Is What We Knew Last Month Now History?
Who reading here believes that what we thought we knew last month is now history? In our environ of rapid, almost immediate (if not daily) changes, how will these challenges cause our customer service and patient-oriented adherence activities to change?
Being successful as a pharmacy owner or hospital outpatient pharmacy director today demands constant awareness of the proposed national mandates… and more importantly… immediate understanding of the impact on the pharmacy’s ROI (return on investment). Knowing which low-level profitable pharmacy workflow activities demand the most time to complete can allow pharmacy workflow adjustments so less time is spent on these human resource consuming efforts.
These understandings can be used to improve ROI success… even though they are unique to each and every pharmacy. Will this knowledge support establishment of more available time that can be used in the high-level profitable areas? It can when selected pharmacy workflow functions are re-assigned and enhanced patient education occurs. A major result is enhanced medication adherence by patients.
Challenges to ROI Come From Everywhere
Today, challenges to pharmacy ROI are more frequent with many a result of the virtualization trends that are occurring. What do you know about mAdherence (mobile adherence) and mHealth (mobile health) and how they can impact ROI?
It’s well known that the solution to any problem lies at the base of that problem. With this in mind, why not accelerate implementation of mAdherence and mHealth efforts to support awareness of the high-level profitable pharmacy workflow activities? Which elements or steps of pharmacy workflow and patient education for medication and therapy adherence can be categorized low-level profitable or high-level profitable? No doubt the categorization will be unique to each pharmacy operation, yet there are some similarities.
Defining the Time-Takers, the Time-Savers and the Money-Makers
Rather than abruptly considering Time-Takers as “aliens invading our pharmacy workflow planet”, most pharmacists understand several time-taker type activities fall into two categories: pharmacy workflow and secondly, patient education/medication and therapy adherence activities completed by the pharmacist and staff. Within traditional pharmacy workflow, simple casual observation suggests the selection/counting/filling/verification and prescription adjudication areas are the largest Time-Takers. It is also easy to consider the effort (and time) needed to complete patient education and adherence activities as another Time-Taker.
But which Time-Savers are available to challenge these Time-Takers? How might the Time-Savers convert Time-Takers into Money-Makers? The Time-Taker activity of selection/counting/filling/verification activity can be easily and quickly converted. The answer: Automated Pharmacy Dispensing. Numerous systems for automated counting and automated dispensing are available in today’s automation environ. Only certain of these systems however can eliminate as many as 7-9 of the necessary steps involved in the selection/counting/filling/verification sequence. Prescription adjudication, insurance problem solving and therapy management adjustments by the pharmacist… on the other hand… can also often be another time-consuming effort (opportunity?).
Some independent pharmacies and select hospital outpatient pharmacies dedicate senior pharmacy technicians to solve potential adjudication issues or care transition needs in advance of the dispensing and education/adherence process. Upcoming fills for any individual can be pre-screened for possible insurance issues, combination with other forthcoming refills, pre-authorization of payments for medication therapy management and other health-supporting activities (immunizations, body mass, etc.).
Working through whether or not a patient has an insurance payer that will support medication therapy management efforts before any discussion with the patient saves considerable discussion time later, allows them to understand the complexity of the activity and diffuses patient aggravation.
Are Pharmacy Case Managers An Answer?
The concept of pharmacy-completed, patient-specific, healthcare “case management” approaches are new to the profession. With support from full-time (as opposed to part-time) senior certified and registered pharmacy technicians responsible for specific patients, these technicians can work with the patient/customer supporting the advance of the patient’s health improvement. These approaches are not unlike those being using by hospital outpatient pharmacies in their care transition efforts for discharged patients.
Incorporation of mAdherence (mobile adherence) and mHealth (mobile health) through the use of specifically designed smart phone apps with this case manager approach converts the Time-Takers into Time-Savers enlarging Money-Maker opportunities. The patients subsequently feel they are a family member of the “pharmacy” and have a pharmacy medication/therapy home.
Although it would first appear most Time-Takers might never be considered Money-Makers, the use of adjustments in approach to effecting traditional pharmacy workflow and patient adherence activities can actually elevate these Time-Takers into Time-Savers and Money-Makers.