Pharmacy Practice

ASHP Specialty Pharmacy Summit Leads the Way

Published: February 16, 2021

A diverse group of healthcare leaders from across the country met virtually during the first week of February to define best practices for all aspects of specialty pharmacy services and ensure optimal management and use of these medications in the nation’s evolving healthcare enterprise.

Participants in the ASHP Specialty Pharmacy State of Practice in Hospitals and Health Systems — Future Directions Summit were tasked with evaluating and refining 73 proposed recommendations supporting outcomes-focused, aspirational best practices for specialty pharmacy.

“I’m delighted that 100 of you are here for this interprofessional summit, which aligns with ASHP’s legacy of bringing practitioners together with healthcare leaders to reflect, assess, and develop recommendations to serve as a roadmap for healthcare,” ASHP Chief Executive Officer Paul W. Abramowitz said in Feb. 1 opening remarks for the multiday summit.

“This event will serve as another significant influencer to advance patient care and pharmacy practice similar to the ASHP Pharmacy Practice Model Initiative, the Ambulatory Care Summit, and the 2030 Practice Advancement Initiative,” he added.

The summit’s roster included 75 voting participants and additional observers, including ASHP staff and representatives from ASHP’s Board of Directors.

The Feb. 1–4 summit had four main goals:

  • Identify the critical elements for optimal patient outcomes, access, and affordability of specialty pharmacy medications.
  • Develop recommendations encompassing logistical and business measures and accountabilities of those involved in the diagnosis, care planning, medication management, payment, and the reimbursement of specialty pharmacy medications.
  • Develop recommendations to optimize the patient journey and the quality of life associated with the use of specialty pharmacy medications.
  • Discuss a shared vision for value-based care that will support sustainable healthcare models for specialty pharmacy medications.

In an ASHP podcast previewing the summit, Udobi Campbell, regional director of pharmacy for the Triangle West region of UNC Health in Chapel Hill, North Carolina, and chair of the summit’s steering committee, emphasized the summit’s focus on how pharmacists can ensure patient access to specialty medications and pharmacists’ services.


“A continued focus on outcomes — how we make progress in this area, and how we leverage our ability to provide and focus on outcomes and communicate with manufacturers and payers — will certainly be addressed during the summit,” she said.

Throughout the week, summit participants voiced passionate support for a future in which the pharmacy profession is responsible and accountable for the full spectrum of specialty pharmacy services.

“We might not be able to lead everywhere today, but over the years we should work toward that,” an attendee summed up during one of the summit’s many roundtable discussions.

The summit also featured panel discussions on research and support for value-driven and outcomes-based specialty pharmacy services.

Keynote speaker JoAnn Stubbings, clinical associate professor emerita at the University of Illinois at Chicago College of Pharmacy, presented preliminary findings on specialty pharmacy from ASHP’s most recent national pharmacy practice survey.

Stubbings said survey responses confirm that pharmacists and pharmacy technicians are well-integrated in specialty pharmacy clinics. In most health systems, specialty pharmacists are involved in treatment decisions before a specialty medication is dispensed.

She said the biggest challenges that respondents expect to face in the next year are changes to the 340B Drug Pricing Program, declining reimbursement, access to limited distribution drugs, and access to payer networks. Network access was cited as the top priority in the year ahead.

Stubbings also said the time is now for specialty pharmacy providers to take full ownership of this pharmacy space.

“We’re in a position to define the model. We don’t need to have an accrediting organization or a payer define our model,” she said.

Keynote speaker Bill Roth, founding partner of Blue Fin Group, a New York City-based healthcare research and consulting company, voiced similar concerns about specialty pharmacy.

“The tea leaves are leading to either the payer is going to own it or the health system is going to own it, if they have the ability to rise,” Roth said.

ASHP President Thomas J. Johnson closed the week by thanking participants and describing the summit as a successful start to a larger process.

“As part of ASHP’s commitment to special pharmacy practice and our continued support of the profession, this summit's final recommendations and outcomes will be published in AJHP and support the development of ASHP educational content for future webinars and meetings,” Johnson said. “This is just the beginning.”

The proposed recommendations will be reviewed by ASHP staff under the guidance of the summit’s steering committee and the executive committee of ASHP’s Section of Specialty Pharmacy Practitioners. After revision, the recommendations will be released for public comment, and final recommendations will be presented to and reviewed by ASHP’s Board of Directors.

[This news story appears in the May 15, 2021, issue of AJHP.]

ASHP appreciates the support of the ASHP Foundation and our sponsors, including Trellis (Elite Sponsor), Acentrus Specialty and Amerisource Bergen (Premium Sponsors), and Genentech and Shields Health Solutions (Strategic Sponsors).

Posted February 16, 2021

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