Jenny Sherak: As Senior Vice President and President of Specialty Physician Services, I focus on the strategic direction of AmerisourceBergen’s services for specialty physician practices, which range from oncology, neurology and rheumatology to ophthalmology, gastroenterology and other specialties. Every day, we optimize the value we deliver to this clientele while developing and executing new technology solutions and programs for the benefit of practices and patients.
Previously, I was Global Head of Oncology Pipeline Commercialization and Business Development at Takeda Pharmaceuticals. In this role, I was responsible for defining long and short term growth strategies for the Oncology business unit. I have worked to ensure the continued growth of the company by maximizing the innovative global immuno-oncology pipeline while leveraging external collaborations, mergers and acquisitions.
I have spent my career helping fuel the pipeline of new oncology products, particularly those that could be used in the community setting, and now I am excited to provide these and other specialty products to community physicians, so most patients ultimately have access to therapies that improve or save life. One of the things that my experience has shown me is how essential this connection between the manufacturer or developer of pharmaceuticals and the doctor in the community is. I have seen with my own eyes how complex both sides of the relationship are, and now I have the opportunity to help bring these two worlds together as successfully as possible and to collaborate with our partners to advance health.
How would you describe your approach to customer relations?
For me, it’s about creating partnerships based on mutual respect, trust, communication and good support. The pharmaceuticals we deliver to doctors’ offices treat complex illnesses, and these therapies can be expensive and fragile. We know how important it is to offer the right product to the right customer at the right time because human life is expected and often depends on it. It’s a responsibility I don’t take lightly – I believe in being reliable out of respect for what our clients do and what patients experience. At the same time, it is extremely important for me to listen deeply to our customers and to hear what is difficult for them. We challenge ourselves to think creatively and be their partner in order to facilitate their work. It’s not just about dropping off the drug, but how can we help identify the right patient, ensure the practice can receive and administer the treatment, ensure reimbursement, and help the patient obtain financial assistance. I believe that, in a partnership, we should ask ourselves, every day, what else? What more can we do?
How have the needs of medical offices evolved in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic?
In the first months of pandemic ‘stay at home’ orders, community physicians saw a 40% drop in new patient visits as well as a 100% increase in cancellations and no-shows. The fall in patient volumes has created new financial constraints for them. and, as a result, fifty percent of private practices had to lay off office staff.
Despite the uncertainty, our medical practice clients adapted and moved very quickly to adjust business operations to meet patients where they felt most comfortable, whether it was implement telehealth capabilities, revise office workflow to accommodate patients in a socially distant, front-line business, and more. After 15 months, we are seeing our oncology practice clients, as well as all specialties, return to ânormalâ or âpre-COVIDâ patient volumes, which is encouraging on several levels.
This return of patients to our medical practices also has implications for our pharmaceutical partners. In fact, I believe that one of the most critical services provided by AmerisourceBergen’s specialty division is using our sophisticated analytics and algorithms to monitor the types of patients entering the practices we serve and help identify peak needs in specific products. Not only does this data allow us to help medical practices better navigate inventory management, reimbursement needs and changing workflows, but we also seamlessly turn this data into a resource that helps our pharmacy partners and biotechnologies to better manage their supply chain.
What services and solutions have proven most useful for practices in a changing healthcare landscape?
At AmerisourceBergen, our specialty physician office solutions connect practices with products, technology and information that aim to maximize efficiency and improve the patient experience, allowing physicians to focus on patient care. . Our technology solutions and consulting expertise help firms optimize every aspect of their business, from workflow management to financial operations.
Considering all the changes that the practices have gone through over the past year and continue to undergo, we have seen an increased dependence on their partners, and the main one is their GPO. We work closely with practices to ensure they have access to the most advanced therapies at competitive contract rates, but our work goes beyond that. Our experts take pride in helping member firms harness their business’ potential and support their patients, which includes accessing clinical trials, navigating reimbursement, and resolving barriers to patient care. Our GPOs were created to help community practitioners realize more value on everything from pharmaceuticals and diagnostics to surgical and medical equipment. We partner, on behalf of our customers, with the country’s leading pharmaceutical and biotech manufacturers to provide a range of products on contractual terms, but even more so, we help ensure their products reach the patients who need them.
In fact, one thing that excites me a lot is our ability to support physician practices and implement precision medicine. As therapies are increasingly tailored to each patient, it is essential that we support community practices through the implications of these advancements, be it access, workflow, or otherwise. For example, we have new solutions that we’re going to roll out in the short term that help speed up the process of matching an individual patient with the right treatment, whether in the market or in a clinical trial, for their specific condition and disease. genetic makeup. At the same time, we propose and continue to develop tools that support adherence strategies from the start of treatment, including the identification of financial support or co-payment assistance for patients in order to make therapies more affordable.
Ultimately, my team’s goal is to connect community practices and drug companies in a way that promotes patient outcomes, product adherence, and long-term success. We strive to create the best possible access to products and provide actionable data insights that support our collective understanding of physician and patient needs. We use our extensive global distribution network and extensive industry expertise to simplify and optimize product access while providing expert advice and GPO contracts to help each practice thrive.
How do you envision innovation in solutions for physician practice over the next five years?
With the potential of more than 40 breakthrough cell and gene therapy products approaching FDA approval by 2024, we are continually looking for innovative ways to successfully support the next wave of therapies and the physicians and patients who will want it. to access. Allogeneic therapies have a huge advantage over first-generation autologous CAR-T cell therapy and are likely to become more accessible to physicians and patients in the hope that they will continue to provide many benefits for patients. As healthcare progresses, so too must the processes for connecting patients to the therapies they need.
Innovative delivery systems, such as cell and gene therapy, require new levels of coordination, from complex logistics to provider preparation and patient services, to ensure treatment success. These are game-changing therapies, but there are some limitations as they must be administered in certified hospital settings. Our job is to support physician-led practices so that they are ready to administer these advanced and expensive treatments, and that is what excites me the most. Our experts provide market access, reimbursement, and information on specific therapeutic areas to help practices understand the unique market landscape. Not only are we looking to make sure our practices are ready for the next wave, from a logistical and data support standpoint, but also from a patient identification standpoint. As we prepare our pharmaceutical, biotech, and medical practice partners for the coming future, we challenge ourselves to think about how we should prepare for this very different reimbursement and payment model. Overall, AmerisourceBergen’s specialist division aims to ensure patients have access to new and innovative life-saving therapies, through their nearest provider, at the best price. We strive to ensure that people around the world are living the healthiest lives possible.