Post Pandemic Update: Are you doing everything you can to “Minimize” your ‘Pain-Points’? Is your Tech behind you?

By
Jonathan Jacobs
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Just two of the more recent news releases regarding Big Money and Independent Pharmacy show that stores are thriving and Investments follow the streams of dollars that flow through our Industry. Are all stores’ thriving ….No.  Are some stores’ doing well? Absolutely!! They must be doing something correctly?   Regardless of what sector of Pharmacy you may be in either retail, specialty, or LTC/ALF. Maximizing the well-established Pain-Points in our industry are vital to a stores survival and overall success!   There are several pain-points that are well known today such as: Drug Shortages, Prescription Adherence, Managing Inventory, Reimbursement & Cost Management-DIR Fee’s, Workflow.

Below are two brief major transactions in the Independent Pharmacy Sector I’d like to use as a Barometer of our Industry as it stands today.

“Transaction Data Systems (“TDS”), a leader in pharmacy software solutions and services, today announced that BlackRock Long Term Private Capital (“LTPC”) has acquired a majority interest in the company. TDS’ previous owner, GTCR, will retain a minority interest. LTPC will partner with the TDS management team-5/17/21*

“Francisco Partners, a leading technology-focused growth equity firm, has completed its acquisition of Smith Technologies, a leader in pharmacy technology and public sector software, from J M Smith Corporation. As it embarks on a new chapter as a standalone business, the company will be rebranded as RedSail Technologies™”. Under this new name, the company will continue to hold onto its three core product brands: QS/1®, Integra®, and PUBLIQ®-4/1/20*

Clearly the “Pain-Points” have not deterred people from getting involved and staying in the industry regardless of how profit margins may have diminished and chains have continued to gain ground on what was once wholly controlled by mom and pop operations. Big business is in Independent Pharmacy and is here to stay! So lets take a look from above at what many of us in the industry universally recognize as the constant of several “Pain-Points” and some ways you could better manage these challenges with the tech around you.

Drug Shortages –Drug shortages happen often enough, shortages occur seasonally with hurricanes and other natural disasters before we even discuss the Pandemics’ effects.  A host of other drug availability issues arise from recalls and supply chain issues. Many more stem from lower manufacturing capacity and lower margins on generics relative to their still-high production costs. The fact that so much is outside pharmacists’ control should not be cause for despair or inaction; instead, it simply underscores the necessity for making the most of those areas you can control. Do you use the buying groups data resources on when to buy? Do you review your PMS  system’s reports on your top selling drugs …by month and by season?  For instance do you maximize your robots cells’ properly?  Do you really need Claritin taking up valuable cell (Or Inventory/shelf space) in December?

Prescription Adherence- Understanding and improving prescription adherence means understanding why customers fall off the wagon in the first place. High prescription costs are one driver of non-adherence, but other factors — like patients who stop taking medication because they feel better, or those who weren’t properly educated on the use of their prescriptions in the first place — may need to be addressed at the pharmacy level. We at Point of Care Systems have many adherence level controls within our reports and graphical displays. Specific “ques” bring you directly to the work that effects your patients’ compliance keeping your store in good standing with your plans and Equips score based system.  The RxInsight Pharmacy Management System is supported by Prescribe Wellness. Their outbound based calling system is used to promote best practices relating to patient compliance and drug/disease-state education. *In addition we utilize the PW Vaccinations module moving forward with the Covid-19 Pandemics many vaccination programs.

Managing Inventory- Inside every pharmacy the shelf space is always limited.  The idea is to always be as lean as possible. If you’re plagued by overstock of drugs that are in low demand you are not using advice from your wholesaler or local buying group which will gladly let you know which drugs are popular within the surrounding zip codes of your store. If you can’t get this data you should talk to a rep from a competing wholesaler.  If you are losing money on returns to stock (RTS), or inaccurate cycle counts, your business will suffer. A good PMS and will-call system will keep track of unsigned for prescriptions so you can stay on top of what is sitting in the store still. Do you purchase wisely and go out of contract where allowed for generic specials? Once again our new PMS platform RxInsight can help you manage both and integrate with your local wholesalers.  If you’re still relying on an outmoded system, it’s time to reconsider; newer pharmacy management systems — especially when used in tandem with automation — will free up space, time, and money, both in the short and long term. If you’d like to see a demo or begin a discussion you can contact us at info@pocsrx.com

Reimbursement and Cost Management-Each of the above listed ‘pain points’ are impacted by, careful cost management. That’s especially true when the only thing more unpredictable than drug costs is the rates at which pharmacists will be reimbursed — a problem that’s only compounded when neither manufacturers’, wholesalers, nor PBMs are willing to own responsibility for their part in the issue.  I’ve gone this far without mentioning what everyone is thinking…..the dreaded DIR fee’s! Compounded when you’re a small neighborhood pharmacy that can’t count on the same economies of scale leveraged by bigger players like Target, CVS, and Walgreens. The DIR Fee’s can only be mitigated and managed not eliminated. This is the most oftenly mentioned and dramatic of  today’s pain points.  Your current buying group, wholesaler, local society (PSSNY for instance in New York) and PMS (Pharmacy Management System) should all have DIR mitigation strategies. A historical data feed to assist in providing upfront information regarding what you could expect to be ‘dinged’ or charged back based on said dispensed drugs.  RxInsight uses realtime data to present expected chargeback percentages for you and your business in the face of PBM’s DIR Fee’s. In addition we (Point of Care Systems) provide “Insightful” graphical representations of patients profitability in key business metrix categories so that a busy store owner or PIC can make flexible decisions regarding a patients profitability and prescription adherence.

Managing Workflow-There are, of course, other challenges faced daily by retail pharmacies. Customer retention, preventing prescription errors, patient education, and many more things weigh on our minds daily. While none of them lend themselves to quick fixes, the one thing each ‘Pain-Point’ shares in common is they can best be addressed with more time, whether it’s more time spent with each patient or more time spent on the right tasks. The proper technology addressing each situation will free additional time! Managing and optimizing pharmacy workflow eliminates waste and frees up time so you can spend more of it focusing on what you do best!  Once again our new PMS platform handles workflow completely unique to allow for both graphical and vertical translation of important data so that work overload can be properly managed and staff allocation will always be appropriate.

If you’d like to see for yourself. RxInsight’s staff is always available for an online or in-person conversation to discuss how our new PMS platform can help you and your pharmacy operation. Contact Jonathan Jacobs at info@pocsrx.com Please remember to dig into your available technology and seek out the solutions that best serve your needs.

Point of Care systems has many articles related to the above listed topic and other Industry related concerns. Please take a look at some of the below listed links to important features and additional articles.  In addition to the links for some important organizations as you review your current technology.

www.pssny.org

www.prescribewellness.com

Top 20 Wholesalers list

Navigating the Maze: DIR Fees

For many pharmacists, unlocking the data within your systems is the key to success

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