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Dignity Health and Shields Health Solutions Bring Affordable Medication and Services to Patients with Complex Chronic Illnesses

Specialty Pharmacy will Improve Health Outcomes and Reduce Cost of Care


San Francisco, Calif. – March 26, 2019 Dignity Health, one of the nation’s largest health systems that is a part of the new national health system, CommonSpirit Health, and Shields Health Solutions, a leading specialty pharmacy integrator, announced today a joint venture that will bring specialty pharmacy services to patients, improving health outcomes and reducing the cost of care. The Dignity Health Specialty Pharmacy program, leveraging Shields’ knowledge and experience, will offer high-touch personalized patient support for people living with complex chronic illnesses.


A driver of rising health care costs, the use of specialty drugs to treat complex diseases is increasing 17 percent per year and comprises 50 percent of total drug spend today. In addition, whereas, in 1990, there were only ten specialty drugs available, this has now increased to 300, with another 700 in the pipeline. This will increase the complexity of treatment adherence for patients using these specialty medications to treat their conditions.  


In contrast to mail-order and corner store retail pharmacies, Dignity Health’s specialty pharmacy program dispenses medications for complex diseases that require close patient monitoring and support for long periods of time. More than 20 disease states are eligible for Dignity Health’s enhanced clinical pharmacy program, including arthritis, cancer, cystic fibrosis, multiple sclerosis, transplants, and other chronic conditions.


“As we look to the future of how health care is delivered across the U.S., it is clear that the continuum of care must extend beyond the doctor/patient relationship when treating complex disease states,” said Peggy Sanborn, VP, strategic growth, M&A, and partnership integration at Dignity Health. “Our specialty pharmacy partnership with Shields provides Dignity Health’s patients with an additional layer of care to help manage many chronic conditions. When patients have easier access to affordable prescription medications and the support of an integrated care team, the overall health of our communities improves.”


Addressing the need for more consumer-centric access to health care, Shields has found that the specialty pharmacy model can reduce medication co-payments from hundreds, sometimes thousands of dollars, to an average of co-pay of $10. Time-to-therapy can also be reduced from several weeks to an average of two days, and physician administrative paperwork can be reduced by thousands of hours, allowing providers to focus their saved time on patient care.


“Dignity Heath has earned a reputation as a premier provider of care,” said Jack Shields, CEO, Shields Health Solutions. “We are delighted to add to that tradition of excellence and innovation by adding  hospital-owned specialty pharmacy services to their health care system. We look forward to working with the incredibly talented team at Dignity Health to integrate this pharmacy model into the patient care continuum.”


This fully-integrated care model enables a central point of care for Dignity Health’s patients and their care teams, and is available 24/7. The Dignity Health Specialty Pharmacy enhanced clinical pharmacy program also provides patients with a high level of support from clinical pharmacists. With full access to medical records and drug panels, these pharmacists can engage with patients in greater depth about the management of their conditions. A dedicated patient liaison can also help patients sort through insurance coverage, financial assistance, travel, coordinating clinic appointments, medication delivery, and home care—all factors that impact health outcomes.


“Providing enhanced clinical programs and additional support resources through a hospital-owned specialty pharmacy has proven to dramatically simplify medication and care management for patients,” said Marla Weigert, system VP for pharmacy services at Dignity Health; president Dignity Health Specialty Pharmacy. “As medication affordability is known as one of the best predictors of medication adherence, our goal is to reduce overall health care expenses on these specialty medications so patients don’t have to choose between paying for food or treating their chronic condition.”


The hospital-based specialty pharmacy for Dignity Health at the St. Joseph’s Hospital and Medical Center campus located in Phoenix will be the centralized hub supporting all Dignity Health locations.


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About Dignity Health
Dignity Health is a multi-state nonprofit network of 10,000 physicians, more than 60,000 employees, 41 acute care hospitals, and 400-plus care-centers, including community hospitals, urgent care, surgery and imaging centers, home health, and primary care clinics in Arizona, California, and Nevada. Dignity Health is dedicated to providing compassionate, high-quality, and affordable patient-centered care with special attention to the poor and underserved. In FY 2018, Dignity Health provided $2.1 billion in charitable care and services. Dignity Health is a part of CommonSpirit Health, a nonprofit health system committed to advancing health for all people and dedicated to serving the common good. For more information, please visit our website at



About Shields Health Solutions
Shields Health Solutions is a specialty pharmacy integrator and care provider, partnering with hospital leaders on every aspect of specialty pharmacy creation, growth and management. The company provides the fastest, lowest risk model for health systems to create a hospital-owned specialty pharmacy program. In doing so, Shields provides health systems with on-site pharmacy and care professionals, a purpose-built specialty pharmacy technology platform, and access to 80+ percent of all limited distribution drugs (LDDs) and most (health insurance) payors in the nation. Shields provides ownership of all specialty pharmacy assets in a health system’s name.




Joann Wardrip
Dignity Health
(415) 438-5543 

Kiera McManus

Publish date: 

Tuesday, March 26, 2019