UNC Best Practices: Transforming Clinical Excellence into Specialty Pharmacy Success

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Specialty Pharmacy By the Numbers

Nine members of the University of North Carolina ambulatory and special pharmacy team shared the best practices that have made their program one of the best in the nation on the Acentrus Clinical Networking Group’s quarterly call on September 1, 2020. Approximately 90 Acentrus members joined the call to learn how UNC is transforming patient care and outcomes.

A leader in integrating clinical and specialty pharmacy practices, UNC has significantly improved patient education, adherence, and outcomes, as well as the performance measures that drive success in specialty pharmacy. UNC team members shared every step of their process, from establishing strong patient support services to building an analytics and outcomes team.

Patients benefit from having clinical pharmacist specialists based in clinics working collaboratively with physicians and midlevel providers to improve medication therapy through interdisciplinary collaboration. However, if clinic pharmacists and specialty pharmacists are not integrated and working in lock step for the patient’s benefit, some of the benefits of the health system-based specialty pharmacy may not be fully recognized. Transforming clinical excellence into enhanced performance for the specialty pharmacy is challenging but well worth the effort. The well-integrated practice model improves patient care outcomes, patient satisfaction, and pharmacy operational and financial performance.

The UNC team described a well-rounded process of meeting patients’ needs where they are, including acute care, post-acute care, and community-based care. Having a full-service ambulatory pharmacy and specialty pharmacy program enables the health system to provide total care, all from within the hospital and health system. Meeting patients’ needs across the continuum of care requires a well-rounded pharmacy program with knowledgeable board certified pharmacist practitioners, access to limited distribution drugs and payer networks, complete patient benefits analysis and support, strong patients assistance program, and an experienced management team to provide direction and support the needs of the staff and care givers.

Although the patient is the center of focus for the UNC team, there is also a strong recognition for operational and outcomes data. Pharmacy analytics and outcomes services are very important to the success of the program. Centralizing pharmacy data sources helps demonstrate the value of health system pharmacy services. System standardization and documentation of core pharmacy metrics and key performance indicators is critical. Utilizing regularly scheduled reports and dashboards provides a near real-time look at data via summarized metrics and thus provides important actionable information.

The team emphasized the role of clinic-based pharmacists who, as advanced practice providers, work closely with physicians in ordering therapies and tests. UNC’s clinic-based pharmacists and specialty pharmacists also work together closely to create a seamless patient experience and strong analytics foundation. Recognizing that it was sometime unclear whether the clinic- based pharmacist or the specialty pharmacy-based pharmacist had responsibility for certain functions, a quality improvement process was implemented to assure clear and shared roles and responsibilities in patient education, documentation, prior approvals, and appeals and patient management. Clearly recognizing functions and responsibilities of staff and enhancing communication with the patient and/or family members resulted in improved care and better demonstration of care in meeting accreditation requirements.

UNC shared how this integration has made a difference with oncology patients receiving oral chemotherapy. Patient education increased from 43% to 95%, while the medication adherence rate for hematology oncology patients increased to 94%.

Other enhancements include:

  • Improved accreditation audit compliance
  • Increased patient care time for clinic-based pharmacists
  • Decreased turn-around time with streamlined patient care
  • Improved provider satisfaction and collaboration between pharmacy and clinic
  • Improved patient satisfaction

If you would like to learn more about the UNC presentation or the Clinical Networking Group, contact Acentrus Account Implementation Manager Burnis Breland at Burnis.Breland@acentrusrx.com or 469-299-7243.

Burnis D. Breland, M.S., Pharm.D., FASHP
ABOUT THE AUTHOR | Burnis D. Breland, M.S., Pharm.D., FASHP
Burnis is an expert resource in health system specialty pharmacy with more than 30 years of experience in the field. As an Account Implementation Manager for Acentrus Specialty, he works with our network health systems and hospitals to implement specialty pharmacy solutions that deliver exceptional value for providers, patients, payers, and manufacturers.