PHARMACY

Albertsons takes personal approach to specialty

BY David Salazar

As more specialty medications are approved, and as they eat up more of healthcare spending, companies are faced with the dual need to offer these drugs — some of whose distribution is limited — and contain the costs. Albertsons Companies has taken that dual goal and added a few of its own — delivering on convenience through its network of roughly 1,800 pharmacies.

One of the areas Albertsons pioneered is its now ACHC- and URAC-accredited specialty approach that has been through its pharmacists being able to administer long-acting injectables to patients in 20 of the states it operates in. That required the company to build a model that facilitated seamless communication from the prescriber to its Boise, Idaho-based care coordination center, which in turn communicates with pharmacies and its two fulfillment centers — MedCart in Livonia, Mich., and another in Santa Fe Springs, Calif. — or any in-store pharmacy.

“Through the process of connecting specialty to the community pharmacies, we found that there are a lot of other opportunities where that model of care can be applied to a whole host of additional medications,” said Brian Hille, Albertsons vice president of patient, specialty and wellness. In particular, manufacturers that want to build more support into their delivery channel, including such reimbursement support as benefits verification, prior authorization and co-pay assistance all can be done in this model. Then a patient picks up the specialty medication at any of its roughly 1,800 community pharmacies.

“The community pharmacy fills a prescription that’s fully supported by the centralized specialty pharmacy team, just like the care provided by traditional specialty pharmacy today, but it doesn’t go to the fulfillment center and ship to the patient’s home,” Erin Shaal, director of specialty care said. “Actually, we’ve seen some significant advantage with patients picking up their specialty medication at our community pharmacies. Utilizing community pharmacy is just a lower cost, more personal approach, with the opportunity to provide patients face-to-face services.”

Building out specialty is key to a strong pharmacy offering, said Mark Panzer, Albertsons senior vice president of pharmacy, health and wellness.

“That’s where the growth is going to be as far as taking care of patients, as well as the companion script that comes along with it,” Panzer said. “Having the correct patient care protocols and having the relationship with that patient, their doctor and their healthcare group is important.”

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