Walgreens Trains Staff, Identifies Cancer-Specialized Pharmacies

Pharmacists and pharmacy technicians working at 50 specialty pharmacy locations owned by Walgreens have completed a cancer-focused curriculum of advanced education courses.

Pharmacists and pharmacy technicians working at 50 specialty pharmacy locations owned by Walgreens have completed a cancer-focused curriculum of advanced education courses, created in collaboration with The Leukemia & Lymphoma Society (LLS) and the Oncology Nursing Society (ONS). This continuing education training will help staff better serve patients with cancer.

Staff at 50 stores went through a cancer-focused curriculum of advanced education courses, specifically, colorectal, lung, prostate and breast cancer, as well as various blood cancers, including leukemia, lymphomas, multiple myeloma, myeloproliferative neoplasms, and myelodysplatic syndrome. The specialized courses included educational materials created by LLS, with input from academicians, to improve the understanding of pharmacy staff on evidence-based standards and guidelines for blood cancer care.

The staff received the following training and educational programs:

  • Breast cancer curriculum developed by the ONS, tailored for Walgreens pharmacists
  • Prostate and colorectal cancer curriculum developed by Pharmacy Times Continuing Education
  • A lung cancer course created by Advanced Studies in Medicine and its University of Tennessee Advance Studies in Pharmacy initiative

“We are continually looking for ways to better support and educate our cancer patients on their medication regimens, while helping to improve their quality of care,” said Matthew Farber, Walgreens senior director for oncology disease state management, in a press release. “With the continued advances in new oral therapies for cancer care, our pharmacists at these specialty locations are playing an integral role in working with patients’ physicians, nurses, social workers, and financial counselors.”

These programs are expected to arm the pharmacy staff with knowledge and understanding that can improve the care and support they offer to patients who come in to get their prescriptions filled and also for counseling. Pharmacists can help bridge the knowledge gap or communication gap that may exist between an oncologist and the patient, to ensure the patient continues to have access to medication.

Specialty pharmacies have been transforming their approach to patient care via a close collaboration with clinicians, not only to improve adherence, but also to manage prior authorizations and coordinate patient financial assistance. At The American Journal of Managed Care®’s Patient-Centered Oncology Care® meeting last year, Joshua A. Rademacher, MBA, executive vice president, Enterprise Solutions and Business Development, at Avella Specialty Pharmacy provided a glimpse into some of these services, which include:

  • Initial patient assessment
  • Clinical assessment, including patient history, comorbidities, and disease progression rates
  • Clinical services, including nursing assessments and patient education
  • Follow-on care support

“We make significant investments in technology, to deliver both provider-specific and patient-specific applications, such as patient portals, mobile applications, and data analytics,” Rademacher told the audience.