This blog is the fourth installment of a five-part series on Navigating Your Entry Into Specialty Pharmacy and serves as a step-by-step guide for integrated healthcare systems.
Unlock the Secret to Building a Winning Team in Specialty Pharmacy
A strong team can overcome a lot.
In order for your specialty pharmacy to be successful, the foundation must be a strong team dedicated to patient care.
So, how do you develop a great team that not only supports case therapy management, but also exudes the customer service model? It all starts by making the patient journey the number one focus.
How Hospital Systems Can Compete with Large Specialty Pharmacies
Customer service is one of the biggest differentiators when it comes to the specialty pharmacy (or any) industry.
Unfortunately, hospitals just don’t have the structure departmentally that you would find in traditional specialty. As hospital systems enter the specialty pharmacy industry, they are competing with large specialty pharmacies often serving a great majority of patients. Having outstanding customer service and medication management is vital to hit all the “hot buttons” everyone in today’s specialty pharmacies are pushing.
But don’t fret.
Hospitals have an advantage over standalone specialty pharmacies because they are rounding or visiting the patient before they are discharged from the hospital. They are part of the care team, and your outpatient specialty pharmacy becomes an extension of the care team.
It is important for the patient to go home with their new medication and be reminded when it is time for their refill. A well thought out customer service plan needs to be in place where the patient can discuss side effects with their pharmacist without the feeling of being rushed or burdened. This customer service plan has been developed over decades by the big specialty pharmacies as the gold standard and your specialty pharmacy will need one as well.
In many cases, accreditation like Utilization Review Accreditation Commission (URAC) or Center for Pharmacy Practice Accreditation (CPPA) help mold your customer service too.
Why You Should Have a Clinical Team in Your Pharmacy
In a pharmacy, traditionally, it has been a pharmacist that talks to the patient about the drugs or the disease state. However, in a specialty pharmacy, there are pharmacist, technicians and sometimes even registered nurses (RN) or Licensed Practical Nurse (LPN) working in that role as well.
These clinical programs allow clinical teams to discuss side effect management and potentially life saving techniques with the patient.
So How Many People Do You Hire?
You may be thinking, “Oh my. What do I do?”
Should you hire pharmacists? Technicians? Nurses? How many need to be hired? The simple answer is the one that applies to a lot of questions: it depends.
It depends on your model, on your state, on your location, on your budget and so many other variables. When building out a team, the most important thing to remember is how you can positively impact the patient’s journey.
“How can I make sure that the prescription gets in the patient’s hands with the information that they need to provide them the very best care possible?”
When it comes to building teams there is no secret sauce to it. It requires time to develop a workforce plan.
There are plenty of metrics to consider based on your prescription count and how you scale that workforce plan is based on your growth in different therapies.
One thing that stands out in specialty pharmacy is that people think that if they have different therapeutic areas they can hire the same team, but they can’t. Some take a lot more work than others.
As an example, hemophilia is an area where a lot of specialty pharmacies have their own dedicated nurse or team of nurses to handle the patient population.
Similarly, immunoglobulin (IG) is a complicated therapy requiring a nursing network and supplies. In these instances there are so many things required, including a dedicated team that can manage the multifaceted aspects of care for the patient.
Many hospital systems that use home infusion tend to have an easier entrance into specialty pharmacy. They already know what that high-touch model looks like, especially if they have been servicing the IG population.
They already know they need a nurse and an emergency kit in the home as well as dozens of other various ins and outs. This knowledge provides an advantage to a traditional retailer who is just getting into specialty pharmacy.
When it comes to building teams to support therapy management and customer service, there are so many intricacies involved and the fact is that nobody does it the same way. It is important for hospital systems to customize their model to suit their needs and the needs of their community that they serve.