What is the Appointment-Based Model, or ABM? According to a recent Pharmacy Times article, it’s a care model that allows pharmacists to deliver “high-quality, cost-effective, patient-centered care to meet the demands of a changing health care landscape and ensure the sustainability of community pharmacy practice.” Sign us up.
Delving further, it’s exactly what it sounds like. Instead of simply filling prescriptions and waiting for the patient to pick them up, the patient comes to the pharmacy at a pre-appointed time to pick up all their medications for that month. While there, the pharmacist can use the appointment time for medication therapy management, patient counseling, or clinical care services.
ABM: More Than Just Med Sync
On the surface, it would be easy to confuse the appointment-based model with medication synchronization. But med sync is only one part of ABM. The American Pharmacists’ Association (APhA) lists five parts to the typical appointment-based model:
- Identify & Enroll Patients: Identify which of your patients would benefit most from an appointment-based model. This could include patients with multiple medications, patients with medication adherence problems, or simply patients who need to make fewer trips to the pharmacy. Introduce them to the program, and enroll them if they’re interested.
- Set Up Medication Synchronization: You know the drill here. Using a med sync solution (or, if you feel like torturing yourself with hours and hours of extra work, a spreadsheet), enroll your patient in medication synchronization. Set the pickup date to one that you and your patient agree on, then do short fills to get all of their prescriptions to that point.
- Pre-Appointment Phone Call: Reach out to the patient a few days to a week before the appointment date and confirm the prescriptions to be filled as well as other services to be offered at the appointment. If anything changes, make adjustments as necessary.
- Appointment & Medication Preparation: Prepare the patient’s prescriptions ahead of the appointment. Also, go over any potential adherence issues or other topics for discussion. You have a limited amount of time with your patient, so be prepared.
- Meet with Patient for Appointment: This is your opportunity for medication therapy management, discussions on how to improve medication adherence, and clinical services like immunizations or diagnostic tests. Send the patient home with their month’s supply of medication, prescription instructions, and a penciled-in appointment for next month.
Appointment-based models of care make sense, but that doesn’t mean it’s an easy switch. When a pharmacy has been functioning on a primarily fill-and-bill format, making time for patient-centered care can be a challenge. But it’s worth it. Here are four reasons why:
Reason 1: Improved Medication Adherence in Patients
Sometimes, patients don’t take their medications as prescribed. We know, shocker. But med sync programs have been proven to fight adherence issues. No more juggling prescriptions or finding the time to make it to the drugstore — your patient has one appointment per month, then they’re set for the next thirty days.
Reason 2: More Opportunities for Expanded Care Services
If you book thirty minutes with your ABM patient, that’s thirty minutes that you have their attention and they have yours. You can perform a comprehensive medication review and adjust prescriptions as needed. You can schedule clinical care services, like immunizations, during this time. We don’t think you’ll have trouble figuring out how to fill a half-hour of dedicated pharmacist-patient time.
Reason 3: More Efficient Pharmacy Workflow
When you know the date and time a patient will be arriving, it helps you prioritize prescription fills. If they’re coming tomorrow afternoon, you can fill their prescriptions in the morning and take care of the other dozen scrips that need to be filled in the next hour. “First come, first serve” will just raise your blood pressure. Sorting orders by appointment date will make a huge difference in your pharmacy workflow.
Reason 4: More Efficient Inventory Management
Predictability rules. When you know exactly when you’re going to need something, it doesn’t have to take up space on your shelf. ABM allows you to order medications and equipment with a specific date in mind. That way, you don’t have to worry about storage or potential expiration and waste.
The appointment-based model is gaining popularity as more and more drugstores move toward becoming new era pharmacies. Flip the Pharmacy, a nationwide pharmacy transformation effort, is dedicated to helping pharmacies become comprehensive care providers for their communities, and the appointment-based model is large part of that. By switching to his model, you improve patient outcomes and you build in more time for revenue-boosting clinical care services. It’s time to leave fill-and-bill behind.