NHIA 2019: Empowering Pharmacies to Grow in Specialty

Home infusion and specialty pharmacy have coexisted from the early days of specialty pharmacy, becoming a subset of the larger industry. Many specialty therapies embody the characteristics of those traditionally infused in an outpatient setting. Even as highlighted in Specialty Pharmacy Times® editorial from March 2019, nearly half of all new approvals from the FDA are for infused specialty products. 
The convenience of home infusion for these products is very enticing for patients who require them and positioning home infusion pharmacies as partners with prescribers and patients is critical to help support this influx of new therapies. This is where advocacy on behalf of pharmacies is equally as critical. 
The National Home Infusion Association (NHIA) represents and advances the interests of organizations that provide infusion and specialty pharmacy products and services to home-based patients.  With the increasing amount of overlap being demonstrated, NHIA is always expanding resources available to their membership as it relates to awareness surrounding specialty pharmacy.
This year’s annual meeting for the National Home Infusion Association, hosted at the Gaylord Palms Resort in Orlando, FL, March 9-13, presented multiple opportunities for attendees to catch a glimpse into different aspects of traditional specialty practice as opposed to home infusion pharmacy. For example, in partnership with the National Association of Specialty Pharmacy (NASP), a half-day executive seminar was offered, which provided overviews of key concepts in the specialty pharmacy journey, including federal policy, disease statement management, accreditation, and technology. 
The seminar was led by a number of thought leaders in the specialty space, affording the opportunity for expert question and answer sessions. In addition, a full-day pre-conference seminar was offered surrounding exam preparation for the Certified Specialty Pharmacy (CSP) credential. Sessions highlighted the key therapeutic areas on the exam, such as multiple sclerosis, hepatitis C, oncology, inflammatory diseases, and HIV. Additionally, a separate session surrounding the other areas of the exam (intake, outcomes, fulfillment, and clinical management) rounded out the day. These sessions were well attended and illustrated a strong desire to learn more about specialty.
Outside of the pre-conference sessions, several in-line educational programs were offered to the general attendees, both in lecture style and a unique roundtable format. I was fortunate enough to provide a session highlighting the differences across accreditation programs, particularly to compare and contrast specialty versus home infusion program offerings. 
With more payers looking to categorize traditional home-infused specialty products within a specialty reimbursement and contracting model, attendees were very interested to understand which potential barriers to entry might exist when looking to translate their existing programs across another set of accreditation standards.
The roundtable model included 41 different moderators across a number of disciplines, both home infusion and specialty pharmacy. This model allowed attendees to move freely from table to table in 30-minute increments to ask questions and fostered conversation to learn in a small group setting. 
In regards to specialty, sessions focused on data capture and sharing, therapeutic updates in areas like immune globulin therapy, billing and contracting, and technology were available – and with each offered more than six 30-minute blocks during two days of the conference, there were ample opportunities to attend sessions of interest to both ask questions and learn collaboratively from others at the table.
“As an organization, we’re excited to continue to expand educational opportunities that broaden awareness among our members regarding the many ways their practices can best serve patients receiving specialty medications,” said Jennifer Charron, RN, SN, CNE, chief operating officer of NHIA. “We continue to assess our annual conference programming and look forward to offering more specialty-focused opportunities for our 2020 meeting next April in Denver, Colorado.”
As the industry continues moving forward, it’s imperative that all voices are present when it comes to the complexities associated with the management of these therapies.  NHIA and NASP continue to expand their relationship. During the 2019 NASP Annual Meeting & Expo (September 9-12 in Washington, DC), NHIA will be providing their second annual full-day post-conference workshop surrounding the intricacies of managing home infusion. With the synergies that both organizations bring to the mix, the benefits are limitless for attendees. 
About the Author
Jonathan Ogurchak, PharmD, CSP, is a specialty pharmacy veteran, having designed programs and services for both Accredo and PANTHERx Specialty Pharmacy. He has focused on new, innovative uses for technology, designing, and implementing several high-touch pharmacist-driven programs focused on dosing efficiency and clinical monitoring of patient outcomes. He is CEO of STACK, a compliance management software designed to simplify complexities associated with running successful pharmacy organizations. He is also Managing Partner of Rhythm Group, an accreditation consulting organization, and is a Certified Consultant with Accreditation Commission for Health Care. He is on faculty for the Master of Science in Pharmacy Business Administration program through the University of Pittsburgh, leading the Specialty Pharmacy Management curriculum. He currently serves on the editorial board for Specialty Pharmacy Timesâ, having been a featured author for multiple publications, and holds CSP Certification through the Specialty Pharmacy Certification Board.

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