Last year, we journeyed to Alps Pharmacy in Springfield, MO, to meet Morgan Miller. She had recently undertaken the task as the Director of Specialty pharmacy for Alps, and since then, the program has grown to become a much-needed source of patient care for the community.
Morgan acknowledges that the current state of the industry may be rough, but she affirms that this is an exciting time to be in pharmacy. With the recent news of PBM takedowns and the obstacles she confronts within the pharmacy, Morgan is determined and exuberantly taking each challenge in stride. When the topic of DIR fees came up in a recent conversation with her husband, he asked her, “How do you not get paid for dispensing drugs? That’s what a pharmacy does, right? What do you do?”
“Isn’t that the question of the century?” Morgan jokes. “I told him, ‘I fight giants. I fight giants every single day!”
Within Alps’ Specialty Pharmacy, Morgan and her team continue to focus on the three mainstay diseases she initially chose to focus on for the large patient base associated with them: Hepatitis C, rheumatoid arthritis, and psoriasis. She has added other disease states to the list, but lately, her main priority has been addiction management. With the opioid epidemic still dominating headlines, this was a timely move for Alps that was born out of necessity. The Springfield area has a large psychiatric and addiction population which was threatened by several providers who ceased their services. Although their doors were shutting, Morgan realized another one was opening for the Alps specialty practice. Addiction management services in the form of VIVITROL® are now in place, and Morgan accepts both walk-ins and appointments for patients who need the injection. “I’m not just submitting these claims and getting approval back,” she says. “I’m keeping track of the things that normally get lost in the workflow of a regular retail pharmacy, and we’re even helping to coordinate patient care and find them new doctors.”
However, Morgan never imagined her practice expanding to addiction management. “This is outside my comfort level and realm of experience, but it has become the best part of my day,” she says. “I’m seeing actual results in people’s lives. They’re getting their kids back, they’re getting jobs, and they’re turning their entire lives around!”
The topic of addiction also addresses a problem Morgan and her colleagues have dealt with for years: Missouri is the only state that does not have a prescription drug monitoring program in place. “Our pharmacists have always used whatever resources available to do what we can,” she reflects, “but we have it ingrained in our brains that we have to stop it ourselves.” PioneerRx features like Care Plans and Rx Triggers are helping Morgan stay on top of her clinical care and document Alps’ performance. “Data proves the pharmacist’s worth and opens the door to different payment models,” she explains. “I love that PioneerRx is on the same page I am because it lets me use just one system versus several to get the information I need.”
As for future projects, Morgan and the rest of the Alps Pharmacy staff are open to the needs of their community by seeking out nontraditional pharmacy services. “We’re fighting the good fight, and we have opportunities abound!” she declares. “It’s all about not being afraid to step outside the box and take care of what needs to be taken care of, even if it’s beyond what has been done before.”