Enbrel. Humira. Sovaldi. Xeloda.

For many people suffering from chronic inflammatory arthritis, gastrointestinal illnesses and certain cancers, medications like these can be highly effective in managing conditions and improving overall quality of life, but also very expensive and challenging to manage at home. Traditionally, these specialty medications are prescribed by clinicians, obtained at a chain store pharmacy or outside specialty pharmacy and self-administered by the patient at home.

Enter the new Partners HealthCare Specialty Pharmacy. The program was first rolled out to patients within the MGH Department of Rheumatology in December 2017. It replaces typical third-party pharmacies by delivering medications directly to patients, securing these medical supplies at a lower cost. The team also provides medication management guidance and financial assistance services.

“The current specialty pharmacy process is extremely fragmented with no patient status information being sent back to the provider once the prescription is transmitted to an outside specialty pharmacy,” says Chris Fortier, PharmD, MGH chief pharmacy officer. “The Partners Specialty Pharmacy allows providers a direct line to a pharmacy team dedicated to Partners patients and offers clinicians real-time patient information in the eCare record specific to the patient’s utilization of that specialty medication.”

The Partners Specialty Pharmacy staff uses Epic – the electronic health record – to help patients with the assessment, monitoring and management of high-cost drugs. The team also streamlines the complex prior-authorization process for clinical teams, reducing cost and paperwork for physicians and practice staff.

The program already has grown to include MGH Gastroenterology and will extend to Oncology in March, when it also will be rolled out at Brigham and Women’s Hospital.

“We’ve had a terrific experience piloting our services in Rheumatology and GI. Clinicians and office staff have been very receptive and helpful during the process,” says Michael Carter, RPh, corporate director of Specialty Pharmacy. “We’re very appreciative they have entrusted Partners HealthCare Specialty Pharmacy with their patients and welcomed us to the care team.”

Read more articles from the 01/26/18 Hotline issue.