Navigating Unique Drugs: The Role of the Clinical Pharmacy Specialist
Have you ever purchased insurance without speaking to an agent? Have you tried to learn math without a teacher? Of course, it can be done. But it’s much easier with a little help.
As an integrated Clinical Pharmacy Specialist in the Department of Neurology, Jacqueline Cicchese, PharmD, MBA, BCACP, performs a similar role in specialty medications.
“I meet with patients to talk to them about their treatment options,” says Cicchese. “I also work with providers to answer questions about medications that patients need to help with issues such as side effects and other safety issues.”
Cicchese assists patients by explaining specialty medications in a way that patients can easily understand to help them prepare for the complexities that sometimes accompany these medications.
“We educate them on the difference with their regular pharmacy and set expectations for what that experience may look like,” says Cicchese.
Usually, specialty drugs have a specific schedule to follow or need to be stored and delivered in a way that increases their effectiveness.
“We spend the majority of our time liaising between the clinic and the specialty pharmacy, where we help communicate the patient’s plan to our pharmacy who then dispenses those medications to our patients,” says Cicchese.
Bridging the gap
The role of the clinical pharmacy specialist allows for better communication between patients, clinics, and pharmacy staff, which often leads to better patient outcomes.
“If the patient is able to fill their prescription at our specialty pharmacy, we can share the same health record as the clinic,” Cicchese explains. “I can communicate directly with the pharmacy team to let them know what our expectations are and that the patient can safely begin treatment right away.”
Despite the differences between pharmacies and clinics, the staff all have the same interest in mind: the well-being of the patient.
“They are very separate entities, but both have the same goal of helping the patient,” Cicchese explains. “Having someone in our role who works with the clinic, but also with the pharmacy, is key to having that communication between those teams to make sure we can help patients achieve those end goals.”