Why A Patient-First Strategy for Specialty Rx Pharmacists Is Critical to Optimize Outcomes


Dr. Brandon Salke, PHARM.D, Pharmacist-in-charge, Optime Care

One of the biggest challenges for biopharmaceutical companies of rare and orphan disease patient populations is optimizing disease management in a way that enhances the patient journey and improves outcomes. As these companies seek innovative solution partners, a patient-first approach that offers specialty Rx pharmacist expertise is critical for securing insurance coverage, coordinating care, ensuring compliance, and, ultimately, minimizing the daily impact of rare and orphan diseases. 

In today’s challenging healthcare environment, biopharma companies need to feel confident that their products are properly and promptly distributed, and reimbursements processed quickly and correctly. The best approach is to partner with a pharmacy, distribution, and patient management organization that offers a patient-first strategy for rare and orphan disorders, as well as personalized care programs designed to maximize the benefit of the therapies prescribed for patients. The goal is to improve the quality of life for both patient and caregiver with a dedicated support system for positive outcomes and long-term well-being.

The right patient-first partner can tailor IT, technology, and data-based upon client needs, combined with a high-touch approach designed to improve patient engagement from clinical trials to commercialization and compliance. 

High Touch Meets Technology

Rare and orphan disease patients require an intense level of support and benefit from high touch service. A care team, including the program manager, care coordinator, pharmacist, nurse, and specialists, should be 100% dedicated to the disease state, patient community, and therapy. This is a critical feature to look for in a patient-first partner. The idea is to balance technology solutions with methods for addressing human needs and variability.  

With a patient-first approach, wholesale distributors, specialty pharmacies, and hub service providers connect seamlessly, instead of operating in siloes. This strategy improves continuity of care, strengthens communication, yields rich data for more informed decision making, and improves the overall patient experience. It manages issues related to collecting data, maintains frequent communication with patients and their families, and ensures compliance and positive outcomes. A patient-first model also hastens time to commercialization and provides continuity of care to avoid lapses in therapy – across the entire life cycle of a product.

Key Components for Effective Patient-First Strategy

A patient-first strategy means that the specialty Rx pharmacist works directly with the patient, from initial consultation, and across the entire patient journey, providing counseling, guidance, and education-based upon individual patient needs. They also develop an individualized care plan based on specific labs and indicators related to patient behavior to help gauge the person’s level of motivation and identify adherence issues that may arise. 

The best patient-first partners enable patients to contact their pharmacist 24/7 and offer annual reassessments that ensure that goals of therapy are on track and every challenge is addressed to improve the patient’s quality of life. These specialty pharmacists also play a critical role on behalf of biopharmaceutical partners, providing ongoing regulatory and operations support and addressing each company’s particular challenges.  

Telehealth

As the COVID-19 pandemic wanes on, it’s also important to find a patient-first partner that offers a fully integrated telehealth option to provide care coordination for patients, customized care plans based on conversations with each patient, medication counseling, education on disease states, and expectations for each drug. 

A customized telehealth option enables essential discussions for addressing patient challenges and needs, a drug’s impact on overall health, assessing the number of touchpoints required each month, follow-up, and staying on top of side effects.

Each touchpoint should have a care plan. For example, a product may require the pharmacist to reach out to the patient after one week to assess response to the drug from a physical and psychological perspective, asking the right questions and making necessary changes, if needed, based on the patient’s daily routine, changes in behavior and so on. 

Capturing information in a standardized way ensures that every pharmacist and patient receives the same assessment based on each drug, which can be compared to overall responses. Information is gathered by an operating system and data aggregator and shared with the manufacturer, who may make alterations to the care plan based on the patient’s story. 

Ideally, one phone call with a patient can begin the process of optimizing medication delivery, insurance reimbursement, compliance, and education based on a plan tailored for each patient’s specific needs.


About Dr. Brandon Salke, PHARM.D

Dr. Brandon Salke serves as the pharmacist-in-charge and General Manager at Optime Care in Earth City, MO. He previously served as a team pharmacist for Dohmen Life Science Services, where he helped launch several new care programs and assisted in the management of clinical trial activities.

He is specialized in specialty pharmaceuticals, particularly ultra-orphan, orphan, and rare disease. Dr. Salke has been involved in all aspects of operations (planning, process integration, project management, etc.) for pharmaceutical manufacturers. This includes clinical trials to commercialization and assisting in commercial launches (and relaunch) of specialty pharmaceuticals.


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