Adopting a Patient-Centric Approach in Specialty Pharmacy

The healthcare landscape is shifting towards increased personalization and customization, resulting in enhanced complexities and options for medical treatments.

Pharmacies stand as a pivotal example of this dynamic. While in the past, an individual patient would simply take a prescription script to their local pharmacy to be filled, today the landscape looks very different. From the rising competition of independent and chain retail pharmacy locations, mail-order options, and the growing specialty drug development, the entire healthcare process can feel complex and overwhelming to patients who are simply pursuing a solution to help them feel better or address specific symptoms.

Advancements in treatment and therapies has impacted how prescriptions are dispensed, changing the way providers, payers, and the patient interact. Pharmacies stand in the middle of the conversation by dispensing medication to the patient, while navigating the relationship between payer, provider, and manufacturer. Particularly, specialty pharmacies are emerging as a growing sub-category in pharmaceutical care.

According to the National Association of Specialty Pharmacy, a specialty medication may have some or all of the following key characteristics:

  • Dispensed to treat rare, chronic, and/or complex diseases
  • Availability through limited or restricted distribution
  • Special storage and handling requirements such as temperature control or refrigeration
  • Special administration requirements such as injection or infusion
  • High monthly costs
  • Requires additional clinical monitoring and patient education

These drugs treat rare diseases, are specialized gene therapies, or require special training for use. And more of these drugs are entering the market every year being classified under the ‘specialty drugs’ category. This growing sector of treatment is estimated to have dispensed about $176 billion of prescriptions in 2020 according to Drug Channels Institute (DCI), which was an increase of over 9% from 2019 figures. The Commonwealth Fund reported specialty drug prescriptions increased from 21% of retail pharmacy sales in 2007 to 37% in 2017 (with this rapid growth trajectory continuing the last five years).

A key challenge facing pharmacies (and specialty pharmacies in particular) is the ability to quickly perceive and identify how patient experience is impacted by their quality of service. With increasing competition, an already complex health system, and growing patient demand for personalized treatment plans, pharmacies need a reliable source of insights to monitor performance. Tapping into existing patient conversations is one way to do just that. 

3 Ways Conversational Intelligence is Impacting Pharmacy Metrics and Insights

Leveraging unstructured data (data that is qualitative and undefined) is an important way to access insights on current patient experiences, surface areas of concern at a holistic level, and resolve these issues efficiently. Pharmacies rest at a unique intersection of pharma, payer, provider, and patient, so can leverage key metrics and insights to improve quality of care with a seamless customer experience strategy. Leveraging conversational intelligence tools (like AI, machine learning, and NLP) is an important approach to draw meaning from these unstructured, conversational data sources.

Consider 3 ways conversational intelligence can have an impact:

1. Positive patient outcomes

Pharmacies are not only dispensing medication for the patient, but oftentimes tasked with helping to report the status of a patient’s health condition to help support positive health outcomes. Listening to the voice of the patient offers direct feedback in real-time. Listening also helps in reporting adverse drug reactions and can provide actionable insights to ensure Medication Therapy Management (MTM) programs are pursuing the best plan of treatment and support for the patient.

2. Pharmacy accreditation

While there is not a centralized set of standards for accreditation, pharmacies are impacted by independent rating systems (such as CMS or URAC) that provide a baseline used by insurance and pharmaceutical manufacturers for future partnership and distribution. These standards establish a baseline that holds accountability around patient outcomes. Conversational data can help deliver insights on program effectiveness and opportunities for employee training and education to best answer patient questions and concerns.

3. Quality of feedback

Typically, surveys are utilized to gather feedback or identify areas of concern, but with surveys it’s difficult to understand the full picture with limited or delayed responses. Additionally, there’s a key benefit in understanding the needs of all stakeholders from the patient to provider to intermediary PBM to payers to manufacturers, etc. These services intersect and impact how pharmacies interact with patients. Oftentimes a pharmacy is handling conversations to help the patient navigate through these complex steps. Listening to recorded conversations can help identify disruptions and provide clear opportunities to build a patient-centric experience.

Healthcare is shifting beyond simply transactional interactions. To accommodate, pharmacies are seeking  ways to provide meaningful conversations that ultimately drive positive health outcomes. Conversational intelligence can analyze large volumes of data to help identify trends and monitor quality of care over time to help support specialty pharmacy.

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Learn more about how Authenticx analyzes customer conversations to surface recurring trends in this two-minute video.

About Authenticx

Authenticx was founded to analyze and activate customer interaction data at scale. Why? We wanted to reveal transformational opportunities in healthcare. We are on a mission to help humans understand humans. With a combined 100+ years of leadership experience in pharma, payer, and healthcare organizations, we know first-hand the challenges and opportunities that our clients face because we’ve been in your shoes.

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