Outpatient Pharmacy receives two specialty pharmacy accreditations from industry leader
Upstate’s Outpatient Pharmacy has received specialty pharmacy accreditation from two leading national accreditation bodies. Both URAC and the Accreditation Commission for Health Care (ACHC), which are independent, nonprofit accreditation entities, notified the Outpatient Pharmacy of its new status late last month. The accrediting bodies “provide industry standards and best practices while encouraging quality and improved patient care.”
The accreditations, which require extensive applications, interviews and site visits, are considered prestigious, especially for a pharmacy that is less than two years old, said Eric Balotin, RPh, associate director pharmacy enterprise. There are fewer than 400 pharmacies in the nation with this dual accreditation status, Balotin said. Upstate’s Outpatient Pharmacy was also awarded the accreditations with “zero deficiencies” on mandatory policies, meaning the pharmacy was not required to make any changes according to the accrediting bodies’ requirements, he said.
“This is really, really important for this hospital and our patients,” Balotin said. “Prior to opening the pharmacy, the hospital brought in outside consultants to help lay the framework for our growth. That plan suggested that we start the accreditation process in our third year of operations. We completed the process in less than two years. Our high-touch, high-quality, patient-focused programs will increase patient adherence, help select the most cost-effective therapies and provide faster access for those patients who use Upstate Medical University and our outpatient pharmacy.
Upstate’s Outpatient Pharmacy serves Upstate University Hospital patients and the public. It pioneered a “meds to beds” program at Upstate, which streamlines the process of patients leaving the hospital with their required medications; the program significantly reduced the hospital’s readmission rate. The Outpatient Pharmacy also employs medication assistance staff who advocate for patients to receive discounted or free medications, saving patients more than $1.5 million to date.
The pharmacy’s new accreditations will allow it to obtain and dispense a series of specialty medications that only select pharmacies may handle. Those limited distribution medications include drugs to treat multiple sclerosis, cystic fibrosis and cancer, among others.
Upstate first applied for the accreditations in mid-November 2019. The applications were upwards of 200 pages and required copies of written policies on dozens of pharmacy procedures. In working toward the accreditations, Upstate made additional investments in staffing and with the purchase and implementation of a new backup computer system that allows the pharmacy to seamlessly continue operations in the event of a power or system failure, Balotin said.
The accreditations are valid for three years and the pharmacy is required to submit documentation periodically to show it is continuing to provide a high level of care for patients.
“This accomplishment really speaks to the team and the willingness of the institution to take care of its patients,” Balotin said. “We wouldn’t be here without the support of the administration and many other departments that worked with us to obtain the accreditations.”
Founded in 1990, URAC is the independent leader in promoting healthcare quality through leadership, accreditation, measurement and innovation. URAC is a nonprofit organization using evidence-based measures and developing standards through inclusive engagement with a range of stakeholders committed to improving the quality of healthcare. URAC’s portfolio of accreditation and certification programs span the healthcare industry, addressing healthcare management, healthcare operations, health plans, pharmacies, telehealth providers, physician practices, and more. URAC accreditation is a symbol of excellence for organizations to showcase their validated commitment to quality and accountability.
ACHC is a national nonprofit organization founded in 1986 by homecare and alternate-site industry providers and which has since grown to offer accreditation in seven key areas, including a program specific to specialty pharmacies. ACHC’s accreditation process is designed to be collaborative, educational and patient-focused.