Pittsfield, MA, Nov. 26, 2018– Berkshire Health Systems, working with Shields Health Solutions, announced the expansion of its specialty pharmacy program into diabetes care today, making it one of the first health systems in the U.S. to introduce a hospital-owned specialty pharmacy care model into this disease state. Berkshire’s Community Specialty Pharmacy Program (BCSPP) provides “high-touch” clinical and pharmacy care to patients with chronic illnesses, and aims to improve health outcomes and reduce the total cost of care for patients across a range of specialty conditions (e.g. cancer, multiple sclerosis, rheumatoid arthritis, HIV). By expanding into diabetes, the BCSPP will be bringing its high-touch care model to a population in urgent need of such care.
“Diabetes is a growing and costly epidemic that affects a larger percentage of our community every year. Successful management of this disease requires a strong focus on medication adherence and blood sugar control as well as financial assistance for those who struggle to afford their medications,” said David MacHaffie, Outpatient Retail and Specialty Pharmacy Director, Berkshire Health Systems. “By extending our Specialty Pharmacy program to diabetes, our aim is to increase medication adherence for high risk patients to around 90%, as we’ve been able to do for other chronic illnesses. By doing so, we are bringing high-intensity care to an illness that seldom receives that kind of attention, and that impacts a significant percentage of Massachusetts.”
“With this new program, Berkshire is embarking on a new method for treating patients with diabetes that has the potential to change lives,” said Jack Shields, CEO, Shields Health Solutions. “This is a care model that follows the patient from diagnosis through treatment, into their lives at home and back into the diabetes clinic. The result is a healthier patient population and lower total costs for care. The patients, providers and insurance payers all win.”
There are an estimated 30 million adults in the United States with diabetes. In Massachusetts, approximately 645,000 people (11.1% of the population) live with the disease. The costs of care for diabetes patients is estimated at $327 billion nationally, and $5.5 billion in Massachusetts.
About the Berkshire Community Specialty Pharmacy Program The Berkshire Community Specialty Pharmacy Program is an outpatient care and medication program dedicated to providing patients with the support necessary to manage complex medication regimens associated with many different types of chronic illnesses such as MS, HIV, Rheumatoid Arthritis and others. Patients living with chronic illnesses who fill their medication prescriptions through the community specialty pharmacy have access to clinical pharmacists and on-site “patient liaisons” who work with each patient’s healthcare providers to ensure all specialty medication and care needs are delivered accurately and on time. The overarching goal of the specialty pharmacy is to provide patients with fully integrated clinic-pharmacy services and the highest quality care.
In the first phase of the pharmacy’s diabetes program, a patient liaison will be embedded in Berkshire Medical Center’s Adult Endocrinology clinic to take on the administrative responsibilities that impede the clinical staff’s ability to provide the higher-touch, in-person care to patients that they want to provide. Duties such as insurance prior authorizations, insurance benefits investigation, medication adherence and financial assistance will be handled by a liaison who is trained in diabetic care coordination.
In phase two of the program, a team of clinical pharmacists will begin conducting targeted outreach to at-risk patients and ensure that they receive the support they need to remain adherent to medications, address side effects, and keep blood sugar levels under control. Future phases of the program will bring BMC Adult Endocrinology services such as nutritional counseling and insulin pump support to more and more patients at a greater frequency.
About Berkshire Health Systems Berkshire Health Systems is the region’s leading provider of comprehensive healthcare services. With award-winning programs, nationally-recognized physicians, world-class technology and a sincere commitment to the community, BHS is delivering the kind of advanced healthcare most commonly found in large metropolitan centers. A private, not-for-profit organization, BHS serves the region through a network of affiliates which include Berkshire Medical Center, the BMC Hillcrest Campus, Fairview Hospital, Berkshire Visiting Nurse Association, BHS physician practices, and long-term care associate Berkshire Healthcare Systems. Each of these facilities is distinguished by the high quality of their programs and services, and by the credentials, skill and compassion of their physicians, nurses and caregivers.
About Shields Health Solutions Shields Health Solutions is a specialty pharmacy integrator and care provider, partnering with hospital leaders on every aspect of specialty pharmacy creation, growth and management. Shields provides the fastest, lowest risk model for health systems to create or grow a hospital-owned specialty pharmacy program. Started in 2012, Shields partners with health systems to provide on-site pharmacy and care professionals, a purpose-built specialty pharmacy technology platform, access to 80+ percent of all limited distribution drugs (LDDs) and most (health insurance) payors in the nation. Shields provides ownership of all specialty pharmacy assets in a health system’s name.