Data Is in the Driver’s Seat: Becker’s Podcast Spotlights the Health System Specialty Pharmacy Difference

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Specialty Pharmacy By the Numbers

Health systems are advancing their specialty pharmacy strategies with a focus on data as the key to strengthening their value proposition. I recently joined two Acentrus clients—Melissa Ortega, PharmD, MS, Director of Outpatient Pharmacy Services at Tufts Medical Center and Tufts Children’s Hospital, and Ruchik Patel, PharmD, Clinical Assistant Professor and Specialty Pharmacy Services Business Coordinator at UI Health—for a Becker’s Healthcare Podcast, Data is in the Driver’s Seat. Highlights of our conversation follow.

How are health systems differentiating themselves from other specialty pharmacy models in the marketplace, and what role does data play in demonstrating that difference?

For Melissa Ortega, there are three key differentiators at Tufts Medical Center: the specialty pharmacy team’s integration with the clinical team, the medical center’s specialty pharmacy accreditations, and a strong focus on gathering, analyzing, and acting on outcomes data.

“The integration of care allows us to access and communicate data quickly,” says Ortega. “We are fully accredited in specialty pharmacy, so reporting data metrics is a required part of our operations. Now, through a focus on outcomes data, we are ensuring that patients receive the medications and care they need.”

Ruchik Patel emphasizes the importance of demonstrating value through data. “We’re using data to showcase the problems we’re solving for all stakeholders,” he says. “Our objective is to demonstrate how we’re improving and accelerating the complicated specialty pharmacy process. We’re asking what questions we need to answer with data and working to collect and share results with health system leadership, manufacturers, and payers.”

Sharing data internally is crucial to understanding operations and opportunities, but how do health systems leverage data externally to raise awareness of the health system specialty pharmacy value proposition?

“Data is how we tell our value story,” says Ortega. “And that’s how we will break down barriers and gain access to limited distribution drugs and restricted payer networks. Acentrus has helped us to automate data collection. Doing it on our own was a cumbersome process. With Acentrus, we break that time in half.”

Patel describes a similar focus and strategy at UI Health. “We have doubled down on our efforts to define what differentiates a health system specialty pharmacy, which is the integration of patient care from A to Z,” he says. “Health systems are uniquely positioned every step of the way, and we need to showcase this unique value and raise awareness of how our patient experience is different.”

Outcomes data reporting is essential to demonstrating the health system specialty pharmacy difference. How are health systems coming together to raise awareness of their value with manufacturers and payers?

For both Ortega and Patel, the answer is a shared software platform that aggregates data from a variety of sources, including electronic health records, to document the patient experience at a granular level.

“The key is how we use data collaboratively,” says Ortega. “We must mobilize our efforts to understand not only our own operations, but also our collective outcomes. I’m excited about what we’re doing as a network to identify and communicate our health system specialty pharmacy differentiators.”

Patel also emphasizes the importance of the academic medical centers that are working together toward this goal. “We are using new tools and software to aggregate data and look at this data through one lens,” he says. “The goal is robust reporting on a single platform that showcases how the health system specialty pharmacy model delivers a better result.”

In Conclusion

Health systems specialty pharmacies are coming together in unprecedented numbers to share data, develop best practices, and raise awareness of the value they offer, first and foremost to patients and their physicians, but equally so to manufacturers and payers.

Through initiatives such as the Therapy Specific Outcomes Coalition (TSOC), Acentrus is working with data partner Loopback Analytics to gather real-world evidence, conduct research, and, ultimately, drive a transformation in specialty pharmacy as the industry moves toward a model of care that is comprehensive, integrated, cost-effective, and patient-focused.

Dennis Sinclair, PharmD, RPh
ABOUT THE AUTHOR | Dennis Sinclair, PharmD, RPh
Dennis Sinclair, PharmD, RPh, has more than 40 years of pharmacy experience and serves as a Regional Account Director for Acentrus Specialty. He has held numerous leadership positions in hospital and specialty pharmacy, with a focus on providing patient-centered, cost-effective care.