3 Requirements for Exceptional Specialty Pharmacy Patient Satisfaction

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The Net Promoter Score® (NPS) offers an objective measurement of what is arguably one of healthcare’s most critical—but subjective—areas of focus: patient satisfaction. It is a cross-industry standardized index designed to measure people’s willingness to recommend a company’s products or services to others. While traditional customer satisfaction surveys usually measure a customer’s perception of a specific interaction, NPS measures a customer’s overall attitude toward your brand over time.

Within healthcare, NPS is a strong gauge of how satisfied patients feel with the care they receive. Therefore, it’s noteworthy when organizations receive a significantly higher NPS than the average NPS for other companies offering similar products or services.

Zitter Insights, a division of Managed Markets Insight & Technology (MMIT), conducts a quarterly NPS survey to assess patient satisfaction with specialty pharmacies. In the Q2 2021 fielding, the results revealed that Trellis Rx received an average NPS of 90. By comparison, the overall average NPS across health system, independent, payer, retail, and pharmacy benefit manager specialty pharmacies was 65. Furthermore, two of our partner health systems were recently named finalists for MMIT’s Specialty Pharmacy Patient Choice award, which recognizes specialty pharmacies that provide best-in-class customer satisfaction and overall patient care.

How did our partner health systems achieve an industry-leading patient NPS? I believe the answer lies in how their locally-embedded and technology-enabled approach provides high-touch personal service, enables proactive patient care, and promotes clinical excellence.

1. High-touch personal service 

The clearest distinction between our partner health systems’ specialty pharmacy services and those that scored below average is the care model itself, which embeds highly-trained specialty pharmacists and pharmacy liaisons directly into care teams.

Technology-enabled patient management frameworks and robust clinical protocols are essential aspects of how our partner health systems consistently provide excellent specialty pharmacy care, but neither of these factors drives patient loyalty more than a personal relationship with their pharmacy providers. In fact, results of a recent national survey showed that more than 8 in 10 adults prefer their local pharmacists over mail order services. Our partner health systems’ specialty pharmacies bring that experience even closer to the patient by engaging directly with them as part of the care team led by their physician.

At each health system, pharmacists and pharmacy liaisons work onsite alongside providers and see patients face-to-face whenever possible. This coordinated approach enables a high-touch, personal service that enhances and streamlines the patient experience. Patients appreciate having experts working directly as part of their care team on insurance approvals, financial assistance applications, and therapeutic decision-making. They also value having a familiar face who is available to provide support when needed and calls to check in on them between appointments to see how they’re doing.

This quote from a patient sums up the impact of the locally-embedded approach best: “Personal attention. Genuine concern for my needs. Works well with my cardiologist to assure I get the best treatment for my condition. Very friendly and easy to talk to at any time.”

2. Proactive patient care 

An additional difference is EHR-integrated specialty pharmacy technology platform that provides the engine to power this proactive patient care model.

The connection between the technology platform and the EHR streamlines patient identification and management. The system automatically notifies pharmacists and pharmacy liaisons of eligible patients, and the software auto-assigns tasks for all activities required to engage and support patients with their therapy over time. This enables a more personal and proactive medication management approach that eliminates preventable hassles, identified barriers to care, prevents medication lapses and ultimately enhances patient satisfaction.

3. Clinical excellence  

The technology platform also promotes clinical excellence by deploying pharmacy-specific clinical protocols. These protocols facilitate the consistent delivery of guidelines-driven care and interventions to patients based on their condition or therapy.

Few clinical frameworks focus exclusively on protocols for pharmacists and pharmacy liaisons to deploy. However, we have found these protocols can enable a locally-embedded specialty pharmacy team to serve as a powerful partner in improving clinical outcomes and quality of life.

One example is how pharmacy teams collect various patient-reported outcomes measures (PROMs) based on clinical protocols. Patients with rheumatoid arthritis, for instance, are prompted to complete a RAPID-3 assessment every 3-6 months. The system tracks and trends scores over time, and an algorithm flags patients for pharmacist intervention any time it detects two consecutive worsening scores.

Without technology-enabled clinical protocols, such risk stratification across thousands of patients wouldn’t be feasible. It also permits pharmacists to engage patients in ways they prefer. If a patient doesn’t want to complete their RAPID-3 assessment via telephone, a pharmacist can securely text PROM forms for patients to fill out at their convenience—an option that has generated positive feedback.

The protocols also help providers stay informed on how patients have progressed between appointments. One case-in-point involved a pharmacist who called a patient whose RAPID-3 indicated worsening disease severity. The patient was in a lot of pain but wasn’t scheduled to visit her provider for several months. So, the pharmacist called the patient’s provider, explained the situation, suggested the patient be seen earlier than scheduled, and recommended a change to the medication regimen. After hearing the pharmacist’s recommendations, the provider immediately switched the treatment plan without bringing the patient into the office again. One month later, the patient completed another PROM that showed drastic improvement.

This example shows the benefit of a locally-embedded, technology-enabled approach to facilitate proactive and efficient communication that ultimately drives better patient care and outcomes.

Well-supported relationships drive patient satisfaction

Patient satisfaction increases when they have strong relationships with their pharmacy providers and ultimately when their health improves because of those relationships. Technology is a powerful tool to guide providers’ day-to-day work, connecting patients with provider teams dedicated to improving their outcomes. The recent Specialty Pharmacy Patient Satisfaction Survey results are evidence that a locally-embedded, technology-enabled specialty pharmacy program can create a personalized and streamlined specialty medication experience that leads to greater patient satisfaction.

Brandon Newman is VP of Clinical Affairs for Trellis Rx.  Feel free to contact him at bnewman@trellisrx.com to learn how Trellis Rx’s partnerships can accelerate the growth and results of a specialty pharmacy service for your covered entities’ patients.

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