“Aurora Pharmacy set another record in 2015 in terms of number of services provided across the different MTM programs,” says John Gates, vice president of Aurora retail pharmacies. “This includes the day-to-day adherence monitoring, device training and other cost-saving interventions.
“Another aspect of MTM is providing comprehensive medication reviews to patients in need. Our pharmacists are particularly focused on patients transitioning from hospital to home and on those with multiple chronic medical diseases requiring many medications.”
In addition to MTM, pharmacists are demonstrating their expertise in providing clinical pharmacy services to Aurora Health Care patients in clinics and hospitals, Gates says.
Plans for 2016 call for a renewed commitment on providing high-quality pharmacy services, with a focus on the CMS (Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services) Star Ratings related to medication use.
Continuing on the high-trajectory growth trend Aurora pharmacies experienced in 2014, significant attention was devoted to specialty pharmacy again in 2015.
Aurora’s specialty pharmacy gained full URAC accreditation for specialty pharmacy early last year. This accreditation and the concurrent accumulation of experience positioned Aurora’s specialty pharmacy staff to continue its mission to deliver superior care to patients with hepatitis C, cancer, multiple sclerosis and inflammatory conditions, comments Gates.
“Efforts paid off, as growth in the specialty pharmacy segment of the Aurora pharmacy business again exceeded 50% in 2015,” he notes. “In addition, ongoing negotiations with manufacturers, along with our demonstrated expertise in specialty pharmacy patient management, led to Aurora specialty pharmacy gaining increased access to certain limited-distribution medications. These factors will help drive one of our primary goals of 2016 — providing enhanced specialty pharmacy care to a growing patient population.
“Working in a true accredited specialty pharmacy, our pharmacists do much more than simply dispense medication to their patients. Each patient benefits from having a specialty pharmacy coordinator involved in his or her care. Adverse effects, adherence, response to therapy and a consideration of the ‘whole patient’ rather than management of the disease state is the central consideration of the specialty pharmacy model.”
Gates adds that specialty pharmacists routinely communicate the results of regular patient assessments through the use of Aurora’s electronic medical records.
“Pharmacists working in this way are able to alert other members of the health care team to a patient’s needs and coordinate the patient’s access to additional care when needed,” notes Gates. “Additionally, our specialty pharmacists are positioned to provide patients with practical advice on strategies to maintain wellness and the use of nondrug treatments to complement drug therapy.”
In 2015, home health care continued to be a very solid business for Aurora. By contrast, general merchandise continued its decline as Aurora product assortment strategies shifted to focus primarily on the over-the-counter and home health care categories.
Skin care was an unexpected decline, in part due to fewer referrals for specialty skin care lines, resulting in a drop in sales for the category from those in the preceding year.
Aurora recognizes the opportunities to engage consumers via social media and has implemented a strategy to use channels such as Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, YouTube, Pinterest and the company blog to raise the awareness of Aurora’s services as well as to position it as a resource to consumers by providing relevant, topical content.
“Rarely do we post self-promotional content, as we find educational content to be far more effective,” says Gates. “One unique piece of our social media program is our blog (aurora.org/blog), which is filled with articles authored by Aurora clinicians, spanning the gamut of services Aurora offers.”