What matters most: The value of solidarity and innovation in specialty practice partnerships
We recently sat down for a roundtable with several specialty practice administrators to discuss what matters most to them, and the value they place on their relationships with their partners. In this exclusive Q&A, we talk with Lisa Shanahan, Practice Administrator of Shanahan Rheumatology and Immunotherapy in Durham, North Carolina.
With over a decade of experience in running the business and administrative side of the practice with her husband, Dr. Joseph Shanahan, managing the clinical side, Lisa shares insights into the significance of the GPO/distributor-practice relationship, the value she’s found in her three-year partnership with AmerisourceBergen, and her hopes for a continued successful future.
Q: At AmerisourceBergen, it's valuable for us to know the voice of the customer—and we really want to know what matters to you, because it matters to us. Lisa, what is it that matters most to you?
Lisa Shanahan: For Dr. Shanahan, ensuring his patients' happiness and well-being is top priority. Every day, he focuses on providing the best quality of care so that our patients can leave our office happy and well. In rheumatology, where a cure is not always possible, our goal is to maintain the highest quality of life for the patients.
Finding the right treatment for a patient can often require trying multiple medications. It is crucial to have access to the necessary resources and support from the distributors, to provide that seamless care on a daily basis. This helps ensure that when a patient visits for an infusion, they can be confident that their needs will be met promptly and effectively, even on their most challenging days.
For us, it is about the patient experience at a very granular level. It’s imperative for our distribution partner to understand that, and our patients’ needs.
Q: It has often been said that solidarity really matters in our industry, particularly with distribution and your interactions with a GPO partner. What does solidarity mean to you in your practice?
Lisa Shanahan: Having a partnership in which our needs are proactively anticipated is vital to our success.
For example, one of the drugs that was distributed for COVID-19 management at the height of the pandemic was one of our often-prescribed treatments. We had concerns about potential supply issues, but our AmerisourceBergen teams stayed actively engaged with us so that there was minimal disruption for our patients.
When I think about solidarity, it always goes back to the quality of care for our patients. Ultimately, we stay in business because patients come back to us, as they trust us. I'm very blessed that AmerisourceBergen understands and has anticipated the needs of our practice.
Q: If we are innovating, we're bringing new concepts to market—but what role does innovation play in your decision-making when you are looking at your strategic partners?
Lisa Shanahan: As a small practice, we don't yet utilize all the technology available to us. However, I find ABC Order to be extremely helpful because I can easily view recent products and access data on past purchases to make informed predictions about future needs.
Recently, our practice was struggling with a financial puzzle that related to a single drug. ABC Order was able to show me what we have done in the past and what we can do differently to address that issue. The ability to pull reports to get the information I need when I need it is valuable to our very small practice.
Additionally, we’re observing trends that threaten to restrict patient access to care. In these situations, I greatly appreciate that AmerisourceBergen’s Office of Government Affairs and Public Policy is available to offer support and help overcome any barriers that may arise.
Q: Aside from the pricing (which is important), what other things do you consider when you decide which GPO and distributor to partner with?
Lisa Shanahan: Pricing is always important, but as far as I'm concerned, the holistic value AmerisourceBergen brings to our small practice is instrumental to our success.
During the pandemic, for example, AmerisourceBergen’s support went beyond pricing, as the team anticipated our needs and made sure we were well-equipped to provide uninterrupted care. Thanks to their efforts, we were able to keep our doors open and serve every patient who walked through them, and honestly, I probably couldn’t have done that with anybody else. Some of our other suppliers cut us off right away. But I was able to get product from AmerisourceBergen. You knew it was important to get the infusions for our patients so they could get the care they needed when they needed it. That's value.
Value is not just the pricing structure. It's making sure that we can do the business that we must do every day to provide quality care. Surviving the COVID-19 pandemic with your support solidified my trust in our partnership.
Another challenge we face as a small practice is navigating how to get the right issues on the table with government legislators. With changing priorities arising every month, it's essential to have a partner that I can trust to stay on top of those policy issues for us and help raise our collective voices.
Recently, North Carolina Medicaid and their state plan sent a request for data from our Electronic Health Record (EHR). If we don't comply by the year-end, we can no longer accept Medicaid patients, even though we are currently the only ones in our community that work with them. The EHR company informed us that there will be a monthly fee to provide the state with the required data, putting us in a difficult position of either denying care to these patients or incurring financial losses. These types of challenges are constantly changing our practices and pushing them to an unsustainable level. With so many issues to tackle, the voice of small practices like ours can get lost and lead to little progress. That's why having a partner like you, who can help us address these issues and fight for quality healthcare, is crucial for us to stay in business.
I know we're a small practice, yet we are one of many in the U.S. who are at risk of closure due to unintended consequences of federal or state policy. That’s why it is so important to have a network through a partner like you so we can address these issues together—because we are all fighting for high-quality healthcare for everyone.