ASHP Survey of Specialty Pharmacies Highlights Concerns Over Access to Payer Networks, Interest in Serving New Populations

The American Society of Health-System Pharmacists’ (ASHP) first annual survey of health-system specialty pharmacies (HSSPs) offered insights into the concerns of specialty pharmacists and provided an opportunity for professionals in the field to outline a potential future for specialty pharmacy. Presented at the 2021 ASHP Specialty Pharmacy Conference, the results of the survey indicated anxieties over reimbursement, pride in patient satisfaction, and an interest in serving new populations.

The survey, launched in September 2020, was created with the intention of capturing insights into the state of specialty pharmacy practice within hospitals and health systems. It received responses from 114 unique organizations, including chief pharmacy officers and directors of pharmacy from organizations that might have a specialty pharmacy, leaders in other specialty pharmacy organizations, and all ASHP members.

Respondents were asked to rate potential areas of opportunity for growth on a scale from 1 to 4, with 1 representing low opportunity and 4 representing high opportunity.

“New populations to serve” was consistently ranked the highest area of opportunity by participants, averaging a 3.08 score on the scale. Responses also indicate that serving new therapeutic categories (2.96), direct contracting with employers and manufacturers (2.8), and patient engagement through telehealth technologies (2.71) are seen as areas with the highest potential for growth.

When asked to select their top 3 challenges in the coming year, 82.9% of respondents indicated that access to payer networks was of critical concern. Frequently cited concerns also included changes to the 340B Drug Pricing Program (42.9%), shrinking reimbursement from payers (40%), and access to limited distribution drugs (34.3%).

“There’s been a lot of discussion at the federal level about modifying the 340B program,” said Craig A. Pedersen, PhD, RPh, FAPhA, FASHP, pharmacy manager at Virginia Mason Medical Center and session presenter, during the session. “And that clearly has trickled down to health systems specialty pharmacies being concerned about that.”

Survey participants also indicated their highest priority areas for improvement, with payer contracting ranked highest at 60%. Other areas of priority included improvements in clinical outcomes (38.1%), access to limited distribution drugs (34.3%), reporting abilities (32.4%), and gaining or maintaining accreditation (24.8%).

Responses to the survey also indicated high amounts of confidence in patient satisfaction, with 89.5% of respondents indicating that “patient satisfaction and level of service” was a top point of pride. Also high on the list were medication access and affordability navigation (40%), demonstrating value of specialty pharmacy services (38.1%), and pharmacists embedded in specialty clinics. Lowest on the list were payer contracting (3.8%), infusion services (1.9%), and patient engagement through telehealth (1%).

REFERENCE

JoAnn Stubbings, Craig A. Pedersen. ASHP National Survey Results-Health System Specialty Pharmacy. Presented at: 2021 ASHP Specialty Pharmacy Conference; July 14, 2021; virtual.