The Journey of Implementing Specialty Pharmacy Services


Matthew Malachowski, PharmD, BCPS, supervisor of specialty pharmacy services at UAB Health System, discusses the journey of implementing specialty pharmacy services in a health system. 


It is, it’s a lot of fun especially if it’s something that hadn’t necessarily existed before. The physicians, the nurse practitioners, the secretaries, most of the clinic staff have gotten used to functioning without this service necessarily. Where they’re used to operating out of this informational black hole. And so, as an institutional specialty pharmacy, or a specialty pharmacy associated with a specific clinic, by providing that feedback, by providing that touchpoint and establishing a channel and then following through. So you say we’re going to operate under a certain circumstance, you identify how patients are identified, how the prescription is going to be communicated, how the clinical information is going to be communicated. Whether that’s going to be pulled from the EMR by an institutional pharmacist or whether that’s going to be pushed by a member of the clinic staff to an outside pharmacy. Setting up those channels and then actually seeing them in action, that’s a lot of fun. Having grace in the initial period, understanding that there will be some events that may occur while you are working out the bugs of your process and procedure. And being comfortable with the idea that we understand that we’re all in this to improve the patients’ experience. If something comes up, we can have an honest conversation without placing blame, improve the scenario, and keep going. And we’ll all get back together in a month and talk about how it’s going, how can we continue to make it better for the patient. That is probably the most fun part. And then actually seeing it deploy, and see it work, and having the patients call you and be surprised that you are able to turn their prescription around as quickly as you did. Those phone calls are what gets you up in the morning and driving to work and knowing that you made a difference in a patient’s life.