Tools to boost outcomes, cut costs, are imperative

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While COVID-19 has changed a great deal of process and procedures, it hasn’t changed the fact that patient care is still front and center. With more states continuing to allow some level of prescribing by pharmacists, continued partnerships with payers in a true value-based model of care requires thinking outside the box on how to best provide services that add to their value as a member of the patient’s care team. Tools that help pharmacies better treat their patients — ultimately improving patient outcomes and reducing the overall cost of care — are of the utmost importance.

As pharmacy technology continues to advance, pharmacies are beginning to shift their focus to implementing solutions that not only help them deliver better patient care but also drive improvements in their clinical, operational, financial and regulatory compliance as well. Use of these technologies can improve quality of care, help lower pharmacy costs, and strengthen the pharmacy’s financial performance. Not to mention better manage unforeseen challenges like we’ve see with the COVID-19 pandemic.

With pharmacies serving an important role on the front lines, technology plays an increasing role in helping them manage patient care while keeping their staff safe. The software and solutions that many McKesson Pharmacy Systems customers already have in place make it possible for them to stay open and continue serving their patients with confidence. However, we’ve been proactively working with them to adjust their needs while still having access to critical patient data.

With a centrally hosted pharmacy management system like EnterpriseRx, pharmacists have secure access to their data at all times, making it possible for some staff to work remotely or manage certain tasks from another location. And with integrated tools like Clinical Programs Solution (CPS) the pharmacist has robust reporting and documentation of pharmacist-provided clinical services right within workflow to support medical care reimbursement.

CPS also offers a preconfigured COVID-19 evaluation and plan of care program. An enrollment message is generated within the daily workflow when pharmacy staff fills a prescription for a patient 18 years of age or older. The staff is then notified to follow up with the patient every 90 days to manage risk. This is important because it gives the pharmacy a checklist to help assess and document risks, provide education, improve adherence and make recommendations for further testing. It can also help identify at-risk patients that may benefit from things like enhanced contactless services when returning to the pharmacy.

We’re also helping them rethink their current models to offer additional amenities like drive-thru and delivery options or even mail-order services with our High Volume Solutions business. Fulfilling more maintenance medications and refills this way can help limit personal contact and instituting a more robust Med Sync program can help reduce the number of trips a patient needs to make to the pharmacy. Though when a trip to the pharmacy is necessary, we don’t want them waiting for their prescriptions to be filled.

The Promise Time Prediction functionality within EnterpriseRx allows the pharmacist to “predict” promise times for incoming new, electronic prescriptions based on defined criteria. This feature evaluates previously filled priority and acute prescriptions and user-defined thresholds when determining the best delivery option and promise time.

Lapses in medication adherence continue to be a leading contributor to poor outcomes and tend to come as a result of three factors: affordability, ease of access and how the patient feels while on therapy. Forty percent of prescriptions written are not filled, with cost being the No. 1 prohibitive factor. Thirty-three percent of prescriptions that require a prior authorization by a PBM are abandoned with no alternative therapy in place, and nearly 83% of prescriptions are not refilled as prescribed, due to a combination of patient forgetfulness, unexpected side effects or lack of noticeable health improvement experienced by the patient.

Just as with the programs to help document COVID-19 response, integrating clinical programs into the EnterpriseRx workflow can be extremely effective in helping identify nonadherent patients and patients at risk of becoming nonadherent. These solutions provide a means to document and manage patient care, as well as alert the pharmacist to have meaningful counseling sessions to evaluate reasons for nonadherence and opportunities to improve patient outcomes. Often simple changes such as adjusting the dosing regimen, synchronizing medication refills, or offering delivery services can help increase adherence. McKesson can also help the pharmacy make it easier for patients to take their drugs through automation of adherence packaging options such as pill pouches and blister cards.

Implementing a combination of technology solutions gives the pharmacy the ability to improve efficiencies, advance reporting capabilities, enhance professional reputation, and expand patient engagements and outcomes.

Maureen Meyer is vice president of product management at McKesson Pharmacy Systems.



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