The Role of Specialty Distribution in Driving Health Equityadmin
Specialty distributors can play a vital role in driving health equity by understanding and addressing the causes of existing healthy inequities. They can help by ensuring that patients with complex diseases have access to the specialty drugs they need. As well, distributors can assist in reducing the cost of specialty drugs, improving the quality of care for patients, and addressing social determinants of health.
What is Health Equity?
Health equity is the fair distribution of health resources and opportunities across different groups of people. It is achieved when everyone has the opportunity to reach their full health potential, regardless of their race, ethnicity, income, or other social determinants of health.
A lack of health equity causes health disparities. Health disparities are unequal health outcomes or disease burden that affect systematically marginalized populations. These disparities can be seen in a variety of health outcomes including infant mortality, cancer rates, and life expectancy. Various factors can contribute to health disparities, such as race or ethnicity, level of education, socioeconomic status, geographic location, or other characteristics historically linked to discrimination or exclusion.
One example of health disparities causing health inequity can be seen in the fact that people living in rural Appalachia suffer from an elevated level of illnesses. The poverty rate in Appalachia is 20%, which is higher than the national average of 12%. Poverty can lead to a number of health problems, including obesity, diabetes, and heart disease. In addition, there are 35% fewer mental healthcare providers and 28% fewer specialty physicians in Appalachia than the rest of the country. This limited access to healthcare perpetuates the healthcare problem in rural Appalachian communities.
Health disparities create barriers to preventative care, healthcare providers, medication, and emergency interventions. This can lead to patients with worsened health conditions, suffering from preventable illnesses, and having poorer outlooks on their health.
How Distributors Can Promote Health Equity
Specialty Distributors alone cannot solve health inequity in the United States, but they can do their part by ensuring that patients with complex diseases have access to the medications they need to manage their conditions. Understanding the needs of various patient populations is the beginning to better serve disparate communities. In order the make the most impact, it is important for distributors to recognize the social determinants of health at play among their patient populations. Social determinants of health are the social factors that influence health outcomes, like cultural norms within certain communities or access to nutritious foods.
Specialty Distributors can take a number of actions to reduce the gap in patient access to care:
- Expand distribution networks to provide greater access to specialty medications by including rural and otherwise underserved areas in their network.
- Educate patients and providers about specialty medications to generate awareness and help patients understand the available treatment options for their condition.
- Acknowledge and address barriers to care such as transportation and language access.
- Expanding access to specialty medications by partnering with payers to develop affordable payment options and providing patient support services such as medication management and transportation.
- Offer patient assistance programs that make specialty programs more affordable for patients, such as providing discounts, co-pay assistance, or even free medication.
- Advocate for policies that support patient access to care, such as policies that expand Medicaid coverage, provide subsidies for prescription drugs, or make it easier for patients to get prior authorization for specialty medications.
Distributors play a critical role in promoting health equity because of their position in the supply chain. By ensuring that patients with complex diseases have access to the medications they need, Specialty Distribution can help to improve their health outcomes. This can lead to a reduction in hospitalizations, emergency room visits, and other costly medical events. Without well-connected distributors serving diverse areas, pharmacies in sparsely populated and low-income regions might not be able to supply or stock certain rare disease products. This is especially true of products that have short shelf lives or require temperature-controlled storage.
By providing specialty pharmacy services in a patient-centered and affordable way, Specialty Distribution can help to reduce disparities in care and improve health outcomes for all patients.
BioCareSD, a BioCare company, has been providing patients across the country with fast and easy access to life-saving medications for over 40 years. This is accomplished via their wide-reaching nationwide network of two strategically located distribution centers (DCs), 15 forward stocking locations, and extremely agile distribution capabilities, offering both STAT and emergency deliveries. Headquartered in Tempe, Arizona, BioCareSD has a central customer support team and local, field-based account management teams, available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, 365 days a year. For more information, please visit www.biocaresd.com.