't necessarily the only treatment. Lucas is now going through the specialty enrollment process for the third time. Each time, there have been detours in a process that should – and can – be improved with the use of interoperable technology solutions.

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Two for the Road: Getting ready to take a spin in Patricia's Mazda Miata

Surescripts solutions accelerate specialty prescribing, fulfillment and onboarding by filling information gaps with clinical intelligence. We enhance speed and safety with cleaner, clearer, and more comprehensive patient and medication data.

Because when we simplify specialty prescribing, fulfillment and onboarding, patients can start their medications sooner. And prescribers, pharmacists and hubs can spend less time on paperwork, giving them more time to manage patients' care.

Visit Surescripts.com to learn more about how Surescripts is simplifying the specialty medications process.

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