5 Health-System Pharmacy Trends to Watch in 2019

Health system and hospital pharmacies could see more opportunities for revenue recovery for health system and hospital pharmacies in 2019, as well as increased transparency and access to care for patients.

Health-system pharmacies could see more opportunities for revenue recovery in 2019, as well as increased transparency and access to care for patients. At the 2018 American Society of Health-System Pharmacists (ASHP) Midyear Clinical Meeting in Anaheim, CA, a group of advisors from McKesson RxO shared 5 trends they believe will help shape the industry in 2019.


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'Next-door health care' use will rise.

Patients want health care closer to them, and health-system pharmacies are working to expand services into retail sites and medical clinics, through regional and local partnerships with providers. In an interview with Pharmacy Times at ASHP Midyear, Mark Eastham, Senior Vice President of McKesson RxO, said health systems also are beginning to partner with large employers to serve their workforces.

“These employees that are living in these neighborhoods can go to a local clinic and be able to get the services that they’re looking for, instead of having to drive a long way away,” said Eastham.

In addition to having easier access to care for patients, health systems also benefit by having these programs capture information on patients and have the ability to track their care. “Clinically, they’re being treated well, and we know that they’re being adherent to their medication,” Eastham said.

There will be an increased focus on 340B.

Debate is ongoing in Congress over the 340B Drug Pricing Program, raising focus on its performance and compliance for health-system leaders. According to McKesson RxO data, tougher audits and revised guidance for self-disclosure and corrective action plans by the Health Resources and Services Administration has also increased attention.

In an effort to assist pharmacy leaders, and other industry professionals, ASHP and McKesson partnered to develop a handbook that serves as a practical guide to the 340B program.

Tracking and managing data will optimize outcomes.

Data is the cornerstone of treating patients, Eastham said, and sharing that information is critical. “It comes from many different providers in many different areas of that health system,” he said.

The challenge with data, however, it that there is so much of it out there, Eastham added. “Health systems are using disparate systems, and so they’re trying to make sure they can communicate with each other,” Eastham explained.

Pharmacy directors also are facing increasing pressure to utilize data and analytics for optimizing health system pharmacy growth. Tracking and monitoring drug spend and utilization will continue to be top priorities in the coming year, according to McKesson RxO advisors.

Public policy will drive greater transparency.

Providers and consumers are looking for more transparency. However, privacy rights and data security pose challenges. Keeping data secure, but also sharing it with appropriate parties is the goal.

“Consumers are demanding transparency. They want to be able to access their own data. They want to see that data,” said Eastham.

One current issue receiving attention is transparency with drug cost. Having patients understand the cost of medication could be helped by pricing being included in television advertising for drug products.

“Transparency in pricing is very important. I think it’s a good thing,” said Eastham. “At the same time, though, we need to make sure that providers are diagnosing and prescribing the right medications for the right patients.”

Specialty drug spending will grow.

The specialty drug market saw a 16% growth rate in 2018, according to a recent report. Although restricted access continues to be a challenge for health systems in the United States, specialty pharmacies can still generate significant revenue, according to McKesson RxO data.

Eastham said more and more specialty drugs are coming onto the market.

“What's important about them is they target certain disease states,” he said.

According to Eastham, specialty drug spend will continue to grow.