Dignity Health brings specialty pharmacy in-house

San Francisco-based Dignity Health opened its hospital-owned specialty pharmacy March 26.

The specialty pharmacy, built in partnership with specialty pharmacy integrator Shields Health Solutions, aims to improve health outcomes of patients while reducing the cost of care, Dignity Health said in a news release.

The new pharmacy will dispense specialty drugs, a class of expensive medications that are often hard for patients to get. The hospital operator said it also hopes to reduce medication copayments and help patients manage their ailments better by giving pharmacists access to their medical records.

The hospital-based specialty pharmacy, located in Dignity Health's St. Joseph's Hospital and Medical Center in Phoenix, Ariz., will serve as the centralized hub supporting all Dignity Health locations.

"As medication affordability is known as one of the best predictors of medication adherence, our goal is to reduce overall healthcare expenses on these specialty medications so patients don’t have to choose between paying for food or treating their chronic condition," said Marla Weigert, PharmD, system vice president for pharmacy services at Dignity Health and president of Dignity Health Specialty Pharmacy.

With specialty drugs making up nearly 50 percent of total drug spend, many health systems are considering building in-house specialty pharmacy programs instead of relying on specialty pharmacy contracts.

Dignity Health is not the only provider working to bring specialty pharmacy services in-house. In 2018, Boston-based Partner's HealthCare launched its own specialty pharmacy. Rochester, Minn.-based Mayo Clinic, Boston Medical Center and New Hyde Park, N.Y.-based Northwell Health also moved pharmacy and delivery services in-house.

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