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With a clear line of sight on the ball, soccer goalies are more likely to defend the goal. I know this because my daughter is the goalie on a team that’s gone undefeated for the last two seasons. This might sound strange, but it makes me think of Specialty Medications Gateway.

I don’t mean to brag or boast about my daughter’s team (as proud as I am). But having a clear line of sight—from soccer balls to patients’ clinical information—can make the difference between a win or loss.

As health information technology for specialty medication fulfillment, Specialty Medications Gateway offers that line of sight.

Walgreens implemented Specialty Medications Gateway in June 2022. Since then, the organization has seen measurable results in specialty prescribing and fulfillment. And that’s not easy to achieve. It’s a complicated process that requires extra care and expertise to get patients started on therapy.

“This platform makes it easier for providers and pharmacists to focus on high-value services that our patients need.”

Jaime Bond, Pharm.D.

Registered Store Manager, Community-based Specialty, Walgreens

A diagnosis of cancer, multiple sclerosis, or HIV will change a patient’s life. But so can the specialty medications that treat these and other serious illnesses. That’s why having relevant information when it’s needed—lab values, for example—is so important to specialty prescribing and fulfillment.

But here’s the challenge.

Specialty pharmacies often lack timely access to this information. Outdated technology and manual processes make it difficult for prescribers and pharmacists to collaborate. And it’s worse with healthcare stretched thin by staff shortfalls and smaller budgets.

“When our specialty pharmacists don't receive the necessary clinical data to create a patient's care plan, they can get it from the prescriber’s EHR via the Specialty Medications Gateway portal.”

Khadijah Khan

Manager, Clinical Pharmacy Strategy, Walgreens

It didn’t take long for Walgreens to reap the benefits of a more streamlined process for specialty prescribing and fulfillment.

  • Rapid adoption: Just 25 Walgreens specialty pharmacies were using Specialty Medications Gateway in the first half of 2022. As of July 2023, most Walgreens specialty pharmacies -- 85% -- have integrated the Surescripts Specialty Medications Gateway into their daily workflow.
  • More information: As the number of Walgreens specialty pharmacies using Specialty Medications Gateway increased, so did the number of documents pharmacists retrieved through the service. In the first half of 2022: 726 documents. The first half of 2023? 7,539.
  • Fewer phone calls: In 2022, 63% of Walgreens specialty pharmacy users reported they avoided phone calls to prescribers because they used Specialty Medications Gateway.

Rapid adoption suggests that people want to use Specialty Medications Gateway, and they’re using it for a reason. The reason is more clinical information (with a 98% patient match rate for Walgreens—meaning pharmacists can find the patients they’re looking for with our Surescripts Network Alliance-powered master patient index).

As Khan said, “Walgreens works with Surescripts because we share the goals of wanting to improve patient care and health outcomes. We’re excited to continually adapt this platform, creating a larger, more connected healthcare team to provide high-quality care throughout our patients’ healthcare journey.”

Because high-value care and high-value services are what matter most for those doing the work, from soccer goalies to pharmacists.

Learn more about the obstacles and opportunities along the specialty medication journey. Check out this data brief for more.

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