The process of accreditation for a specialty pharmacy may be a challenge in terms of resources and time, but it will pay off in the long term.
If you have recently filled out a request for proposal (RFP), you will see one question that comes up over and over—“What accreditations does your organization have in place?” If your organization is not accredited with any of the major players, you could instantly lose out on future business growth opportunities.
There are challenges when determining the return on investment for an accreditation. It takes many hours of dedication to apply, document new standard operating procedures, and implement improvements to your operations. Some companies find this more challenging because they have employees who wear many hats. Pulling them from operations and management duties can be a challenge. There are consulting resources available that can help support these efforts so that they don’t have a negative impact on your daily production and business development initiatives.
Despite the challenges, however, several competitive advantages are created by becoming accredited. One advantage is your access to future RFPs and business growth. This is also important when considering contract renewals for existing business. When it comes time to renew a contract, you may have to get an accreditation in order to keep the contract.
This has just happened to several pharmacies who are involved with Blue Cross Blue Shield of North Carolina, which was mandating that specialty pharmacies become URACaccredited. The deadlines were tight but achievable. However, if pharmacies were not prepared and didn’t budget for these expenses, it could have been a real challenge for their organizations. Accreditation requirements are becoming the trend for other major payers as well, particularly for access to specialty pharmacy preferred network contracts.
A second advantage is the quality improvement management that most of the accreditations have as part of their programs. These quality improvement management programs help you improve your operations and customer service, decrease costs, and make your organization a better company. They can also create an atmosphere of creativity for your employees by fostering improvements and preventing service issues.
However, for some pharmacies, change can be difficult and employees may view the accreditation process as an insult to their performance. In these situations, use the accreditation process to give these employees an opportunity to “take ownership” of the pharmacy’s way of doing business, and encourage them to work hard at the important job of accreditation.
Disaster Recovery and Planning
Another competitive advantage to accreditation is proper disaster recovery and planning. This is something that most accreditations will review during the inspection. It will help you prepare your organization for natural disasters and other problems that could bring your business to a screeching halt—and leave your patients without the critical therapies they need. Some organizations put off disaster management. They play the odds that something won’t happen.
There are recent examples of organizations that were properly prepared for disaster recovery. Hurricane Katrina in 2005 is a prime example of a natural disaster where pharmacies needed to be prepared, both for the event and for the recovery from it. While power was out and transportation across the Deep South was difficult, those pharmacies that were prepared—and had a strong disaster management and recovery plan in place—were able to continue servicing their patients during the chaos that ensued after the hurricane. They were able to continue their business operations, and it instantly gave them a competitive advantage to win business during the disaster and into the future.
Become a Leader
Accreditation will hold an organization accountable on several levels. One way it does this is by forcing an organization to review and implement new policies and procedures as the industry evolves. It guides an organization to continually improve its operations. This guidance can help your organization become a leader in specific services and products. Accreditation will also get you recognized by key decision makers and improve the influx of RFPs, thus assisting in growing your business.
While accreditation was once optional for pharmacies in the specialty pharmacy market, it is increasingly becoming a required component for most RFPs issued by payers and pharmaceutical manufacturers. Several different accrediting agencies have programs specific to specialty pharmacy. Four of the most commonly seen specialty pharmacy accreditation programs are from Accreditation Commission for Health Care (ACHC) (www.achc.org), URAC (www.urac. org), The Joint Commission (TJC) (www.jointcommission.org), and Community Health Accreditation Program (CHAP) (www.chapinc.org). If you are considering accreditation for your specialty pharmacy, take time to review the aforementioned options, and others, before making your decision. SPT
Logan E. Davis, PharmD, is director of clinical services at Vital Care Rx, a specialty and infusion pharmacy provider based in Meridian, Mississippi. He earned his doctor of pharmacy at Samford University’s McWhorter School of Pharmacy in 2008, and is currently pursuing an MBA at Mississippi State University’s College of Business and Industry. Vital Care Rx is an integrated specialty pharmacy and home infusion provider and the founding pharmacy of Vital Care Home Infusion Services, a franchise home infusion organization with approximately 80 pharmacies in 17 states.
Quintin Jessee, RPh, BSPharm, is a senior consultant at D2 Pharma. He specializes in accreditation support including project management, policy and procedure creation, training, and audit preparation. He also works on cGMP compliance for organizations and enhancing or building medical facilities. Mr. Jessee was formerly the vice president of Mail Order and PBM Operations for BioScrip Pharmacy. Other positions with BioScrip included serving as the director of quality assurance, compliance and training, pharmacist in charge, and special projects manager. Mr. Jessee has been involved with the implementation of MTM programs as well as accreditations for Joint Commission, VAWD, VIPPS, URAC, and NABP DMEPOS. He oversaw the implementation and acquisition of DrugStore. com’s pharmacy business and redevelopment of the e-commerce site. Mr. Jessee also mentors pharmacy students at Ohio Northern University School of Pharmacy where he graduated and received his Bachelors of Pharmacy. He is a Registered Pharmacist in Ohio and Tennessee and currently resides in Columbus, Ohio.