How To Make the Most Out of Asembia 2017

Specialty Pharmacy Times, March/April 2017, Volume 8, Issue 2

Tips for specialty pharmacy and manufacturer representatives on effectively leveraging your time at the annual Asembia Specialty Pharmacy Summit.

Each year, spring heralds the arrival of the annual Asembia (formerly Armada) Specialty Pharmacy Summit. The significant increase in attendance the event has demonstrated year after year is a testament to the growth of the industry, and the quality content served up at the conference.

However, our industry faces significant challenges in pricing pressures on manufacturers, highly uncertain national insurance policy shifts, and high levels of concern over direct and indirect remuneration (DIR) fees being imposed on specialty pharmacies by Medicare Part D sponsors and pharmacy benefit managers (PBMs). Through this lens, how can Asembia 2017 attendees derive the most value from the event?

Here are a few tips for specialty pharmacy and manufacturer representatives on effectively leveraging your investment in time, and benefit from the networking and educational opportunities.

For specialty pharmacy representatives, large and small:

1. Go with an alignment mind-set focused on care

We maintain that specialty pharmacists have the greatest opportunity to improve outcomes for patients with chronic conditions due to the frequency of direct patient engagement opportunities that support providers who simply do not have the time, and payers who need to derive the highest value from the cost of specialty therapies from improvements in adherence. How do you align often divergent interests?

2. Manage your calendar by starting with the after hour, highest priority meetings

It should come as no surprise, but it bears repeating. Business deals typically do not get done during the day at the Asembia conference. The introductions may happen at that time, but the real advancement or consummation of deals at Asembia gets done after hours. Reach out to your colleagues with whom you have value-based opportunities to schedule coffee, drinks, dinner, or a nightcap. Get them on your calendar as soon as possible.

3. Don’t anticipate meeting with many PBM representatives

Last year’s Asembia event saw the fewest number of PBM representatives attending in recent memory. This is unfortunate, because the gap between specialty pharmacists, PBMs, payers, and manufacturers appears to be widening when the entire care community needs to be coming together. DIR fees will be a hot topic in the background of the event. Identifying solutions for improving outcomes, while keeping specialty pharmacies in business, is going to require an aligned ecosystem-wide effort.

4. Bring your best in innovation

How and what do you offer the community that advances specialty pharmacy in ways no one else does? Be it a widget, process, or system, breaking through the status quo and making a measurable contribution to true patient centricity and outcomes improvement can be the difference between a thriving specialty pharmacy and one that may quickly face its demise in today’s volatile landscape.

For manufacturers:

1. What are your limited distribution partners up to? 

How are your limited distribution partners performing? How are they contributing value across the board? What levels of adherence are they seeing in patients on specialty medications? Are they exploring relationships, or otherwise engaging, with health systems to examine adherence and efficacy in real-world conditions? Are they exploring or implementing innovative, patient-supporting processes or technologies that are intended or, better yet, proven to improve outcomes? If I were a manufacturer representative, these are the questions I would be asking my limited distribution partners, existing and prospective, at Asembia 2017.

2. At-risk contracts 2.0 

The first wave of “value-based” contracts between pharmaceutical manufacturers were purported to be driven by patient outcomes, when in reality many of these agreements cover only 1 drug and/or rely on simple volumetric math as the arbiter of the contract conditions and payment. What should the next iteration of value-based contracts include, and how does a specialty pharmacy advance them to the benefit of all concerned?

What role can, will, or should, specialty pharmacies play in value-based contracts? Again, if I were a manufacturer representative, this is what I would want to know most from specialty pharmacies and service providers seeking access to my therapy in any distribution arrangement, value-based, limited, or open. Based on my role with Curant Health, I will be keeping my ears open for anything I can learn about the state of value-based contracts between manufacturers and PBMs.

3. Bring your top challenges

Based on the drug and disease state, bring your top challenges and be prepared to articulate your goals as succinctly as possible. Which drugs are you willing to take a risk on? At Asembia 2017, seek and find partners in the specialty community capable of mitigating risk and ensuring the efficacy of those drugs. Keep your ears open for new ways to augment patient management, access and support.

When you hear it, insist on validated, metric-driven supporting evidence. How do your prospective partners and industry colleagues work to gauge the patient voice? Does it align with your view of patient centricity, your needs and goals? That’s something I will be keenly interested in hearing from the Asembia 2017 community.

4. Making the most of educational opportunities and the program 

With your value proposition honed, your needs and goals clearly defined, and your top-level meetings scheduled after hours, you will be set to cherry-pick from the multitude of sessions on the program. Pay close attention to the first sessions of the mornings.

While many are slow to rise at Asembia, the early sessions suffer from less of an attendance crush, and provide those who do attend an outstanding opportunity to engage in a direct, meaningful way with the speakers and panelists that the most heavily attended, prime-time sessions simply cannot. For any interested in improving the intergration of health care systems and accountable care organizations, I will be leading a discussion on this topic on May 3 at the Asembia Specialty Pharmacy Summit 2017. â—†

About the Author

Marc O’Connor is chief operating officer for Curant Health. Curant Health treats patients nationwide through its medication management protocols, including medication reconciliation and establishment of personalized medication regimens, and supports its provider partners and care coordination with its award-winning EHR, MedPlan. Curant’s health care professionals provide individualized care proven to improve the lives and reduce the overall healthcare costs of chronically ill patients.curanthealth.com twitter.com/CurantHealthlinkedin.com/company/curant-health