Join us as we learn more about HOSP member Berkshire Community Pharmacy. Berkshire Community Pharmacy began in 2010 as an employee pharmacy working to serve employees, their families, and out-patients of Berkshire Health Systems (BHS) and the Berkshire Medical Center (BMC). In just over a decade, Berkshire Community Pharmacy has grown to three locations in Massachusetts; located in Pittsfield at BMC, at the North Adams Campus of BMC, and in Williamstown at the Williamstown Apothecary. The Berkshire Community Pharmacy in Pittsfield is proud to have earned a URAC accreditation for Specialty Pharmacy and is accredited by the Accreditation Commission for Health Care (ACHC) for compliance with a comprehensive set of national standards. Dedicated to quality and safety, Berkshire Community Pharmacy looks to continually improve services and strives to provide the highest quality care possible to all patrons.
Q: Tell us a little bit about Berkshire Community Pharmacy. How did you end up in the Health System-Owned Specialty Pharmacy industry?
A: We started as an Employee Pharmacy in 2010 to serve employees and their families and the out-patients of Berkshire Health Systems (BHS) and the Berkshire Medical Center (BMC). Soon after beginning, we added a Meds-to-Beds program, which was so successful that, in 2015, we decided to expand our services to get into the Specialty Pharmacy arena with our own PBM (Blue Cross Blue Shield). It is a monumental task to do independently, so we joined with a 3rd party vendor, Shields Health Solutions, to assist us.
Q: Why did you join HOSP and how long have you been a member?
A: We joined HOSP as a Founding Charter Member for the opportunity to collaborate with other Health Systems that have experience in Specialty Pharmacy. We wanted to have resources we could reach out to with questions, see how other organizations go about getting into limited distribution networks, and how they’re circumventing payor lockouts. Plus, joining HOSP allowed us to gain pharmaceutical colleagues that we can network with to get feedback and advice from; it is an invaluable resource.
Q: What are some of the biggest challenges for this industry?
A: For us, two of the biggest challenges are payor access and proper reimbursement—or getting into a limited distribution network.
Q: How do you think Health System owned Specialty Pharmacies help to address the problem with health disparities? Are there things the industry should be doing better?
A: Addressing the problem of health inequity and disparity, for us, is through the close contact we have with our patients, we know the community that we serve, and we have good relationships with them. They trust us; we are happy to provide the same access to all patients, regardless of age, income, insurance plan, etc. We show no discrimination based on these factors, which allows all patients to get the same treatment.
As far as what the industry should be doing better, we feel that all Specialty Pharmacies should have better and total access to all medications in order to serve all their patients. Currently, we are unable to access and provide every medication out there, which makes patients go to other pharmacies to attain certain drugs. Patients should be able to utilize their Specialty Pharmacy; they should not be inconvenienced or face obstacles in dealing with multiple locations for their medications.