5 trends shaping health system pharmacies next year

Healthcare leaders should expect changes as specialty drug spending continues to grow and health systems move to bring services closer to patients, among other trends in the new year, according to a new report from from the McKesson RxO team.

Here are five predictions for health system pharmacies:

1. Spending on specialty drugs will grow. Currently, specialty drugs represent about 45 percent of the pharmaceutical market spend in the U.S. In 2018, hospitals saw a 16 percent growth in the market, according to an IQVIA, National Sales Perspectives report. This trend shows no signs of slowing in 2019, according to McKesson.  

2 The rise of convenient, "next-door" healthcare. To keep costs down  and and ensure patients have easy access to healthcare, health system pharmacies are working to bring care closer to patients. Employers are looking to contract directly with local providers to establish regional markets. Many of these contracts in 2018 centered on pharmacy services being integrated into retail locations or stand-alone medical clinics, a trend McKesson expects to continue into next year. McKesson also said  it has observed several examples of health systems partnering to expand pharmacy and health services locally.

3. 340B compliance gets tougher, requires more focus. As Congress considers changes to the 340B Drug Pricing Program and program compliance gets tougher, health systems will need to increase their focus on compliance and performance. To ensure they meet program requirements, McKesson recommends tapping industry experts.

4. Data tracking and managing will become a core focus. Pharmacy directors are facing pressure to use data and analytics to optimize their health system pharmacies. Pharmacists will be called on to make monitoring drug spending and utilization continued top priorities next year,  McKesson said.

5. Public policy will drive transparency. While prescribed medications are cost-effective in comparison to invasive procedures or repeated emergency room visits, the industry needs transparency  about drug costs. Policies are in the works, and McKesson expects them to increase visibility about how prescription drug prices are set.

Read the full report here.

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