CVS launching new pharmacy solution aimed at making it easier for patients to obtain specialty drugs

The front entrance of a CVS Pharmacy
CVS launched a new platform taking aim at specialty drugs. (Eric Glenn/

CVS is launching a new pharmacy solution aimed at cutting down the time it takes for patients to obtain specialty drugs. 

The new tool is built in two parts: Specialty Expedite and Specialty Connect. The former is designed to cut down the prior authorization and onboarding process significantly with the goal of reaching a three-day process. 

Onboarding for a new medication can take a long time—sometimes weeks—for some patients, which can leave them falling off the wagon for needed care, CVS said in a brief on the new solution. 


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RELATED: $3K for folic acid? CVS Caremark takes aim at ‘hyperinflated’ drug prices 

If the process is shorter and easier to follow, patients are more likely to stick with needed medications, CVS said. 

“The process can also be more time-intensive for the health care system due to increased phone calls, emails, and faxes to coordinate care and share information among payers, pharmacy benefit managers, and patients,” Prem Shah, executive vice president of specialty pharmacy and product innovation for CVS Health, wrote in the brief. 

“These steps are critical to ensure that patients are receiving the appropriate medication and that the client’s formulary and plan design are closely followed,” he said. 

In addition, patients will receive a welcome message through the platform once a prescription has been submitted. They will receive continued electronic communications about the status of the prescription throughout the process, also with the goal of ensuring they stay on their treatment plans, CVS said. 

RELATED: Costly specialty drugs make up 40% of 2018 employer drug spending despite few prescriptions 

Patients may also feel “overwhelmed” by a new diagnosis, CVS said, so building those connections from the beginning is key. 

Specialty Connect is the patient-facing element of the platform, according to CVS. It allows members to select where and how they want to receive their specialty drugs, be that in person at a CVS pharmacy or through mail order, as many pharmacies do not routinely stock these types of products. 

Through the communication tool, patients are also kept up to date on needed insurance information and financial supports, CVS said. To date, patients using this prong of the solution are 17.5% more likely to refill their prescription. 

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