Accelerating Specialty Prescribing Through Automation

Automation can lessen the administrative burden on providers and accelerate specialty prescribing and dispensing to provide patients with quality care the moment they need it.

Imagine being told by your physician that the health condition you’ve been diagnosed with requires medication, but you won’t be able to start treatment for up to a month. For many patients, this delay often raises questions and causes confusion, adding weeks of uncertainty while waiting to begin treatment.

Too often, this is the case for people living with conditions that require a specialty medication. For the health care professionals responsible for their care, collecting and transmitting detailed patient information through outdated, manual administrative processes can create clinician burden and burnout, subsequently delaying the time it takes to go from a patient's initial diagnosis to starting treatment.

A recent survey of specialty pharmacists and prescribers of specialty medications confirmed these challenges. Approximately two-thirds of specialty prescribers (65%) and almost three-quarters (73%) of specialty pharmacists agree that the leading cause of delay to get patients started on their specialty medications are the outdated processes and paperwork required for prior authorization.

To support both providers and patients through the specialty medication journey, we must first understand the challenges they face and implement automated, technology-driven processes that streamline workflows, close patient health information gaps, and accelerate specialty time to therapy.

Missing patient information causes critical delays

To provide the best care possible, health care professionals must be equipped with comprehensive information about their patients. According to specialty pharmacists and prescribers of specialty medicines, improper or incomplete data are the top impediment to gaining prior authorization for specialty prescriptions and can delay the delivery of patient medication. Further, 64% of specialty prescribers and 70% of specialty pharmacists see missing patient information as a barrier.

However, new technology solutions are making a positive impact on the specialty experience. Tools are available that can enable pharmacists to retrieve clinical information directly from the patient's electronic health record (EHR) without the need to contact the prescriber. These technology solutions reduce the time it takes to fill prescriptions, decrease phone calls to prescribers for missing clinical data, and improve dispense rate.

Time to therapy should be faster, especially for specialty medications

Both prescribers and pharmacists believe it should take less time to get patients on new specialty therapies—ideally 1-2 weeks. Yet, just 22% of prescribers and 33% of pharmacists say that the current system meets this timeline, with obtaining prior authorization named as the top impediment to starting patients on a new specialty therapy.

With automated tools such as electronic prior authorization, health care professionals can expedite prior authorizations in real time, at the point of care, while also delivering the insights needed to ultimately fill prescriptions faster.

Other technology, including enhanced clinical intelligence and real-time prescription benefit, can also simplify how health care professionals access patient information. This allows for better informed conversations around diagnosis, treatment, and prescribing.

These tools also give providers the ability to identify medications that do not require prior authorization at the point of care, further expediting the time it takes for patients to begin therapy and reducing the cost of prescriptions. The more processes we can automate, the better we can reduce inefficiency and benefit both providers and their patients.

Accessing patient information is a top job stressor for pharmacists and prescribers

For pharmacists and prescribers alike, the responsibility of accessing and processing patient information is not only time-consuming but disruptive to their workflow, contributing to provider burnout. Many providers find that these administrative burdens reduce the time they are able to spend serving patients.

Additionally, 1 in 5 physicians intend to leave their practice within 2 years, and one-third of health care workers planned to reduce their work hours, which has the potential to make the time-consuming administrative tasks required for specialty prescribing and fulfillment an even more pressing issue in the years to come.

With a dramatic shift in the health care workforce on the horizon, it has become increasingly imperative that we close the gaps in patient health information. Through automation, we can accelerate access to specialty treatment, improve the patient care journey, and allow pharmacists and prescribers to reduce and eventually eliminate burdensome administrative tasks that can take attention away from their main responsibility of delivering quality care.

About the Author

Cecelia Byers, PharmD, is clinical product advisor for Specialty at Surescripts.