We live in the age of data. Every purchase order, every transaction, every interaction — all of them produce data that can be used or ignored equally. For too long, it’s been more of the latter than the former. But business intelligence is finding ways to take data and turn it into dollars. There’s no reason why you can’t do the same with your pharmacy data.
Your pharmacy management system records data constantly. Every prescription you fill — or don’t fill, as you’ll see in a bit — generates data that you can use to increase your store profits. And in a time when pharmacists are busier than ever, business intelligence can provide new ways to ensure you’re not leaving any money on the table.
Identify Your Opportunities
So how does it work? How do you get started? The first thing you need to do is examine the data. A business intelligence solution pulls data from your PMS and helps you find valuable, hidden insights in that information.
What kind of metrics can you look for?
Prescriptions sold at a loss: When the reimbursement rate is less than the purchase cost, you need to know. Targeting this data point can help you in a few different ways:
- You can identify reimbursement issues and mistakes, and
- You can consider other options for that particular medication, including other suppliers that may be cheaper.
Missing patients: You can pinpoint patients who haven’t filled prescriptions at your pharmacy for a considerable amount of time, then reach out to them and find out why. Have they moved? Did they switch pharmacies because their medications are cheaper there? Did their insurance change, no longer covering your pharmacy? The information is valuable, and it can inform a lot of decisions you make down the road.
Missing refills: This is easily the most profitable bit of data you can collect from your PMS. So profitable, in fact, that we’re going to give it its own section.
Target Your Missing Refills
Missing refills is one of the most common ways pharmacies leave money on the table. A patient has refills available for their medications and, for whatever reason, they don’t fill them. Often, it’s due to something as simple as “I forgot” or “I missed a few days and I got behind on my medication.” Regardless, when you reach out to these patients, you’re doing two different things:
- You’re recovering revenue that your store was set to lose, and
- You’re showing the patient that you’re paying attention, and that you care about their well-being and their adherence to their medication plan.
(Plus, as a bonus, medication adherence is what determines performance metrics for star ratings. So, you up your profits while also raising your star ratings. That’s a win-win.)
Don’t Forget to Take Action
Gathering the data isn’t enough. Pulling insights from it isn’t enough. In order to make a difference for your pharmacy’s profitability, you have to do something with those insights. And yes, that means a little extra work. But there are ways to do it without throwing your staff off of their workflow.
Most missing refill calls will only take a few minutes, and they can add up to hundreds of dollars of extra profit for your pharmacy. If you prioritize calls by which prescriptions will be the most profitable, you can get a sizeable return even when you only have a few minutes to spare.
Lakeland Pharmacy’s Dan Priest — who spoke with us on a recent webinar — had a unique solution for how to make the extra calls without affecting his team’s time. A retired woman had been working part-time for his pharmacy, and she had previously worked as a telemarketer. Priest asked her if she would be willing to call patients and follow up on missing refills; she didn’t have to be a pharmacist to calls patients, and he and the rest of the staff would be on hand to answer any questions a patient did have.
It was a huge success.
As Priest discussed on the webinar, Lakeland’s patients enjoy hearing from her, and the pharmacy staff doesn’t have to divide their time between making calls and seeing patients. And the amount she brings in from calling about missing refills per hour is often more than ten times her hourly pay, making for quite a return on investment.
With reimbursement rates not getting any higher and DIR fees on the rise, pharmacists will have to do more than just dispense medication to stay in the black. With business intelligence, pharmacists can look at their own pharmacy data and find hidden profit opportunities. What are you waiting for?