Expert Discusses Breaking Down Silos in Pharmacy Industry Partnerships


Elizabeth Cherry discusses the need to break down silos between manufacturers and health systems specialty pharmacies through more transparent collaboration to better serve patients.

Elizabeth Cherry, PharmD, MMHC, CSP, director of Trade Relations & Market Access at Vanderbilt Specialty Pharmacy, discusses manufacturers and health systems specialty pharmacies to better serve patients. She notes that both sides currently work in silos and try to solve similar problems separately without sharing all relevant information. Successful collaboration requires transparency and both parties being willing to partner. While the core goal of patient care is aligned, more impact could be made through collaborative efforts focused on patient adherence and tailored care approaches as medications increase in complexity.

Capsules medicine and white medicine bottles on table | Image Credit: Satawat -

Image Credit: Satawat -

Q: What does the siloed approach to specialty medication look like, and what are some of the challenges with this approach?

Elizabeth Cherry: In the presentation, we were talking specifically about how manufacturers or industry works in silos versus health systems specialty pharmacy working in silos as well. So that siloed approach is when I feel like we're both trying to solve similar problems, but we may not have all the information. So on the manufacturer side, you have maybe a lot of great resources at your disposal, but not full information, and then on the health system specialty pharmacy side, you have maybe that full visibility into the provider and patient journey, you can understand the barriers and the issues and where we need to apply some solutions, but you may not have all the resources. I think we're trying to solve issues separately from each other, and it's not working out very well. So I think the best way to move forward is to break down those silos were together, and that comes with some transparent, open, and honest conversations about needs on either side, and where you want to move forward in your partnerships.

Q: What does successful collaboration look like for specialty medication care?
Elizabeth Cherry: I think successful collaboration looks like 2 different parties that are willing to partner. I think that that can't be underscored enough because if you are not willing to kind of go above and beyond in your partnerships, it's going to be really difficult to get to a point where where you're actually making meaningful difference, and so if you have 2 willing partners that are able to sit down and transparently have an honest conversation, then you're going to get a lot farther.

Q: How can a more collaborative approach to medication help to benefit patient care and clinical outcomes?
Elizabeth Cherry: When I'm talking to our manufacturer partners, or industry partners, a lot of times we're very much aligned on that core goal, which is patient care, right? So we have that aligned priority, I think really where we can make a big impact is more so on the backend. So the adherence and persistence of the patient journey that the patient on the medication, and really that customized or tailored approach to care, I think, as medications are coming to market, they're more and more complex. And they really require that extra step of, specific, individualized care for that disease state or even that medication.

Q: Are there any challenges or barriers that need to be addressed to foster stronger collaboration between health systems, pharmacies, and manufacturers?
Elizabeth Cherry: What I've seen the most, I think, is that we're really just not speaking the same language when it comes to collaboration or partnerships. In my role as director of trade relations and market access, I try to have a lot of, you know, collaborative conversations with the manufacturers ways that we can, you know, create innovative partnerships, and a lot of times I will bring maybe capabilities to the forefront of the conversation and it just doesn't seem to resonate, and so I think, again, when you're kind of listening, first asking questions as well, then you can kind of get to the crux of what you're trying to communicate and hopefully have a more productive conversation. But I think definitely a better understanding what they need from you, whether that's maybe a business case type of example, or core services versus enhanced services, you have to be able to present that in a way that's manageable for them.

Q: What is the pharmacist’s role in the collaborative approach?
Elizabeth Cherry: I think pharmacists are at the core of the collaboration, they're absolutely seen as the medication experts in the space and they take it upon themselves to really help the patient through kind of handhold that patient through the entire process, post-decision to treat and so I think the they are absolutely an imperative part of that process and getting patient on therapy, keeping them on therapy, and they have the best insight I think into the barriers that that patient may see, and also the solutions that may be the most applicable to them as well. So I think they're extremely important.

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