PHARMACY

Pharmacies leverage data to improve patient outcomes

BY Richard Monks

Employing sophisticated technology and a broad range of customer information is central to community pharmacies' ongoing efforts to play a greater role in managing patients' health, according to industry sources.

"Besides capturing all of their prescription-related data, pharmacies should mine their patients’ point-of-sale data," Innovation VP of global business development Doyle Jensen told Drug Store News.

"Using both categories of data, pharmacies can better analyze their patients’ medication profiles and disease states combined with purchasing trends, and pinpoint potentially useful and discounted over-the-counter products, vitamins, nutraceuticals, durable medical equipment and so on," he said. "The POS system can then provide valuable coupons for discounts on these products during checkout, or pharmacy staff can make recommendations on products they believe could be helpful to patients."

Technology providers stress that offering a more comprehensive approach to patient care is essential for community pharmacies as they continue to seek ways to be part of a broad-based, team-focused patient care solution.

"With the pharmacist being one of the most accessible players on the healthcare team, being able to have a holistic view of the patient is key," LexisNexis – Health Care director of pharmacy Bobbie Riley said. "Being able to gain access within workflow to individual patient’s social determinants of health will help us tailor patient engagement strategies to improve adherence and drive more positive outcomes."

While using technology is helping pharmacies keep patients safe and compliant, it also is raising their profile as critical healthcare providers.

"Because front-end pharmacy operations are already overwhelmed, technology can be a key in minimizing wasted time and human error, and maximizing the pharmacist’s time for patient care," said Frank Maione, chief business officer at PreceptiMed, the creator of the VeriFill and IdentRx systems that help ensure prescription accuracy. "The automations and verifications that technology can provide in labor redeployment through remote applications and by reducing human error should result in long-term return on investment."

The impact technology can have on the bottom line and a pharmacy's standing in the healthcare continuum, Maione and others said, cannot be overstated.

"Not only is it a pharmacist’s passion to provide the best patient care, community pharmacies must be prepared to keep patients compliant and adherent because their five-star ratings depend on it," QS/1 retail interface analyst Crystal Ratliff said. 

Such long-used technologies as automation, IVR and the ability to order refills online and via mobile apps, as well as more recent developments, such as electronic prescribing and telepharmacy, have made pharmacies more efficient and responsive to patients' needs, she noted. As a result, a growing number of patients across the country are relying on their neighborhood pharmacist for a wider range of healthcare services.

As technology gives community pharmacies the ability to be part of a collaborative healthcare team, outcomes are improving, and more patients are taking their medications properly.

"As pharmacists, we must collaborate with our software friends to provide us with the medication risk mitigation tool we need to effect change and eliminate adverse drug events," Tabla Rasa HealthCare CEO Calvin Knowlton said during a speech to the American Society for Automation in Pharmacy in July. "It is time to integrate the science that underlies our medication safety metrics into our pharmacy technology and systems."

Among the more recent tools developed to improve compliance is the recent alliance between LexisNexis Risk Solutions and eRx Network.

According to the companies, the partnership combines LexisNexis data on more than 8.5 million providers with eRx Network's real-time pharmacy network, letting pharmacies perform comprehensive prescription compliance checks in real-time. The solution, they noted, uses the existing pharmacy connectivity of eRx Network and requires little to no integration or maintenance by a pharmacy chain.

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Q&A: ScriptPro’s Coughlin talks tech as vehicle for improved patient care

BY DSN STAFF
Between ensuring their patients receive the proper medication, working to improve patient adherence to meet quality measures, offering enhanced clinical services and acting as an active member of their patients’ care team, pharmacists are spread thin. In order to spend more time providing quality interactions with patients, pharmacies are increasingly looking to technology as a way to ease their workload to provide better patient-facing care.
 
Drug Store News spoke with ScriptPro president and CEO Mike Coughlin to discusss how his company works to help pharmacists tackle the various time-consuming elements of the job in order to facilitate quality patient interactions. 
 
Drug Store News: With consumers taking greater control of their own health, how is your company helping community pharmacists use technology to better engage patients, improve the patient experience in pharmacy and/or improve communication with patients?
Mike Coughlin: Pharmacists should view every opportunity to interact with a patient as an opportunity to build and strengthen the relationship. Quality interaction requires time and the ability to focus on the patient without distractions. ScriptPro's robotics-enabled workflow system frees up time and eliminates the distractions of worrying about making errors or getting the work done on time. ScriptPro systems also allow pharmacists and staff to document information about the patient and trigger follow-up notes so patients know you have a personal interest in meeting their needs.
 
DSN: As pharmacists work to achieve provider status and continue to play a greater role in healthcare delivery, how is your company enabling community pharmacists to practice at the top of their license?
MC: Provider status requires a high level of clinical documentation and case management. ScriptPro extends its workflow systems through its Advanced Pharmacy Clinical Services application. APCS is built on the pharmacy operating platform so medications requiring special attention — such as a first-fill analysis for specialty medications — will automatically invoke the necessary considerations and procedures before dispensing.
 
DSN: Medication adherence remains one of the most cost-effective ways to lower total healthcare costs and deliver improved outcomes. How is your company helping community pharmacy solve for this big opportunity to improve health care?
MC: ScriptPro's Meds-to-Beds applications have helped health systems obtain measurable, dramatic reductions in readmission rates. This is the first step in guiding patients towards medication adherence. ScriptPro's APCS application is used to systematically assess patients with chronic diseases and update their medication therapies. Patient refill and pickup reminder functions are built into the ScriptPro pharmacy management system.  
 
DSN: How is your company helping community pharmacies drive greater efficiency in their business whether in terms of inventory management, optimizing workflow, or keeping ahead of reimbursement challenges, etc.?
MC: ScriptPro provides overall financial assessment and strategic planning services that address enterprise ambulatory pharmacy planning, workflow optimization, inventory management and margin analysis. ScriptPro's Third Party Management System (TPMS) shines a bright light on payer and contract performance issues and provides detailed exception reports to document variations from contract and make demands for payment. Special TPMS features address the current DIR Fee crisis that is undermining pharmacies today.
 
DSN: As pharmacy continues to focus more broadly on outcomes and implementing more clinical services, how is your company helping pharmacy retailers better manage the vast amounts of data they need to deal with on a daily basis that comes as a part of that?
MC: ScriptPro can provide data warehouse services or feed your existing data warehouse. State-of-the-art reporting and analysis tools are available to utilize the data for strategic services.
 
DSN: As healthcare providers look to form unique partnerships to better manage patient populations, deliver improved outcomes and better manage financial risk, how is your company helping to connect the expanded patient care team?
MC: ScriptPro provides an end-to-end solution spanning payer contract management through dispensing, patient case management and revenue cycle management. ScriptPro is truly a "one stop shop" for standing up and operating a single retail pharmacy or a large, specialty pharmacy-focused enterprise.
 
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AAM-commissioned report: Biosimilars can save CMS $11.4B by 2027

BY David Salazar

WASHINGTON — A new report from the Moran Co. for the Association for Accessible Medicines and its Biosimilars Council is projecting big savings to the federal government from biosimilars in the next 10 years. But the estimated $11.4 billion in savings would require the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services to revise the way it currently reimburses for biosimilar drugs.

Currently, CMS groups all biosimilars of a reference product under one billing code and payment rate. Such organizations as the National Association of Chain Drug Stores, CVS Health, Express Scripts and the Pharmaceutical Care Management Association, among others, recently wrote to CMS administrator Seema Verma calling on a change to the policy earlier this month.

The introduction of biosimilars in the EU market has led to a substantial and immediate reduction in the average price for the biosimilar and originator products,” the letter said. “A sustainable and robust biosimilars market, such as the EU market, is built upon creating incentives for manufacturers to continue to develop lower cost alternatives to costly originator biologics, like expanded patient volume and access. Separate codes for non-interchangeable biosimilars help stimulate future competitors to the market.”

The Moran Co. report highlights that while the current policy would create short-term savings, they come at the expense of more savings in the long-term, potentially leading biosimilars manufacturers to exit the market over time or not enter it at all.

“Shifting biosimilar reimbursement to unique codes increases patient access to more affordable, life-saving medicine and lowers prescription drug spending,” Biosimilars Council executive director and AAM SVP policy and strategic alliances Christine Simmon said.  “This policy is critical to the development of a thriving biosimilars medicine market. This new report highlights the significant cost savings possible for both patients and payers if CMS implements this recommendation.”

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