Today’s patients need more healthcare options. Doctors’ offices are overbooked, and patients can wait months for a simple check-up. And the pandemic is only making matters worse. On the pharmacy side of things, prescription reimbursement rates are falling, and increasing DIR fees are taking bigger chunks of that revenue every day. To survive, pharmacies have to expand how they serve their patients. The answer? Expanding into patient care services.
There has never been a better time to expand into providing clinical care. Let’s talk about the positive impact patient care services can have on both your business and your community.
The Positive Impact of Immunizations
Many pharmacies have been offering immunizations for years, but there are still some out there who haven’t entered that particular arena yet. Offering immunization services can be a shot in the arm (pun very intended) to a pharmacy suffering from declines in reimbursements.
At Katterman’s Sand Point Pharmacy in Seattle, Beverly Schaefer turned to immunizations after she had to turn down a contract that lost her 300 patients. She was hoping to provide 300 flu shots; once the season was over, she had provided over 1,200. When she was interviewed for an article for PBA Health, she stated that pharmacies make at least $15 to $20 profit on every vaccine. “How many prescriptions do you make fifteen to twenty dollars on?” she added.
When your pharmacy offers immunizations, your community benefits as well. The medical benefits of vaccines are widely documented, so we won’t waste any editorial space on that. But when community pharmacies offer them to their patients, vaccines are easier and more convenient to obtain. The choice between a five-minute drive to the pharmacy and a twenty-minute drive to the doctor (plus an hour in the waiting room and another hour in the exam room) isn’t a choice at all.
The Positive Impact of Point-of-Care Testing
Point-of-care testing is a relatively new offering for pharmacies, and it couldn’t be more important than it is right now. With the nation still in the middle of a global pandemic, one of the best weapons we have against the virus is testing. If a patient tests positive, they can help slow the spread through treatment, while their close contacts can help slow the spread by self-isolating. Knowledge is key. And, as any viewer of G.I. Joe has learned, knowing is half the battle.
Offering point-of-care testing at pharmacies provides diagnostic testing to patients who might normally not have easy access, like in rural communities or other provider deserts. Where a person chooses to live shouldn’t limit the kind of health care they receive.
Like many businesses, pharmacies have had to adjust to life during COVID-19. While patients still need their prescriptions, they may have difficulty picking them up. Others may not be able to afford their medication due to employment issues. Point-of-care testing offers a new insurance-covered revenue stream for pharmacies.
The Positive Impact of Medication Therapy Management
Medication therapy management, or MTM, is a thorough review of a patient’s medications and treatment plans. It is designed to optimize outcomes and root out potential medication problems. Pharmacists have been providing this service for years, but many were not being compensated for it. With the switch to value-based reimbursement, services like MTM are on the table and billable.
The benefits for patients are numerous. In addition to better treatment outcomes and peace of mind, MTM also encourages patients to take a more active role in their own care, increasing the likelihood that they will stay adherent to their treatment plans. They can work with their providers to set goals, then work on plans to achieve them.
Entering the World of Medical Benefit Billing
With prescription reimbursement rates on the decline, many pharmacies are looking at other revenue drivers to keep their doors open. Providing clinical care services does just that, while also providing much-needed services closer to home for many members of their community. But how are these services paid for? That’s a different story.
Billing for the prescription benefit and billing for the medical benefit are two different worlds. For pharmacies unfamiliar with the medical benefit, it can be overwhelming. But you shouldn’t let that scare you away from new revenue streams. Using a medical billing solution, like FDS MedBill, can take this complicated process and make it much simpler to understand and implement.
As the role of pharmacies continues to expand, so does their importance. In the past, drug stores simply filled prescriptions and sold over-the-counter medications. Today, they provide many patient care services that decades ago would have required a trip to a doctor’s office. That’s a win for both pharmacies and their patients.