Specialty pharmacies can enhance patient care, serve more customers, and expand the provider network if they pursue accreditation with an across the board commitment and a clear understanding of goals, says Heather Bonome, URAC director of pharmacy.
“Think of it as a way to organize and demonstrate your commitment to quality,” she says in a new podcast, “Pharmacy Accreditation: A URAC Perspective”, hosted by Christopher W. Kennedy, MSM, chief operating officer, Heritage Biologics, Inc.
Kennedy recently helped lead his team through URAC accreditation and recognized significant value from the entire process.
“It’s well worth the time and the investment,” he says. “URAC accreditation has elevated our Center of Excellence specialty pharmacy program to a new level. We measure everything that we do at Heritage and URAC provides a solid foundation of performance metrics that are common to all accredited members.”
Kennedy feels that URAC accreditation also shows an unwavering commitment to providing preeminent care.
For example, accreditation sends a signal to networks that the specialty pharmacy is serious about improving quality, Bonome says. Networks often play an important role in a patient’s decision-making process when considering various pharmacy options. Specialty pharmacies can provide networks with concrete metrics that show how achieving accreditation is helping the network’s patients with better care, she adds. It can be a pivotal factor in which pharmacy the network recommends, she notes.
“The patient has to be at the center of everything we do,” Bonome says. “From an accreditation standpoint, we always keep the patient in mind.”
While accreditation is required by some networks, checking a regulatory box is not the best way to leverage it. In fact, approaching it as such can translate into a missed opportunity, Bonome stresses.
Instead, specialty pharmacies should use the process as a framework to deliver higher quality. “You can use the process as an analysis to examine where you are currently meeting standards and where you are falling short,” she adds. “Where do you need to educate yourself or your staff?”
For example, working on the accreditation process might reveal a need to better organize and leverage metrics. “It can guide priorities,” Bonome says.
Before moving too far down the accreditation road, however, Bonome advises taking a step back to take the time to articulate the goals. “Is it a network requirement? Continuous quality improvement? Operational excellence? Increasing the patient base and/or provider network?”
The accreditation process “can be intimidating” at the outset, Kennedy recalls. It represents new demands on “time, resources, and staffing.” However, he stresses that the benefits far outweigh the demands of the challenging work. He advises looking at how the outcome of the process can improve patient care. “The outcome can be a great policy advancement that truly will impact the quality of a patients experience.”
Bonome acknowledged the intimidation factor. “Our standards are rigorous and really comprehensive,” as they should be, she says. There’s a significant benefit to this high bar, however. Those achieving it “thank us for making them a better organization,” she says.
After working with more than 400 pharmacies of all types to achieve accreditation, Bonome says the track record is clear. “Our process sets you up for success,” she says.
Listen to the entire podcast below: