It’s no secret that one of a specialty pharmacy’s biggest challenges is managing treatment outcomes. For individuals with chronic health conditions like rheumatoid arthritis or hepatitis, adhering to the doctor’s orders is non-negotiable for maintaining and improving health. Unfortunately, despite this blaring necessity, the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) continue to cite depressing statistics like 50% of patients failing to adhere to their medication regimen. Up to 30% of prescriptions are never even filled!
Specialty pharmacists are in a very unique – and very powerful – position to use patient-centered approaches for breaking down the walls that stand between patients and their long-term health. As a medication expert, a specialty pharmacist often serves as a strong and uniting link between an individual and his or her physician. By educating, building relationships, and communicating strategically, specialty pharmacies can help equip patients with the tools they need to adhere to their treatment plan and be the healthiest they can be.
Educate, Elucidate, Empower
Specialty pharmacies earn a special reputation for being a source of knowledge, expertise, and support for their customers. In order to get the most out of their treatment regimen, it’s critical for individuals to get the facts. They should understand their condition, how it can be improved by proper treatment, how it can degrade without proper treatment, and the specific goals of their individual care plan (just to name a few).
Clarifying basic misunderstandings or gaps in information is a first step to empowering patients and improving behaviors. For example, a multiple sclerosis patient may be unaware that the treatment goal is reducing symptom severity and relapse frequency, as opposed to curing the disease. When speaking on the phone or conducting in-person meetings and follow-ups, specialty pharmacists have a golden opportunity to exercise their abilities as skilled communicators, investigating the need for information and delivering it in accordance.
Ditch the Cookie-Cutter Care Plan
We don’t need to tell you that every patient is different. Some people have access to a wealth of information to self-educate, while some simply may not. Some people will be actively involved in their care plan, while some will wait passively as their physicians tell them what to do. Some people are tech-savvy and responsive to digital engagement, while some don’t know how to turn on a smartphone. It’s your unique call to action as a specialty pharmacist to identify and address these potential care obstacles on an individualized level. Cookie-cutter healthcare just doesn’t cut it anymore.
Tapping into Technology
As we advance into the 21st century, technology will play an increasing role in managing outcomes. Many physicians and specialty pharmacies have seen results with tools like refill reminders via text message or email and automated medication administration. We’re seeing a huge boom in the development of special apps, platforms, and systems related to telemedicine, connected health, mHealth, wearables, and the like. These innovators are looking to take a modernized, streamlined, and digital approach to communicating with customers on a very personal level.
As communication continues to become more and more complex, specialty pharmacies see a critical need to connect with their customers on a more personal – and more effective – level. What strategies do you use to improve outcomes? Share with us.