Accreditations clear way for more chronic disease services
The food and drug retailer said the H-E-B Specialty Pharmacy division has received Specialty Pharmacy Accreditation from the Utilization Review Accreditation Commission (URAC), a Washington, D.C.-based health standards body, and the Accreditation Commission for Health Care (ACHC), a Cary, N.C.-based patient care standards organization.
H-E-B noted that both of these national nonprofit organizations are recognized as “the gold standard” in assessing health care business operations, quality of patient care and services.
“Accreditation is an important milestone in our mission to continuously innovate H-E-B Pharmacy services and better serve our patients when they need us the most,” Craig Norman, senior vice president of H-E-B Pharmacy, said in a statement. “From health and wellness programs to expanded pharmacy offerings, H-E-B remains dedicated to serving the diverse needs of our customers.”
With the URAC and ACHC accreditations, H-E-B can now provide more comprehensive pharmacy services for complex disease states such as auto-immune, hepatitis C, multiple sclerosis and cancer. The supermarket chain already provides home delivery and in-store pickup for medications in its locations throughout Texas.
“In today’s health care market, URAC accreditation provides a mark of distinction for organizations to demonstrate their commitment to quality health care and establish their critical role in the treatment process,” stated Kylanne Green, president and chief executive officer of URAC.
A specialty pharmacy can dispense injectable, intravenous or oral medications in a patient’s home, doctor’s office or clinic that specializes in certain disease states, according to ACHC. Specialty pharmacy services also include disease-specific clinical monitoring and patient compliance and adherence programs.
“We are honored to recognize H-E-B as an outstanding provider of specialty pharmacy,” commented Tim Safley, program director at ACHC, “and we look forward to working with them to promote better patient education and adherence.”
One of the nation’s biggest grocery retailers, H-E-B operates more than 380 supermarkets in Texas and Mexico, including over 260 in-store pharmacies. The company has annual sales of more than $23 billion.
Specialty drugs have been one of the fastest-growing segments of the pharmacy market in recent years and have driven much of the increases in U.S. spending on medications. According to QuintilesIMS, hepatitis C treatments alone represented 3% of the 12% U.S. drug spending growth in 2015, and the past two to three years have seen substantially higher spending on drugs in other complex and chronic disease areas, such as cancer, autoimmune diseases, multiple sclerosis and diabetes.
That growth has led supermarket chains and other mass retailers to boost their specialty pharmacy capabilities in recent years.
For example, in 2015 Meijer Inc. acquired Aureus Health Services, a national specialty pharmacy and health management service provider. Hy-Vee Inc. acquired Omaha, Neb.-based specialty pharmacy company Amber Pharmacy in 2014, and the year before Giant Eagle purchased Cleveland-based Rx21 Specialty Pharmacy.
The nation’s largest supermarket operator, Kroger Co., in late 2012 unveiled a deal to acquire specialty pharmacy Axium Pharmacy Holdings. At the time, Kroger said the addition of Axium bolstered its ability to serve customers who need complex drug therapies and deliver those medication regimens at greater value to customers and insurance payers.