Specialty Pharmacy: Data Management and Aggregation


June 9th, 2020

Specialty pharmacy has specific considerations when managing their data. Learn how we support these pharmacies with custom solutions and services.

specialty pharmacy

The world of specialty pharmacy has unique needs. It’s really its own category of pharmacy. We’ve spent decades working with this group. In that time, we’ve learned a lot! And, we’d like to share data management best practices with you.

Specialty Pharmacy Is Different

Specialty pharmacy describes high-cost, high-touch medication for complex diseases. Medicines in this field include everything from standard oral to infusions specialized biologic products. These pharmacists treat those with cancer, multiple sclerosis (MS), autoimmune diseases, and other chronic conditions. 

High-Touch Services Create Data Opportunities

Specialty pharmacies perform many data management services. These services relate to the continuum of care. To do this, you need data. Collection, aggregation, and sharing of that data may be necessary. This exchange could be to providers, healthcare systems, or others. 

First, these pharmacists ensure that the medication treatment is appropriate for the disease. In doing this, they check for potential adverse interactions. 

Second, they educate patients. This learning is about the drug but also sets up adherence parameters. Adherence is a critical part of any treatment. Being able to document this and flag for nonadherence is valuable.

Third, specialty pharmacists monitor the progress of patients. They determine their effectiveness and any adverse effects.

Where Does This Data Live?

specialty pharmacy data

That depends. Some use specialty pharmacy software. Such a software is designed to align with the needs and workflows required. Some data may also live separately in an EHR. Other health information systems may also hold some of this data, such as chronic condition management and decision support systems. 

With data in many places, there’s often the need for data sharing. In theory, data sharing should be easy. But this is healthcare, a field that struggles with interoperability. Aggregating this data can be a nightmare.

Data Aggregation Challenges and Benefits

The biggest challenges in data aggregation are security, privacy, and capacity. If you’re merging PHI, it must be done so in compliance with HIPAA. That’s a given. This type of aggregation includes patient information and is necessary for that patient’s continuity of care. 

Aggregation can also include de-identified information. This data is vital in looking at trends and big picture analysis. For example, you may want to look at data relevant to a particular disease or medication. From this analysis, you may learn things that can drive better patient outcomes.

So, why isn’t every pharmacy performing aggregations to achieve these benefits? It often comes down to capacity. Internal teams don’t have the time to do this. It may not be a priority. 

Another concern is having the right skillsets to take data from disparate systems. This process often includes custom programming—a level of expertise, not all specialty pharmacies have at their disposal. 

Achieving Data Management Goals

You may have many data management goals. Those goals may include simplification and streamlining workflows as well as providing better care. But what can you do to achieve these goals?

  • Use a shared patient identifier across systems (not an SSN—something internal) to ensure information links to the patient.
  • Develop an aggregation process, working with an expert provider that understands HIS and pharmacy systems. 
  • Employ a data analytics platform to identify trends and patterns from bulk data that has no PHI.
  • Validate data if aggregating (i.e., removing duplicates, purging old data).

Supporting Specialty Pharmacy

We are proud to be a partner to this segment of pharmacy. We’ve provided hundreds of data services for specialty and would be glad to assist you! Contact us today to learn more about our aggregation solutions. 

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