With developing lots of advanced therapeutics, the pharmaceutical market was hit by the increased amount of specialty drugs. Most of these medications are used to treat chronic, complex health conditions, such as cancer, rheumatoid arthritis, or autoimmune disorders.
These medications should be administrated the special way and only by healthcare providers. At the same time, specialty drugs are really expensive and even have their own tier when it comes to health insurance.
Despite a high cost, specialty drugs brought $146 billion of revenue in 2018, which is about one-third of the total drug dispensing revenue in the US. However, high cost is only one of the issues that patients meet on their way to get a specialty drug.
As these medications are rare, expensive, should be kept and administrated the special way, it takes some time to get them. For patients with severe medical conditions (like autoimmune disorders), each day is count and delay in getting the proper treatment may be fatal.
CVS Specialty Expedite
On September 25, 2019, CVS announced that it will help patients with a need of getting specialty drugs by implementing Specialty Expedite and Specialty Connect tools.
According to CVS, Specialty Expedite will shorten the specialty pharmacy onboarding process. It means that patients who are in need of specialty drugs shouldn’t wait for weeks until their data is collected and a specialty pharmacy will provide them with medications on their prescriptions.
The new tool should make it possible to complete an onboarding process within only 3 days, so getting required medications should be faster than it was before.
The CVS tool securely gathers the required patient medical data, such as diagnosis (from electronic health record (EHR) system), lab testing results, health insurance information. All the information is collected online, so phone calls and faxing are not going to be used, resulting in more effective work and fewer errors.
As Specialty Expedite uses electronic health records, this tool is available only for providers who use compatible EHRs that participate in the Carequality Interoperability Framework.
Another useful feature of the tool is real-time communication with a patient via emails or text messages. With the help of this tool, patients stay informed about their prior authorization requirements, their prescriptions status and other information related to specialty drugs.
CVS Specialty Connect
In additions to Specialty Expedite, CVS offers customer another option to get medications: Specialty Connect. This is a specialty mail service from CVS that allows patients to receive their prescription without going to CVS pharmacy.
This tool allows saving even more time, as specialty drugs are not something that is usually in stock of the pharmacy. With Specialty Connect a patient can avoid a lot of phone calls pharmacy visits, which is very important for patients with health conditions that are treated by specialty drugs.
At the moment this option is not available in Oklahoma because of the state laws, and in Puerto Rico, as there first-fill prescriptions should be transmitted directly to the specialty pharmacy.
To Sum Up
CVS made another step to make a life of its customers who are in need of specialty drug easier. The tools offered by the company are better to use in a bundle since this is how patients may save most of the time.
Another issue that is still not resolved – the high cost of specialty drugs. Some patients can cover their expenses by health insurance, in some other cases, it’s better to use drug discount cards and patient assistance programs.