Enbrel. Humira. Sovaldi. Xeloda.
For many people suffering from chronic inflammatory arthritis, gastrointestinal illnesses, and certain cancer diagnoses, medications like these can be highly effective in managing conditions and improving overall quality of life, but also very expensive and challenging to manage at home. Typically, these “specialty medications” are prescribed by clinicians, obtained by patients at a chain store pharmacy or outside specialty pharmacy, and self-administered by the patient at home. In many cases, the patient’s care team is challenged to closely monitor the treatment, and the patient manages the high prescription cost, related supplies, side effects, and other issues that may affect their ability to take the medication as prescribed.
Enter the new Partners HealthCare Specialty Pharmacy. From an unassuming building in Burlington, its staff uses the same Partners electronic health record used by the patient’s care team. The pharmacy staff become an integrated part of the team, helping patients through assessment, monitoring, and management of high-cost drugs. By replacing third-party pharmacies, the Specialty Pharmacy helps ease the expense for patients with free and accessible medical supplies, guidance, and financial assistance services, whenever possible. The dedicated pharmacy team streamlines the complex prior-authorization process for clinical teams, too, reducing costs and paperwork for physicians and practice staff.
“The new Specialty Pharmacy addresses two of our highest priorities in a single initiative,” says Gregg Meyer, MD, Partners Chief Clinical Officer. “First and foremost, it means better medication management for patients. Second, it reduces administrative burden for physicians and practice staff.”
“Right now, we are piloting the program with patients of the Massachusetts General Hospital Department of Rheumatology,” says Michael Carter, RPh, Corporate Director of Specialty Pharmacy. “We added Gastroenterology last month, and plan to add Oncology by March. We will roll out the service to Brigham and Women’s Hospital patients beginning in March, too. In each case, we will be an integral part of the care team coordinating directly with patients and practice staff.”