Sitting at the intersection between the healthcare provider, the drug manufacturer, the payer and the patient, specialty pharmacies will play an increasingly important role in supporting Baby Boomers as they become senior citizens. The need for patient education and adherence programs for patients with complex diseases will continue to grow, as will the demand for care coordination services for those who face reimbursement challenges or struggle to navigate Medicare.
Yet, specialty pharmacies also will be under pressure to evolve their offerings to meet the expectations of seniors as the market becomes increasingly competitive. In order to succeed, specialty pharmacies will need to adapt in the following ways:
1) Adopting assessment tools to measure functional age
Identifying the functional age of patients – and distinguishing the “Mick Jaggers” from seniors who are functionally older – starts with an accurate assessment at the time of the patient intake. While these assessment tools exist today, they are not widely used. Going forward, leading specialty pharmacies will not only use such tools regularly with new patients, they will routinely monitor existing patients, ensuring that changes in functional age are taken into consideration throughout the care continuum.
2) Establishing a spectrum of services to meet seniors where they are
Once functional age is established, specialty pharmacies will need to expand service offerings to better address the individual needs of seniors. Patients who are functionally young will seek healthcare services with an Amazon-like experience – consumer-driven and interactive with immediate access to information through apps and portals. As patients become functionally older, pharmacies will need to shift to services deliver more one-on-one engagement, such as counseling and care coordination via phone with a pharmacy technician or patient support representative.
3) Embracing new technology to support better care
Baby Boomers have grown accustomed to technological advances that improve their quality of life. In the coming years, new healthcare technologies such as robot companions, wearable/implantable medical devices, medicines with tracking sensors, and alternatives to nursing homes such as portable housing units and smart homes, will provide older patients with smarter, more intelligent care and will enable seniors to remain independent longer. Specialty pharmacies will need to be early adopters of these technologies because many of these tools will be used to support adherence and appropriate medication use. They will also play a key role in aggregating the data collected from these devices and delivering it back to providers and manufacturers.