Health System Owned Specialty Pharmacy Alliance: A Voice for Integrated Specialty Pharmacies

April 6, 2021
Neil A. Gilchrist, PharmD, MBA, BCPS, DPLA

Health System Owned Specialty Pharmacy Alliance issues open letter outlining three needed industry actions to improve patient care and outcomes.

Millions of high-touch patients, thousands of biopharmaceuticals, and hundreds of complex diseases and health systems that prescribe therapies. Integrated specialty pharmacies connect all of these to touch the lives of millions of patients and their loved ones every day. As the number of integrated specialty pharmacies continues to rise nationwide so too does their impact on patient care and outcomes, all within their own communities.

How can this critically important sector continue to sustain the care model that improves patient outcomes? The industry has finally found the best way to answer that question: by organizing and unifying the voice of the burgeoning integrated specialty pharmacy sector so it can focus on establishing its own industry best practices and benchmarks, support patient access, and address health equity.

The nonprofit, collaborative called the Health System Owned Specialty Pharmacy Alliance (HOSP) was established to focus solely on, and to become, the face and voice of this sector. It recently released an open letter to health systems across the industry, which outlines 3 needed actions to improve patient care and outcomes.

HOSP, which was founded in 2020, was created in response to the growth of the health system-owned specialty pharmacy industry and the growing need for specialized coordinated delivery of specialty therapies and improved patient outcomes.

HOSP is a network of leading health systems and the businesses that support them that advocate for the better patient care and outcomes associated with fully integrated specialty pharmacy model. HOSP believes that health systems are best positioned to provide the highest quality care to their specialty patients in the outpatient setting in their own communities.

This model of health system integrated care has been on the rise and will only increase in the coming years. Evidence of this can already be seen by the fact that 25% of the 600-plus health systems in the United States have established their own, integrated specialty pharmacies.1 In addition, IQVIA estimated that by the end of 2020, specialty medications would account for nearly 50% of the nation’s drug spending.

Taking these facts into consideration, HOSP believes that a collaborative, integrated specialty pharmacy industry will help reduce fragmented care and health inequities, and also lead to better patient outcomes and reduced total medical expenses.

HOSP has 2 primary near-term goals:

  • To establish specialty pharmacy industry benchmarks and demonstrate how the integrated model of care results in marked improvement in patient outcomes.
  • To be an industry thought-leader, voice, and source for objective information and knowledge-sharing.

Over the long term, HOSP also plans to act as a home to support collaborative research and data. Recently, HOSP published an open letter to the industry in which it explained 3 ways that integrated specialty pharmacies can improve patient care.

1) Development of Industry Benchmarks

Industry-wide benchmarks can demonstrate success and measure performance to further improve patient outcomes. Better efforts must be made to publicize the data that showcase successes, which is what distinguishes integrated specialty pharmacies from other specialty pharmacies.

Sharing data allows for the establishment of metrics that demonstrate value and measure performance. These metrics will help develop industry best practices.

2) Support for Patient Choice and Open Access

Integrated specialty pharmacies deliver exemplary patient care and exceptional patient outcomes because they are best positioned to alleviate barriers to accessing specialty medications. Mandating a patient’s choice of health care provider or access to the drugs prescribed by their physician can result in fragmented care.

Allowing patients to choose care provided through an integrated specialty pharmacy ensures they receive effective care coordination with their medical and pharmacy providers.

3) Prioritization of Health Equity

Last year, there were 365 days of public health, economic, and social injustice crises that changed the world. Research has shown that Black and Hispanic Americans are twice as likely to test positive for COVID-19 as White Americans.2 This demonstration of disparity and health inequity is simply unacceptable and must be addressed with data and action.

To that end, HOSP is committed to prioritizing efforts that demonstrate how issues related to health equity can be positively impacted by health systems that choose to employ the unique capabilities of integrated specialty pharmacies. As a nonprofit network, HOSP membership includes 8 of the nation's leading health systems and other network providers of specialty pharmacy patient care. For more information about the alliance, visit the HOSP website: hospalliance.org/

HOSP general membership is open to any qualified health system that seeks to embrace the organization’s mission. For information about member qualifications, membership dues and how to join visit hospalliance.org/membership/

About the Author

Neil A. Gilchrist, PharmD, MBA, BCPS, DPLA

Chief Pharmacy Officer. UMass Memorial Medical Center

Board Member. Health System Owned Specialty Pharmacy Alliance

References

  1. Drug Channels Institute analysis of ASHP national survey of pharmacy practice in hospital settings.
  2. London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine.