For patients with chronic and life-altering conditions, specialty therapies can sometimes be intimidating. Many medications come with complex dosing schedules and serious side effects that can make remaining on therapy challenging. Fortunately, patients taking specialty medications do not have to navigate their therapy journey alone.
Working alongside patients’ physicians and healthcare teams, specialty pharmacy clinicians provide an easily accessible, additional layer of care to patients taking specialty medications. With programs built around the conditions we support, US Bioservices’ specialty-trained pharmacists and nurses offer patients specialized education and caring support to help them achieve the greatest benefit from their therapy.
Offering Therapy Education
One of the most important jobs of a specialty pharmacy clinician is providing patients with additional education about their therapy. Amish Patel, PharmD, CSP, Senior Director of Clinical Services, states, “Since pharmacists are medication experts, they are in an ideal position to help educate and counsel patients about their medications. They can convey essential information the patient should know, in a simple way, to help them optimize the benefits of their medications.” By offering patients a deeper understanding of their medication and how it will affect their bodies, clinicians can help patients take their medication correctly and safely. Additionally, clinicians offer simple, effective strategies for identifying and combating potential challenges that could prevent patients from taking their medication as prescribed. Whether it be using a phone alarm as a reminder to take medication or tracking medication dosing with a calendar, our clinicians tailor tips to the patients’ individual needs to help them achieve greater independence and consistency with their therapy.
Our clinicians also offer to extend this education to patients’ family members and caregivers. With patients’ permission, pharmacists and nurses can share medication dosing information, self-infusion techniques and side effect management strategies with patients’ caregivers, helping them better support their loved ones.
By delivering a comprehensive approach to patient education, our clinicians help patients become more active, engaged participants in their healthcare. “Teaching our patients what kind of questions to ask and what to watch out for helps them advocate for themselves. It is important they learn to take ownership of their own care so that they can report potential problems quickly. Additionally, we educate the patient’s family members to provide a more family-centered and collaborative approach to care,” shares Shannon Cobb, RN. Tom Karlin, RPh, elaborates, saying that counseling “empowers patients to take an active role in their own care. [Clinicians] can be great resources and great motivators in helping the patients achieve positive results.” More than just being a source of information, specialty pharmacy clinicians can also connect patients with additional manufacturer resources, informative websites and disease-specific advocacy groups to help them become more knowledgeable about their condition and their therapy.
Removing Barriers and Supporting Adherence
Even with the proper education and preparation, many specialty therapy regimens can be challenging for patients. Specialty pharmacy clinicians also play a significant support role in helping patients remain on therapy and successfully manage side effects.
Always a phone call away, our pharmacists and nurses are available 24/7/365 to answer questions and provide support that compliments the care patients receive from their prescribing physicians. Mischelle Smoot, RPh, Senior Director of Pharmacy Services, describes one key differentiator in our approach, “The nature of our business allows us to give patients more time. We’re in a setting that empowers us to go the extra mile to support patients.” Because patients are not limited by time constraints, they are able to have multiple scheduled and unscheduled conversations with clinicians to discuss their therapy or questions they might have forgotten or were too uncomfortable to ask during face-to-face appointments with their prescriber.
Most importantly, our pharmacists and nurses are always available to offer clinical support for patients experiencing side effects from their medication. Patsy Garza, RN, Director of Nursing Services at our Texas pharmacy, shares, “When patients call, they’re often extremely apologetic that they’ve called at night or on the weekend. I tell them not to apologize; that’s what we’re here for—we’re glad you’ve called.” Many times, our clinicians can provide guidance that can help patients through a challenging medical episode and prevent a trip to the emergency room. According to Cobb, “Helping our patients stay safe is really important to us. We want to guide patients on how they can manage their healthcare in the community setting as well as in their own home so that they can avoid unnecessary hospital visits.”
The support specialty pharmacy clinicians provide doesn’t happen in isolation. Our clinicians work closely with patients’ physicians and healthcare teams to manage care. They can quickly inform patients’ physicians about challenges or adverse events that impact the patient so that physicians can make any necessary adjustments to the care plan. This integrated clinical approach ensures patients get the care they need so that they can focus on their health.