Does Your Data Tell a Story: Translating Data Reporting in Specialty Pharmacy


In an ideal world, how would you hypothesize that technology might be able to solve all of your problems?

In an ideal world, how would you hypothesize that technology might be able to solve all of your problems?

That was the main question posed by Matthew Malachowski, PharmD, BCPS, supervisor of specialty pharmacy services at the University of Alabama at Birmingham (UAB) hospital, during a workshop held at the Therigy Health System Symposium 2019, held August 1-2 in Orlando, FL.

With specialty pharmacy becoming more dependent on data than ever before, use of data and analytics reporting technologies can help make your operations more efficient. However, according to Malachowski, there’s no quick and easy fix, and health system specialty pharmacies must learn how to better utilize and leverage clinical data systems to their advantage.

Furthermore, what does your data mean to your institution? How do they differentiate you from others? And most importantly, does your data tell a story? Whether you’re seeking accreditation, trying to validate your services to leadership, or working to obtain payor contracts, these are all crucial questions to consider.

In the workshop, Malachowski highlighted best practices in operationalizing and translating data reporting through a peer case study of the hepatitis C virus (HCV) program at UAB.

“How do you translate patient care into the activities and how do you do it without adding friction to your ability to provide patient care?” Malachowski asked.

The answer: discipline and decision-making. Malachowski recommended going through the parts of the system with your pharmacy team to determine what each piece means to your institution.

“The other piece of actually sitting down with your pharmacist and having the conversation of ‘When I click this box what does it mean? What’s the next part of the decision tree?’” he said.

According to Malachowski, UAB started with their HCV patient management program using Therigy because it incorporates some of the most important pieces of the platform’s functionality, such as labs, discontinuation surveys, and adherence. This kind of reporting can help you further drill down into key data and translate it to improve clinical outcomes while demonstrating that your pharmacy is practicing appropriately.

Additionally, use of data and analytics can help further validate your staff’s work and prove that the team is doing their job, which can provide a backstop if your pharmacy needs additional resources.

“If our [HCV] pharmacist comes to us and says I need more help, well I can prove that they’re working their hardest,” Malachowski said. “This helps support the boots on the ground.”

Using data to make informed changes to how your pharmacy operates can also further enhance patient care. When noticing fluctuation in the loss to follow up on SVR12, particularly around the holidays, he noted that being able to pinpoint a number helped the staff to develop a plan may help to improve follow-ups during this time.

Using data to demonstrate differentiation is key, particularly for obtaining additional payor contracts.

“One of the things that most of the payors are going to ask for is: We want your utilization,” Malachowski said. “We want your initial [polymerase chain reaction] viral loads, we want your different genotypes, and we want your treatments split out by genotypes.”

Not only can you drill down on these data points, but you can use them to effectively tell your story. For patients with a high viral load, do they fail treatment more often? For patients with a specific genotype, do they fail therapy more often? What does your demographic look like?

“If you’re documenting it appropriately in the program, you can pull it out,” Malachowski said. “If you’re not documenting it appropriately in the program, it does not exist to begin with.”

He added that it all begins with operational use of the program. Once that is set up, then you can use that to manipulate each report to speak differently to various sections of your leadership team.

What kind of impact did you make with your pharmacists and can you tell that story? Information such as a patient’s treatment history, missed doses, and adverse effect mitigation can help you demonstrate value in this way, but understanding how to present those data is also especially important.

As Malachowski said in the workshop, “It’s not easy by any means, it’s not quick. But there’s nobody better equipped to do it than you.”

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