NASP Year in Review

Rebecca Shanahan, NASP president and CEO of Avella Specialty Pharmacy, announced the Distinguished Service Award and the Specialty Pharmacy of the Year Award.

For the fifth year, the National Association of Specialty Pharmacy (NASP) Annual Meeting and Educational Conference provided stakeholders with an expansive view of the ever-changing world of specialty pharmacy.

“Right now, specialty pharmacy is the new pharmacy,” Rebecca Shanahan, JD, NASP president and CEO of Avella Specialty Pharmacy, said on September 19 in a NASP year in review session.

Shanahan spoke to stakeholders about the importance of moving forward, despite the hurdles that specialty pharmacies may face.

“For all of us who love to care for patients and the support of their success in therapy, we have lots of challenges that allow us to do a lot of really outstanding things in health care,” Shanahan said.

First, Shanahan discussed the growing role of technology and data, which allows pharmacies to demonstrate their value in the health care world. Technology also provides innovative solutions that help pharmacies overcome known barriers, including those that track and encourage medication adherence.

Since it was National Talk Like a Pirate Day, Shanahan had the audience join together and say “arr” to direct and indirect remuneration (DIR) fees, which are among the largest hurdles faced by specialty pharmacies.

“DIR fees continue to weigh down and jeopardize the patients we serve and ourselves, in terms of the resources we have to support them,” Shanahan said.

In 2017, NASP discussed how DIR fees affect seniors with more than 80 Congressional representatives, in addition to speaking with the Centers of Medicare & Medicaid Services and the Department of Health and Human Services. Importantly, NASP launched StopDIRFees.com to underscore the dangers of DIR fees for patients and specialty pharmacies.

Shanahan also highlighted how specialty drug benefit management is moving towards care coordination, shifted decision making, and outcomes measurement. Nearly 40% of all therapies dispensed are involved with specialty pharmacy with many more in the pipeline, highlighting the need for more aggressive drug benefit management, according to Shanahan.

The results from the NASP Patient Satisfaction Survey were also revealed during the session. The key takeaway from the survey was that the net promotor score was 78.6 for NASP specialty pharmacies, topping the scores for overall health care, according to Shanahan.

Shanahan noted the main drivers of patient satisfaction were:

· Promptness in resolving issues and questions, often with insurance/billing

· Staff listening skills and empathy

· Staff knowledge of disease and medication

These are also areas that other specialty pharmacies may choose to focus on in the future to improve satisfaction, according to the session.

NASP has also made significant efforts to elevate the level of discourse about specialty pharmacy through interviews, editorial content, web campaigns, and through their federal affairs initiative called Educate and Advocate. Shanahan calls on all NASP members to get involved with these efforts in 2018.

For 2018, NASP plans to:

· Advocate on behalf of specialty pharmacy at the federal and state level

· Continue to partner with other pharmacy organizations

· Craft specialty pharmacy performance metrics

· Grow membership

· Continue to focus on education and certification

How members can help NASP in 2018:

· Refine and enhance the benefits of membership

· Develop continuing education and certification programs; increase access to these programs

· Work with National Council for Prescription Drugs Programs and Pharmacy Quality Alliance to define specialty pharmacy-specific performance metrics

· Bolster state and federal efforts

Incoming NASP President and President at Hy-Vee Pharmacy and Amber Pharmacy, Mike Agostino, RPh, was also honored with the Distinguished Service Award during the session.

“[Mike Agostino] has been a tireless advocate for specialty pharmacy, both with his own pharmacy and on behalf of NASP,” Shanahan said.

Over the past year, Agostino worked on advocacy efforts in Washington, DC, implemented a cultural foundation at his pharmacy that puts patients first, founded his pharmacy’s patient education program, and helped develop an annual award that recognizes the efforts of caregivers.

Additionally, NASP honored Ardon Health as Specialty Pharmacy of the Year. The members of Ardon connected patients with more than $6 million in financial assistance, implemented educational programming, supported the community, and had a patient satisfaction score of more than 97%.

“We always want to remember—as we talk about the business of specialty pharmacy—is that, at its heart, is the patient and the patients that care for them,” Shanahan said.