December 13, 2019- One patient immediately comes to mind when Jessica Larsen-Gallup is asked to explain how powerful the 340B drug pricing program can be for patients. The effect that 340B had on this patient can only be described as life changing.
Jessica is the director of pharmacy business and analytics at Avera McKennan Hospital & University Health Center in Sioux Falls, S.D., part of the Avera Health System that serves patients in South Dakota, Iowa, Minnesota, and Nebraska. Jessica recalls how one patient in rural Nebraska had been struggling for more than a decade to manage her hemoglobin A1C levels despite having access to insulin. Avera used its 340B savings to send a nurse coordinator to the patient’s home to provide direct assistance with managing her disease. As the nurse watched the patient give herself an insulin injection, the problem immediately became clear.
“She realized that the patient wasn’t even removing the cap from her pen and had not been injecting herself with her insulin,” Jessica said. “Through that experience, we were able to help the patient control her disease.”
Jessica is the latest profile in our Faces of 340B series. Her story is a dramatic one involving bringing care directly into a patient’s home. But there are many more stories of 340B helping patients receive the care they need close to home. In such rural areas, this local access is key to ensuring that travel is not a barrier to patient care.
Avera McKennan has used its 340B savings to provide oncology care as well as offer transplantation services. It is the only hospital that provides bone marrow transplants in its community. Without this service, patients would need to drive four-and-a-half hours to the next closest hospital for the crucial operation.
This fall, Avera McKennan opened an addiction care center to help meet its community’s need for treating patients living with substance use disorders. 340B savings contributed to the launch of the project, which will use a variety of evidence-based treatments to help patients become healthier.
The 25 Avera hospitals that participate in 340B all use their program savings to offer expanded health care to their communities. Jessica is concerned that reductions in that assistance would imperil the existence of such expanded services.
“If 340B were to go away or be scaled back, it would be devastating to the Avera Health System,” Jessica said.
Check out Jessica’s video profile on our Faces of 340B page.