Emerging Pharma Trends

Gold bagging is an industry term that is rapidly becoming a new “gold standard” of healthcare drug delivery because of the consistently better patient outcomes it is driving in a health system owned specialty pharmacy setting.

The term “bagging” in its various flavors of white bagging, clear bagging and brown bagging – and now gold bagging – denote different methodologies of getting the actual physical package of drugs to the care setting and for administration to the patient. Gold bagging, as the name suggests, has emerged as the most accurate term that depicts the best quality pharmaceutical experience a patient can have and is only available at a health system owned specialty pharmacy.  The existing definitions are listed below:

  • Clear bagging has historically been the descriptor used when a health system’s own specialty pharmacy delivers medication to the clinic, hospital suite or provider office for administration to a patient.
  • White bagging is when the medication from a pharmacy, typically an outside specialty pharmacy, is shipped directly to and administered at the hospital, physician’s office, or clinic. This process is under substantial criticism in the U.S. as of press time, from a variety of national pharmacy and hospital organizations, citing medical risk, logistics failures and unreimbursed burdens placed on health system pharmacies in particular for sterile product preparation and delivery, and lab value monitoring and management.
  • Brown bagging is when a patient acquires pharmaceuticals through their pharmacy and bring the drugs themselves to a hospital or other office or suite to have the product prepared and administered on-site, especially by intravenous infusion or injection. This practice has typically been banned altogether at hospitals and health systems.

Enter Gold Bagging, The New Standard Of Care Terminology

Gold bagging most accurately reflects the tightened chain of custody only a health system can provide, with the total quality of patient care and service being strengthened, significantly.  It’s about improving medical outcomes with a more holistic, coordinated care approach to specialty pharmacy drug delivery and drug therapy management in general.

Replacing “clear bagging” lingo altogether, the emerging gold bagging concept applies to a prescription filled at the health system owned specialty pharmacy by their own pharmacy staff, packaged and delivered to the final place of administration – usually on the same campus as the hospital, office or infusion clinic.   The ultimate aim is for the right drug, right dose, at the right time, all provided to the right patient within their existing continuum of care.

Gold bagging has emerged as the more modernized term because it is ultimately the most impactful and accurate depiction of the best level of service available within the entire specialty pharmaceutical process. The health system owned specialty pharmacy controls the chain of custody (typically with the dispensing occurring at a local location) to deliver the pharmacy care to the patient, including sharing electronic medical records’ documentation and medical notes with the patient’s provider, and the delivery times and specific destinations (i.e. not the loading dock) to synchronize with patient appointments. It is also of note that many health systems also own the insurance risk, the real estate and employ the providers.

These locally managed logistics are largely foolproof when a health system owned specialty pharmacy is involved.  Everything is done and managed within the health system campus as opposed to trying to manage drug delivery remotely from hundreds of miles away that may not match a patient’s real time needs.  In the unlikely event of a lost order or last-minute dosage changes, the on-campus pharmacy is able to ensure a new dispense can happen in real-time so that the patient appointment is not rescheduled. The practice reduces the possibility of errors, helping to reduce the total cost of care and unneeded stress to the patient.