Being able to provide personal consultations to patients – something mail order companies cannot offer, and physicians and clinics have little time to do – is one of the most valuable services an independent specialty pharmacy can offer its clientele.
How Specialty Pharmacies Help
Andrea is at war with inflammatory breast cancer. She has been fighting for four years and considers herself to be a fiercely independent woman. But four years is a long time to wrestle with such a debilitating disease. It takes a toll on a patient’s physical state, and the ability to maintain a strong, positive mental attitude – crucial to beating cancer and the recovery process – is stretched perilously thin. Andrea admits it took her a while to learn that it’s okay to accept offers of help from her family and friends – and the pleasant side-effect of having her stress lessened will only aid her in gaining back the strength she needs to win her fight.
This mindset now extends beyond Andrea’s personal circle and reaches out into the world of specialty pharmacy. Andrea is one of millions of patients who now rely on their local, independent specialty pharmacy to ensure vital medications arrive on time, and to gain access to the resources necessary to successfully navigate post-diagnosis care.
Being able to provide personal consultations to patients – something mail order companies cannot offer, and physicians and clinics have little time to do – is one of the most valuable services an independent specialty pharmacy can offer its clientele. Independent pharmacies already have a strong, customer centric vision. Making the move into specialty pharmacy allows independents to maintain that customer-focused vision, while allowing the pharmacy business to grow with the specialty drug market.
Making the Move to Specialty Pharmacy
Specialty pharmacy has exploded over the past few years. In fact, 2016 saw pharmacies dispensing approximately $115 billion in specialty drugs. That’s nearly 30% of the pharmacy industry’s yearly revenue; and it is on pace to reach close to 42% by 2021 (1). But this growth won’t last forever.
Larger box stores and chain pharmacies are busy getting their feet into the specialty pharmacy market, which can cause opportunities to shrink for smaller players in the industry. What does that mean? That means that any independent pharmacy looking to get involved in specialty services needs to start breaking ground – the sooner the better.
Obstacles to Specialty Pharmacy
One of the major challenges to specialty pharmacy is PBM competition. Because specialty drugs tend to be so expensive, larger PBMs often capture a bigger chunk of that market. However, by focusing on a niche market, keeping core services centered on patient needs and resources, and appealing to a more community-serving approach, it is entirely possible for an independent pharmacy to secure a strong position in this market.
Other obstacles include access to products and adopting new marketing techniques. One serious consideration any independent pharmacy should take in hand when deciding to go into specialty pharmacy would be seeking accreditation. Accreditation is quickly becoming a “must have” across the board, but it is an absolute necessity for those independent pharmacies that wish to venture out into the specialty pharmacy world.
AlliantRx offers accreditation service assistance through ACHC – click here for more information.
Your Biggest Hurdle to Success is Already Your “Specialty”
Because referrals are won through physicians and clinics, it is imperative that the pharmacy has a solid, mutually respectful and beneficial relationship with these organizations. Relationships are built on trust, and trust is built through exemplary service, positive patient experiences, and the ability to be a member of core team focused on the successful outcome of a patient’s care.
Independent pharmacies are already working within this core/patient ideology so you have a head start. By finding a niche specialty that applies to your clientele/location, seeking accreditation, and continuing to offer a standard of service that eclipses the cookie-cutter generic care of larger chain pharmacies, the independent pharmacy can carve out a piece of the specialty pharmacy trend and secure a stronger position in the market for years to come.
With the specialty pharmacy industry growing at a rapid pace, now is the time for independent pharmacies to act on any plans to break into the specialty pharmacy market. Because, while this industry is expected to continue growing over the next few years, it won’t last forever – and the longer a pharmacy waits, the smaller the opportunities to grab real estate in this market will be.
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