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    Top 7 Challenges (and Opportunities) for Pharmacy in 2018

    What’s the difference between a challenge and an opportunity? In 2018, for pharmacy, they may be the same thing.


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    Specialty Pharmacy

    Specialty pharmacy doesn’t get many kind words. Community pharmacists complain that specialty is poaching patients. Health-system pharmacists complain that specialty complicates everything from patient care to inventory and continuity of care.

    “Specialty pharmacy isn’t looking to steal patients,” said Sheila Arquette, RPh, Executive Director of the National Association of Specialty Pharmacy. “The move to specialty pharmacy is driven by the payer. There is no choice involved for either the patient or the prescriber.”

    Arquette said NASP would like to see a synergistic relation with other pharmacists.

    Specialty pharmacy is no more able to deal with patients’ nonspecialty needs than other pharmacies can meet specialty needs. She would like to see specialty and nonspecialty pharmacists share information to improve patients’ overall care.

    Related article: Considering Specialty Pharmacy? Make Your Move

    There are few—if any—formal information- or patient-sharing arrangements, but some community pharmacists are proactively tracking specialty use, noted Lynnae Mahaney, BSPharm, MBA. She is ASHP’s Director of Pharmacy Accreditation and facilitates specialty pharmacy accreditation for the group’s Center for Pharmacy Practice Accreditation (CPPA).

    But expansion into specialty pharmacy is possible and is being done. Community and health-system pharmacies are successfully providing a variety of HIV, hepatitis C, rheumatoid arthritis, and other specialty products. The key is working with CPPA to become an accredited specialty pharmacy, Mahaney said.

    “Whether you are a health system or an independent, you can build a very successful specialty business if you invest the time and the effort,” she said. “Good pharmacy care can be provided anywhere and the key is providing services that help patients achieve desired, cost-effective outcomes from their specialty medications.”

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    Fred Gebhart, Contributing Editor
    Contributing Editor Fred Gebhart works all over the world as a freelance writer and editor, but his home base is in San Francisco.


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