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By Brandon Newman, Pharm.D., MMHC, Vice President of Clinical Affairs at Trellis Rx

Delivering an excellent customer experience is crucial for 340B covered entities seeking to differentiate their in-house specialty pharmacy services from those of external specialty pharmacies. As in other industries, providing great service will boost customer satisfaction and loyalty, leading not only to better clinical results but also to stronger financial growth.

At Trellis Rx, we partner with Zitter Insights, a division of MMIT, to regularly measure patient satisfaction using the Net Promoter Score, or NPS. NPS is a cross-industry standardized index ranging from -100 to 100 that measures the willingness of customers to recommend a company’s products or services to others. The results help us proactively identify opportunities for our embedded pharmacists and pharmacy liaisons to provide an even better experience to our health system partners’ patients.

Zitter Insights also benchmarks health system specialty pharmacies with other providers including retail and PBM specialty pharmacies. In the most recent Zitter Insights Specialty Pharmacy Patient Satisfaction Survey, hospitals and health system specialty pharmacies received an average NPS of 79, while retail and PBM specialty pharmacies received average scores of 45 and 41 respectively. We’re proud that Trellis Rx’s partner health systems received an average NPS of 90 – one of the top scores out of all specialty pharmacies surveyed.

The results point to the broader benefits of hospital and health system specialty pharmacy services for patients and their families. Leveraging the ongoing patient relationship, direct engagement with physicians, and immediate access to the health system EHR, health system specialty pharmacy services drive much higher adherence, better medication access, greater care coordination, and improved medication affordability.

However, achieving a strong NPS is not a given – 340B covered entities must make a deliberate and concerted effort to build a specialty pharmacy program that provides a differentiated experience. Simply achieving accreditation or setting up a patient call center won’t do it – PBM and retail specialty pharmacies both do that too.

Drawing on our team’s experience, I prepared three recommendations hospitals and health systems can leverage to create a differentiated experience that will not only drive better patient satisfaction and outcomes, but also accelerate growth by maximizing provider engagement and network access.

  1. Differentiate via the care model: With direct access to patients, their health records, and their providers, 340B covered entities are uniquely positioned to provide a more coordinated, personalized experience compared to external specialty pharmacies. To maximize this opportunity, Trellis Rx recommends hospitals and health systems embed on-site pharmacists and pharmacy liaisons into specialty care teams. This model drives greater provider engagement which in turn supports dramatically better ongoing patient engagement.
  • Prioritize technology: To ensure its pharmacists and pharmacy liaisons can deliver excellent care to every patient, 340B covered entities must also invest in technology. At Trellis Rx, we have gone so far as to create an advanced technology platform, Arbor®, that is purpose-built for hospital and health system specialty pharmacies. In addition to connecting with the EHR to identify eligible patients, coordinate administrative support, and facilitate care team communication, Arbor includes disease-specific protocols and dashboards that allow embedded pharmacists to tailor care and interventions based on a particular patient’s needs. These workflows produce the data needed to support greater patient engagement and impact clinical and operational performance in real time.  

  • Complement NPS with robust training initiatives: Finally, we strongly suggest hospitals and health system specialty pharmacies provide extensive training to their team members to promote patient loyalty. Trainings can even be targeted based on NPS results to optimize the patient or provider experience in a particular clinic. At Trellis Rx, we regularly deliver training to pharmacists and pharmacy liaisons not only on disease-specific clinical expertise but also on customer service skills.


Collaborating for patients

To help further enhance specialty pharmacy care for patients, Trellis Rx is sponsoring ASHP’s Specialty Pharmacy State of Practice in Hospitals and Health Systems – Future Directions Summit. The virtual event, which is taking place this week from February 1-4, will bring together interprofessional stakeholders to discuss topics including how to optimize all aspects of the patient journey and quality of life associated with the use of specialty medications.

For more information, email me at bnewman@trellisrx.com.

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