What happens when: One of the largest health systems in the U.S. taps Azina to build an existing specialty pharmacy into a systemwide powerhouse?
Hint: Immediate issues get triaged and corrected while a best-in-class specialty pharmacy is built and launched to support the biggest healthcare operation in the State.
One of the largest health systems in the U.S. with dozens of locations, 3,000 beds, and tens of thousands of employees was growing rapidly and continually improving capabilities to keep pace. Because this hospital system is all about exemplary patient service, clinical and operational excellence, and innovation in healthcare, they turned to Azina to dramatically expand and accelerate the growth of their existing specialty pharmacy. The Azina team got to work, making immediate improvements while building a high-performing, sustainable specialty pharmacy that can effectively support systemwide growth well into the future.
As part of our engagement with the health system, Azina assessed the overall needs of the health system, set key performance benchmarks, identified challenges, and began overcoming substantial, systemic issues through a phased plan, including:
The Physical Specialty Pharmacy:
It was clear from the start that the actual physical pharmacy space was too confining and limited, with no room for additional staff, inventory, shipping capabilities, and a more modern layout and equipment. Simply put, the pharmacy operation could not expand and keep pace with the demands of the health system. Seeing the shortcomings and what could be changed immediately, Azina modified the existing space to support operations and growth while the new pharmacy was being designed and built, with the addition of upgraded workstations, Uline shelves, refrigeration, etc. Meanwhile, Azina drafted plans to build out a brand-new specialty pharmacy to meet the current and future needs of the health system.
Specialty Pharmacy Operations:
- Call Flow: Completely redesigned the call flow to direct calls to unique pharmacist and pharmacy technician queues to load-balance and control traffic volume.
- Workflow Improvements: Optimized their utilization and pharmacy workflow within TherigySTM, an Azina sister company, to streamline their operations.
- Shipping: Transitioned to an automated solution that helps with tracking packages and delivery to give more visibility to the pharmacy.
- Technology & Analytics: Completed custom Data Analytics Dashboards to track operational and financial trends, capture rates, look for leakage, measure overall performance, and optimize growth opportunities.
Azina helped the health system attain their second accreditation in less than 3 months, making them dual accredited in record time. This dual accreditation demonstrates to payors, drug manufacturers, and other key stakeholders that the specialty pharmacy is qualified to be an important component of providing quality patient care. And we are continuing to provide ongoing URAC reaccreditation support to maintain their accreditation.
Payor Contract Access:
Azina knows there is a list of gateway requirements payors expect when evaluating a specialty pharmacy, including drug-to-drug interaction processes, call center performance, dispensing accuracy, distribution accuracy, script turnaround time, and value-based care metrics. Azina is currently working on securing contracts with targeted payor networks and advising the medical contracting team with our subject matter experts who know how to get results.
Drug Manufacturer Access:
In phase one, Azina was able to troubleshoot specific access issues that had existed and created a path for access to those drugs. In addition to cleaning up existing access issues, Azina knows that drug manufacturers often restrict access to certain specialty drugs that are critical to provider prescribing, patient health, outcomes and satisfaction, and the overall performance of the hospital specialty pharmacy. So we established lasting processes around the pharmacy’s specialty drug list and key clinical disease states to position them for ongoing updates and preparation for new drugs in the R&D pipeline of manufacturers.
During phase one troubleshooting, Azina accomplished a great deal with our health system partners:
- They’ve experienced upward growth trend in average daily script volume across the pharmacy, and we are tracking to meet or exceed increased gross margin goal of nearly $30.0M.
- Operationally, we’ve improved average time to fill (TTF) to 1.37 which reflects a decrease of 1.23 days in just eight months.
- We helped develop a long-term growth strategy for their 340b business to position them for stronger script volume moving forward.
What's Next For This Hospital:
As our specialty pharmacy initiative entered the next phase, there were numerous projects already in play, including:
- Moving into the newly constructed specialty pharmacy space allowing for better storage, workflow, production, and staff expansion.
- Shared responsibilities with our Azina Patient Care Services Team, to help intake, pre auth, and clinical care management for their specialty patients.
- Staffing plan being implemented, as well as a custom training program.
- Pharmacy liaisons being added to focus initially on oncology, neurology, and bleeding disorders, to support prescriber engagement and patient medication education to improve patient regimen compliance and drive additional medication volume through the pharmacy.
- Disease state expansion strategy that identifies gaps and plans as the pharmacy grows ensuring drug and payor access.
- Marketing and communications plan to increase specialty pharmacy awareness across the organization and optimize growth opportunities.