Medical data on tablet; specialty pharmacy data concept

How to Use Specialty Pharmacy Data and Analytics for Competitive Advantage

Specialty pharmacies can collect valuable real-world data through patients’ interactions with providers, payers and distributors. This breadth of specialty pharmacy data creates opportunities for impactful analytics.

However, collecting this information presents one challenge and gleaning actionable insights from it presents another.

By using the right digital tools, specialty pharmacies can better understand the connections between patients and other participants in rare disease treatment, including care members and HCPs. Powerful specialty pharmacy analytics leveraging comprehensive specialty pharmacy data can uncover trends in medication adherence, time-to-fill rates, and reasons for abandoned prescriptions.

These insights inform strategies to improve operations, which in turn can lead to better patient care and more attractive offerings for customers.

The Need for Comprehensive Specialty Pharmacy Data

Research indicates that among specialty pharmacies, pharmacy benefits managers (PBMs) continue to control most of the market. Just three companies accounted for nearly two-thirds of all prescription revenues from specialty drugs dispensed by pharmacies in 2022, writes Adam J. Fein, CEO of Drug Channels Institute (DCI). Manufacturers’ and payers’ efforts to push dispensing through their preferred PBMs have further channeled business toward the largest players, Fein notes.

There remains plenty of room in specialty pharmacy for competitors.

DCI’s research indicates that specialty dispensing revenues at some of the largest chains, including Walgreens, have declined in recent years. Meanwhile, hospitals and health systems are expanding their participation in the specialty pharmacy market. Independent specialty pharmacies face an uphill battle but remain relevant, and strong competitors are maintaining and even growing their business, writes Fein.

Precision and accuracy in collecting specialty pharmacy data is crucial to ensure reliable analytics outputs and operational insights. For specialty pharmacies, efficiency is essential — yet so is accuracy. The best solutions for marketplace competition bring these demands into alignment with one another.

Team of healthcare professionals consulting in hallway; specialty pharmacy data concept

Connecting Patient Journeys Through Orchestration

Despite the complexity of specialty pharma — involving PBMs, distributors, hospitals and health systems, independent pharmacies and chains — one thing remains simple. Specialty pharmacies dispense needed medications to patients.

Without patients, specialty pharmacies have no orders to fill, no need to provide counseling, and no reason to collaborate with providers or respond to paperwork from payers. Patients stand at the center of the process, making patients a rich source of information for specialty pharmacies.

To leverage patient data for better specialty pharmacy marketplace performance:

Go digital. “The pandemic forced us to adapt and quickly change how things are done, driving more patients online. Digital tools are here to stay and will continue to evolve as technology evolves,” says Lisa Mymo, vice president of pharma and financial services at AllianceRx Walgreens Pharmacy.

Link up. Specialty providers communicate with providers when they receive prescriptions, clarify details, and fill orders. They communicate with payers when they seek authorizations and send bills. They communicate with distributors to keep essential items in stock.

These communications can benefit patients, payers and providers with lower overall costs, write Sergio Santiviago and Jeanette Thornton in an article in Evidence-Based Oncology. Pharmacies that silo these communications lose opportunities to understand the entire patient journey — and thus also lose opportunities to manage costs, streamline their efforts and build long-term relationships with patients and providers.

By using a single digital platform for patient journey orchestration, specialty pharmacies can link communications between patients, providers, payers and manufacturers. This improves visibility into the full patient journey. For example, specialty pharmacies gain deeper insights into the reasons patients may abandon treatment before receiving their first paid fill. They can shorten the time to fill, keeping patients and providers engaged in treatment. They can also help ensure payments don’t fall through the cracks.

Streamline paperwork. Early efforts at obtaining and dispensing specialty drugs were rife with opportunities for error. For instance, duplicate prescriptions required to adjust or titrate medications confused patients and created many places in which an error could sneak in, write Dan Paul and Mackenzie Goltz in Pharmacy Times.

With a digital platform, errors in these steps can be reduced. Automated tools, for instance, can ensure that patients’ basic information remains consistent across paperwork. Platforms can also check for completeness and flag entries that look inconsistent or erroneous.

Benchmarking Performance with Specialty Pharmacy Data

Patients often have more than one option to fill their prescriptions for rare disease treatments. For specialty pharmacies, a clear understanding of patients’ interactions with providers, payers, manufacturers, and distributors is essential for a comprehensive look at the patient journey. This kind of robust specialty pharmacy data facilitates detailed specialty pharmacy analytics in addition to performance benchmarking versus competitors on key metrics.

Armed with these insights, specialty pharmacies can better serve patients and intervene at the right time, becoming more than merely a dispenser of treatments. Pharmacies can become a trusted source of information and perspective — and stand out from their competitors.

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