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Published: July 11, 2017

Value-Based Contracts and Health Systems Specialty Pharmacy Integration: 2 Key Insights From Asembia 2017

June 21, 2017 - Curant Health COO, Marc O'Connor, in Specialty Pharmacy Times - With more than 5000 attendees, 100 seminars, and 900 companies befitting a $150 billion industry, the annual Asembia Specialty Pharmacy Summit maintains its place as the industry’s leading event. While its growth continues to make the valuable new connections difficult amid the hubbub and crowds, Asembia 2017 delivered high-value insights about 2 of specialty’s hottest topics: value-based contracts and the race for health systems to enter the specialty pharmacy space.

Here are our top takeaways from Asembia 2017.

Integrated Health Systems and Specialty Pharmacy Integration: Proceed With Extreme Caution
Integrated health systems and large hospitals are racing to enter the specialty pharmacy space, which they perceive to be a highly lucrative proposition. The top question that they must address is how: build or partner? This explains, in part, why we saw far more health systems represented at Asembia 2017 than in any other year in memory.

Asembia is an outstanding event, during which those entities can get educated about the intricacies, nuances, and risks associated with specialty pharmacy as a business that is incredibly complex and often crosses the border into convoluted territory. Driven by an interest in moving towards a health maintenance organization (Kaiser) model and perceived profit generator, we, and industry colleagues like Apogenix, urge health systems to use extreme caution when considering their next steps in specialty pharmacy.

The resources required and mandatory risks to assume should be impossible-to-miss red flags that prudent health systems acknowledge and assess before advancing a build strategy. As Adam Fein, PhD, president of Pembroke Consulting, detailed during Asembia, the battle being waged over the patient journey, especially relating to data access, may be driving systems to enter the specialty pharmacy space as well.

That said, distribution network issues, direct and indirect remuneration fees, and loss of focus from the core business for a poorly compensated piece of the puzzle are the top reasons health systems should proceed in their specialty pharmacy integration plans with extreme caution. The most prudent path forward appears to be partnering with a stable specialty pharmacy committed to improving patient outcomes through programs proven to improve adherence and reduce the overall health care spend.

To Maximize the Potential of Value-Based Contracting: Keep it Simple for Now
Few, if any, first generation value-based contracts among pharmaceutical manufacturers and payers have achieved success levels necessary to drive systemic change. This is largely because many of these agreements cover only 1 drug, and/or rely on volumetric math as the arbiter of contractual conditions and payment. That appears to be changing.

To read Marc’s full article, visit Specialty Pharmacy Times.

To learn more about Curant Health, contact Kristin Lindsey, Senior Marketing Director, at

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