Patient IO recently attended Asembia 2016 (Armada rebranded as Asembia this year). Asembia is the largest U.S. healthcare conference for specialty pharmacy. Asembia’s thousands of attendees include pharmacy providers, pharma/biotech manufacturers, payers, drug wholesalers, and many other specialty pharmacy stakeholders. Attending Asembia’s many sessions and getting to know our peers in the industry made one thing very clear – what happens in Vegas will not stay in Vegas. The connections made and insights gained will play an important role in shaping our business this year. Here are my top takeaways:
1. The Best is Yet to Come
Many in healthcare wax nostalgic for the good ole’ days, but that’s not the case for specialty pharmacy. Precision medicine initiatives are expected to spur the pipeline rather than cause it to stagnate. A variety of sessions at Asembia 2016 cited trends that speciality pharmaceuticals will grow to be the majority of overall drug costs in the US within 5 years.
2. Care Plans are Increasingly Important in Specialty Pharmacy
Accreditations bodies continue to examine how care plans can enhance care for patients taking speciality drugs. For example, ACHC in partnership with COA created new accreditation programs including CMS’s 13 care plan components for oral oncolytics. Increased focus on the care plan is a boon to both patient and provider support services, allowing specialty pharmacies to differentiate themselves while embracing the transition to value-based healthcare models.
3. Payers Proceed with Optimistic Caution
Payers are careful to jump into speciality pharmacy. They are looking to reduce medication waste, improve adherence, and install cost-effective therapy management resources. ‘Time to fill’ is still an industry benchmark, but payers are equally concerned with ‘time to end-of-therapy’ and are turning to care management solutions for it. Highly managed speciality pharmacy benefits are the expected outcome.
4. Convergence Shakes Up Traditional Roles in Healthcare
The traditional players in healthcare — payers, providers, patients, etc. — are taking on elements of each other’s roles, especially with the move to value-based care. Collaboration and shared responsibility are driving convergence on many levels. Several sessions of Asembia 2016, including one hosted by Avella and Avalere Health, encouraged speciality pharmacies to adopt population health management tactics for coordinating care.
5. First-Timer’s Welcome
On the plane to the conference, my aisle mates were a husband and wife duo who run a local specialty pharmacy. Their business is relatively new, but poised for growth, and they were excited to attend Asembia for the first time. One marked resumes of potential employees while the other reviewed a print out of the online agenda. I reconnected with them the end of the summit, and they shared a sentiment — first-timer’s welcome. They met veterans who built and shaped the industry, but no one precluded them from participating, learning, and discussing how to grow the market.
Overall, Asembia was a highly valuable event and we can’t wait to go back.
See you next year!