VALLEY FORGE, Pa. – Nearly 80% of hospital pharmacists look forward to a greater role in health care and are well positioned to take on an expanded role, according to new research sponsored by AmerisourceBergen. The research, a part of AmerisourceBergen’s first-ever Pharmacy Check-Up: Activity and Barriers to Care Analysis, examined various pharmacy settings, including hospital, chain, independent and specialty pharmacies, to identify barriers to care and understand how their time is being spent. More than 250 pharmacists were surveyed in a study conducted by global research company Maru/Matchbox.
Additionally, AmerisourceBergen directly surveyed ambulatory pharmacies for the newly-released Ambulatory Pharmacy Outlook for Health Systems2018, sponsored by Pharmacy Healthcare Solutions. Evaluating a specific pharmacy segment, the research includes benchmarks and best practices for health systems to further integrate their ambulatory and specialty pharmacy strategies in a margin-compressed environment.
Although these research initiatives explore different aspects of the pharmacy industry, both revealed opportunities for process and technology improvements needed to overcome barriers to care. Streamlining prior authorization and reimbursement processes continues to be a challenge, and all pharmacy segments are focused on building stronger prescriber relationships to improve continuity and quality of care.
“With their proximity to providers, shared access to electronic medical records, and strong commitment to outcomes, health system pharmacies are uniquely positioned to support clinically-integrated care,” said Willis Chandler, president of Health Systems and Specialty Services at AmerisourceBergen. “At AmerisourceBergen, we are seeing manufacturers and payers develop a greater understanding of the value of health system specialty pharmacies that is leading to increased inclusion in distribution networks and payer contracts. As a supply chain partner, we will continue to advocate for health system pharmacies as a site of care and help them address barriers so that patients can realize the full benefit of a coordinated care ecosystem.”
Compared to other pharmacy types, hospital pharmacists are already spending more time on important coordination activities like communicating with healthcare providers, according to the Pharmacy Check-Up survey. While health system pharmacists communicate most with providers, there is a need for even more consistent, transparent dialogue. In fact, 71% of these pharmacists want to build a better relationship with providers. Hospital pharmacists think this relationship will be important in the future; 53% of pharmacists expect to spend more time communicating with providers in the next five years.
The Pharmacy Check-Up research also found that compared to other pharmacy types, hospital pharmacists are also currently spending more time on data-reporting, educating patients on how to take medicine as directed and educating patients on medication safety and side effects. They are spending more time on advanced patient programs like medication therapy management (MTM) compared to other pharmacies, but 60 percent of hospital pharmacists wish they were spending even more time on this type of activity.
While hospital pharmacies are leading the pack in terms of the time they are spending on advanced patient programs, they are experiencing barriers to providing good care. Top barriers are medication availability and time spent communicating with healthcare providers. In addition, many hospital pharmacists indicate lack of staff and bandwidth (82%). This is consistent with findings in the Ambulatory Pharmacy Outlook for Health Systems 2018 report that finds that within the health system setting, pharmacists must fill a disproportionate share of new prescriptions vs. refill prescriptions and manage patients with more complex conditions, medications and compounding needs. As a result, the labor needs are more intensive than in the retail setting.
“Many hospitals within their ambulatory and specialty pharmacies are looking to find ways to deal with staffing constraints, reimbursement compression, product access limitations and contracting with their biggest payers. These are major concerns that are keeping pharmacy leaders up at night. If these barriers can be mitigated, the opportunities for driving new sources of revenue and improved patient outcomes is significant,” said Matt Wolf, group vice president of Pharmacy Healthcare Solutions, a part of AmerisourceBergen. “Health systems should know that they can turn to their distribution partner who can help solve many of these issues.”