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UHC to Launch New Specialty Pharmacy Program for Better Continuity of Patient Care, Improved Access to Specialty Pharmaceuticals

CHICAGO, Sept. 9, 2013 /PRNewswire/ -- Increasing at a rate of more than 20% per year, specialty pharmacy is one of the fastest-growing segments of health care. But hospitals that need specialty pharmaceuticals to perform procedures or treat patients fill less than 1 in 5 of those prescriptions. As a result, the majority of patients must fill their specialty prescriptions elsewhere, including mail-order pharmacies, which are not always convenient for patients and can take patients' care out of the hands of their caregivers.

UHC, an alliance of the nation's leading nonprofit academic medical centers, is unveiling a new specialty pharmacy program in late 2013/early 2014 to provide patients with access to the specialty medications they need at the hospitals where they are treated.

"The UHC specialty pharmacy program will help member hospitals and health systems succeed in an accountable care organization environment in which continuity of care must be available," said Jake Groenewold, UHC senior vice president, Supply Chain. "A patient's health care team must coordinate care and services among inpatient settings, outpatient settings, infusion clinics, and pharmacies."

In a real-life example of how this program will improve continuity of care for the patient, a member hospital worked with a patient whose copayment for a specialty medication had more than tripled. As the patient applied for assistance through the pharmaceutical company, the patient's specialty pharmacy withheld her prescription. Her physician worked with the hospital pharmacist to assist the patient and found a lower-cost generic specialty medication with an affordable copayment that the hospital could fill. The patient missed only 1 day of her prescribed follow-up medication, minimizing the potential for worsening symptoms and avoiding hospitalization. Without a specialty pharmacy program in place, the hospital may not have been able to act as quickly to help the patient.

A key element of the UHC specialty pharmacy program is a UHC-controlled data repository. UHC will track patient outcomes using its access to medical record data to provide clinical evidence for promoting the best therapeutic regimens. UHC will also identify patients who have a failed or unsustainable response to therapy and would be good candidates for a newly approved and potentially lifesaving medication.

"This program provides the foundation for UHC to become the industry leader in reducing the time to initiate therapy, ensuring patient safety, and improving adherence," said Groenewold. "Patients still get their access to top specialists but will now receive more convenient access to the specialty medications they need."

The UHC specialty pharmacy program is the latest offering in the UHC Supply Chain Intelligence™ suite of programs designed to meet the needs of academic medical centers and affiliated organizations. As the program develops, additional information will be made available, including an announcement at the American Society of Health-System Pharmacists Midyear Clinical Meeting in December 2013.

About UHC
UHC is an alliance of the nation's leading nonprofit academic medical centers, which are focused on delivering world-class patient care. Based in Chicago, Ill, UHC fosters collaboration with and among its 118 academic medical center and 298 affiliated hospital members through its renowned programs and services in the areas of comparative data and analytics, performance improvement, supply chain management, strategic research, and public policy. UHC helps its members achieve excellence in quality, safety, and cost-effectiveness. Formed in 1984, UHC's membership includes the leading nonprofit academic medical centers in the United States. For more information, visit

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