• Kristy Frizzo

Three Ways to Optimize Your Specialty Pharmacy Network

There are effective ways that most manufacturers can leverage their relationships with SPs to enhance engagement and outcomes, including taking a more strategic approach in three key areas
Three Ways to Optimize Your Specialty Pharmacy Network

Three Ways to Optimize Your Specialty Pharmacy Network

Specialty pharmacies (SPs) typically manage complex, high-cost therapies that require careful handling, customized care coordination services, and detailed data insights. How to best select, manage, and optimize SP networks has become a strategic priority for most manufacturers, and is a topic on which we’re often asked to share our guidance and advice.

What we’ve learned, is that there are effective ways that most manufacturers can leverage their relationships with SPs to enhance engagement and outcomes, including taking a more strategic approach in three key areas: enhanced services, clinical customization, and data.

Enhanced Services

SPs support pharmaceutical manufacturers with core services that meet the basic needs for dispensing specialty medications, including benefits investigations, prior authorization support, medication dispensing, and clinical consultation. They also offer extra, or “enhanced” services, which can be customized to help manufacturers reach their desired patient outcomes. Manufacturers may benefit from the inclusion of certain enhanced services when launching a new product, or when they need to optimize existing product support. Examples of highly utilized enhanced services include:

  • Dedicated Program Manager – An operational resource within the specialty pharmacy operations team who is dedicated to supporting and overseeing a manufacturer’s program. This person acts as the “quarterback” to ensure that the referral process moves swiftly for all patients and is engaged if, and when, a patient access challenge is identified.

  • Customized Clinical Adherence Program – The SP’s clinical experts can partner with the manufacturer to develop a therapy-specific clinical program to support patients. This program may be modified based on specific milestones or unique patient needs.

  • Video Clinical Consultations – SPs have the ability to connect a clinician to a patient through video-calls. This can be particularly valuable for therapies in which the patient may need support or instruction related to how to self-administer their medication. Rather than the clinician and patient connecting via phone call, they can connect via video call which provides the patient with visual support, a more personalized experience, and deeper level of care.

  • Customized Data Reporting – The SP can collect and report customized data based on the specific nuances of an individual product.

  • Dedicated Support Teams – Operational resources within the pharmacy who are dedicated to the therapy-specific program. They become experts on the specific disease state and therapy and are able to better service patients and prescribers with drug-specific expertise.

  • Real-time Manufacturer & Hub Portals - SPs can provide manufacturers with access to a secure data portal. The web-based portal gives users the ability to check on referral and shipment status, as well as early identification of trends related to specific prescribing patterns and deidentified patient information.

  • AE and PC Reporting and Reconciliation – SPs have the ability to collect all adverse event and product complaint information and report it to the manufacturer on a regular basis. They also offer reconciliation reporting which provides a summarized weekly or monthly report to use for reconciliation against the individually reported AEs and PCs.

Clinical Customization

Custom Clinical Support Programs can be developed by SPs to enhance patient engagement, encourage patient adherence to therapy, and optimize patient outcomes, on behalf of the manufacturer. SP teams are experts in developing very specialized patient contact models, which allow a clinician to intervene with a patient at the right time within their therapeutic journey. For new drugs to market, the teams will rely heavily on clinical study data as well as SP experience with analog therapies to develop the appropriate patient outreach cadence and content.

It is important that these programs are evaluated on a regular basis to ensure that the contact with patients is occurring at just the right time in their treatment journey. This is where data plays a very important role. Pharmacy data should be leveraged to identify when and why patients face adherence challenges. The clinical program should be flexible so that it can be modified and optimized as needed over time.


Customized data reporting can be developed by SPs to offer specific insights and drive therapeutic success. The data that a specialty pharmacy collects can be extremely valuable to a manufacturer and should be carefully considered. All SPs offer a standard dispense, status, and inventory report that can be delivered to manufacturers on a regular basis. Beyond those standard reports, the SP can also collect a number of therapy-specific data points that can be offered to the manufacturer as an enhanced service.

One key area of interest might be clinical adherence information. Through an enhanced service agreement, the pharmacy can ask therapy specific adherence questions to the patient during clinical counseling. A few examples of the type of customized information that can be collected include patients who have a gap in therapy, the reasons for those gaps, how many doses were missed, etc.

For many manufacturers, SP networks are evaluated and adapted frequently to ensure performance and effectiveness levels that support company goals. The next time you’re tasked with optimizing an SP network for a new or existing product, let us know how we can help. Our team of experts includes former SP leaders with real-world experience in contracting, account management, data and analytics, and program design and optimization.

Kristy Frizzo joined Team Archbow in 2021. Kristy brings unique, insider expertise in Specialty Pharmacy and Specialty Distribution solutions to Archbow Consulting’s clients. Her 15 years in operations, reporting and analytics, and account management lend unparalleled insight into the inner workings of SP and SD programs. Learn more about Kristy here.

While large national specialty pharmacies continue to dominate the market, health systems are rapidly building Specialty Pharmacy capabilities, creating an interesting alternative for manufacturers and payers. Click here to read our 2021 Health System Specialty Pharmacy Trend Report.


Archbow Consulting helps pharmaceutical and biotech companies in the USA and Europe design, build, and optimize product distribution and patient access strategies. Archbow was founded by industry veterans to meet a need in the marketplace for consulting options that offer diverse real-world experience, are able to leverage deep connections across the industry, and can also provide actionable strategic guidance. We invite you to learn more about our team, services, and clients’ success, and connect with us via email, LinkedIn, Twitter or subscribing to this blog which you can do below.