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Personal Service is Better At Hospital-Owned Specialty Pharmacies

Hospital-Owned Specialty Pharmacies have one significant competitive advantage over the large, national, call-center-based models – Personal Service!

The story below is one that was shared by Michael Agostino in Specialty Pharmacy Times. It is the perfect example of why the patient experience with a hospital-owned specialty pharmacy, and their staff, is so much more satisfying than the traditional call-center model that is familiar to most specialty patients.

Michael’s specialty pharmacy received a first fill referral for an oncology patient on a Wednesday, and the patient’s therapy needed to start on Friday. Because of complications with the insurance, ordering the medication, and the Risk Evaluation and Mitigation Strategy (REMS) program associated with the medication, coordination, the order was not able to be completed until Friday morning. The pharmacist discovered the patient lived close to the pharmacy, so Michael delivered the medication and as a bonus, got to meet the patient and his dog.

Shortly after that, the patient’s next refill came in, but because of new insurance, the pharmacy had to request another prior authorization, which took longer than expected. The dispensing of the medication was then further delayed as the length of time between receiving the prescription and dispensing it was more than seven days, which meant that the REMS program mandated that the physician send a new prescription! The pharmacy contacted the physician, and the patient’s daughter stopped by to pick up the prescription when it was ready. The staff that worked with her father had the chance to meet her and learn more about her dad and the family. With each order, staff was in constant contact with the patient’s daughter to provide status updates on his medication.

Shortly after, the patient’s daughter called to let the staff know that the physician changed her dad’s regimen and tripled his dose. Immediately, the pharmacist contacted the doctor’s office to request a new prescription so they could get the appropriate confirmation and quickly order the medication to be confident that he would receive it in time for his next dose. The staff was just about to contact his daughter for delivery when they received a call from her. She was hysterical and wanted to speak directly with Michael, who had trouble understanding her because she was so upset.

When the daughter was able to calm down, she told him that just minutes ago her father had passed away. She said the reason she called Michael’s pharmacy first was to fulfill a promise she made to her dad. He made her promise that if something happened to him that she would call Michael directly to let him and his staff know how much he appreciated all of our help in getting his medication … and more importantly, caring about him. She said she had to keep her promise to her dad.

The customer service that a pharmacy staffed by hospital employees, who can easily contact doctors, speak in person with patients and access the patient’s medical record for their most up to date results is a superior service model to the large call-center models that the large national chains and health insurers use.

If your hospital is looking for ways to improve profits, improve overall patient care and provide a service to your patients that they aren’t likely seeing with their current pharmacy, then you might want to consider evaluating how a specialty pharmacy might work for you.