How Advanced Care Provider Network used FDS ENGAGE to go from time-consuming manual processes to smart, automated medication synchronization success
Located about 45 minutes west of Ann Arbor in Jackson, Michigan is the headquarters of Advanced Care Provider Network. What started out as a single corner drug store in 1959 has now expanded to eight pharmacies, two DME locations, and an audiology practice.
“We wanted to offer a national best practice platform but still keep our small-town feel,” said Austin Brown, Vice President of Advanced Care Provider Network and a fourth-generation pharmacist. Together, Austin and his wife Erika — whom he met while both were studying at the University of Michigan College of Pharmacy — endeavored to provide the same level of patient care as the business grew. But that didn’t come without its share of challenges.
“We didn’t want to compromise our service.”
Before they expanded, Advanced Care had more time to dedicate to the things that endeared them to their community. They had more time to talk with patients, and more time to work through complex medication issues and insurance matters. As they grew, it became harder to keep up with that same level of assistance, let alone expand on it.
“We didn’t want to compromise our service,” said Erika Brown, Director of Clinical Services for Advanced Care Provider Network. “We needed to figure out how we would still be able to do these things as we continued to grow.”
Their pharmacies also had a reputation for being problem-solvers. Through word-of-mouth and provider referrals, they would often get their community’s more challenging patients — patients with complex medication regimens, economic difficulties, and other issues. These patients required more time and due diligence, but the pharmacy was always up to the task. Unfortunately, the time needed to help these patients meant less time for others. As they took on more and more challenging patients, they noticed that patients with simpler needs were falling through the cracks. They figured there was just too much to do and not enough people to do it.
To tackle their increasing workload, Advanced Care expanded their staff. But they soon discovered that adding team members was not helping.
“[It] didn’t solve the problem,” said Erika. “We needed to figure out the root cause.”
But growing pains weren’t their only issue.
When Erika Brown joined Advanced Care Provider Network in August 2018, she took on the pharmacy network’s medication synchronization program. At the time, Advanced Care’s various locations all performed med sync manually using electronic calendars, spreadsheets, or pen and paper. Working with technicians at different sites, Erika spent an average of 3 to 4 hours every day working on med sync.
“I was hired as the Director of Clinical Services,” she said. “I wanted to expand the diabetes self-management education program and build a hypertension program. But I was spending so much time on med sync, I didn’t have time to do my actual job.”
Using FDS ENGAGE to improve med sync & pharmacy workflow
It turns out, the Browns didn’t need more staff to handle their increased workload — they just needed more time. “We figured out that we needed to improve our efficiency and our workflow,” said Erika.
As a member of American Pharmacies, the Browns were already familiar with FDS. They had previously seen success with the FDS-developed RxCOMPASS analytics platform, so they were eager to see what FDS’s patient management and workflow solution — FDS ENGAGE — could do for their workflow issues.
Getting started with FDS ENGAGE was simple, and each Advanced Care location was up and running on the platform in no time. “You don’t have to be a computer wizard to figure it out,” joked Erika.
Each Advanced Care pharmacy location manages its own med sync program using the platform, freeing up considerable time for Erika. Plus, she knows that if any technicians have questions or concerns, they can turn to FDS’s support team for help.
“With FDS, you have a dedicated consultant and customer service who can help answer your questions and work through different things and optimize the service for your pharmacy,” she said. “I haven’t seen that anywhere else. Absolutely top-notch customer service.”
Becoming the standout in their market
Because of the services they offer, the Advanced Care Provider Network became a standout in their market. Healthcare providers in their community refer patients to their pharmacies specifically because of their medication synchronization and delivery programs.
After implementing ENGAGE, Erika was able to relinquish all her med sync responsibilities to a technician. She completely freed up her time as a pharmacist, allowing her to actually do the job she was hired to do. She was able to work on creating and establishing policies and procedures, even delving into emergency preparedness and emergency management. (Her plans came in handy during the early stages of the COVID-19 pandemic.) She now had time to develop policies and procedures for each of their sites, all of which had different needs and operating models.
Advanced Care pharmacies are now spending less time managing med sync and more time on qualifying and enrolling new patients. Which is good, since their med sync program has been attracting community-wide attention. Word of mouth, combined with increased provider referrals, have led to higher enrollment. As of 2020, Advanced Care has a third of their eligible patients enrolled in med sync with more enrolling every day.
As a result of their efforts, all pharmacies in the Advanced Care network that are running med sync are five-star pharmacies. With the additional revenue they generate from higher value-based reimbursements, they were able to create an incentive program. Pharmacies that stay at five stars get quarterly bonuses.
“Using these tools, we’ve been able to give back more to the people who worked so hard to make it happen,” said Erika.
The work is worth it
Considering their success with FDS ENGAGE and med sync, Austin and Erika want to assure other pharmacists that it isn’t as easy as simply turning it on and watching adherence and profitability rise. It requires steady work, but the payoff is more than worth it.
“There is no silver bullet solution,” said Austin. “You have to be willing to put in the work. You’re going to have to roll up your sleeves and really dig in to make it worth your while.
“We sat and took a lot of notes and watched from the sideline for a long time before we decided to jump in,” he continued. “You trip and fall along the way, but, ultimately, you see the gains and benefits from it.”
According to the Browns, once they had around 20 percent of their patients enrolled, they began to see significant time savings in their pharmacy workflow. That optimization is part of what makes Advanced Care a New Era Pharmacy organization.
Ready to switch from a dispensing pharmacy to a service-based community care provider? FDS ENGAGE can help your pharmacy make the shift, just like it did for the Advanced Care Provider Network.