The role of the pharmacist has completely evolved in recent years. A job that once centered around simply “filling and billing” is now much broader: Pharmacists today are expected to improve patient outcomes, promote a healthy lifestyle, and ensure cost-effective, proper use of medications.
In the midst of a global pandemic, it’s a tough time economically. Businesses of all kinds are losing profits and struggling just to get by. Many pharmacies—especially small, family-owned stores—are pivoting as a result, exploring new ways to increase profitability and improve their quality of care.
Fortunately, advanced pharmacy technology can drive significant improvements in the industry, even in the middle of a financial crisis.
Improving Profitability with Advanced Pharmacy Technology
The modern pharmacist has a unique opportunity to combat medication non-adherence and improve clinical outcomes. However, running a pharmacy is still a business, and pharmacists can also contribute to significant cost savings across the healthcare industry.
An article from the Integrated Pharmacy Research and Practice explained it well:
“The high prevalence of medication errors and inappropriate prescribing is a major issue within healthcare systems and can often contribute to adverse drug events, many of which are preventable. As a result, there is a huge opportunity for pharmacists to have a significant impact on reducing healthcare costs, as they have the expertise to detect, resolve, and prevent medication errors and medication-related problems.”
Of course, the expanding role of a modern pharmacist presents a fair share of challenges. This is where advanced pharmacy technology comes in. It’s a game changer in multiple ways, as it can help improve overall profitability even during times when the economy is taking a hit. Using tools to automate pharmacy tasks, you can work more efficiently and reduce costly errors.
Plus, pharmacy software allows you to make informed, cost-effective decisions that go a long way when it comes to reducing healthcare expenses. For example, pharmacists can use advanced technology to predict drug shortages, price increases, and waste based on dispensing data.
Using Pharmacy Software to Boost Medication Adherence
It’s not only about increasing profits. The right pharmacy technology can drive significant improvements in medication adherence, which is extremely important—especially for smaller pharmacies that do not have corporate offices and support.
How does software improve adherence? For starters, you can increase patient engagement by offering treatment education and training on diseases and medications so patients remain well-informed. You can also use analytics to predict non-adherence and poor outcomes in advance. This then introduces the opportunity to proactively intervene via automated personalized messaging, such as medication text reminders.
Understanding Recent Advancements in Modern Pharmacy Tech
Like in so many other industries, ever-evolving technological advancements have transformed and reinvented the pharmacy industry. Here are the recent pharmacy technologies that are improving profitability and adherence:
Electronic Prior Authorization
Electronic prior authorization is still relatively new in the pharmacy industry, but the benefits are vast. Using software, pharmacists can eliminate manual tasks involved in the prior authorization process. This ultimately frees up valuable time to focus on engaging with patients and generating profits for your business. It also speeds up the approval process, eliminating delays in treatment and/or abandoned prescriptions.
Medication Therapy Management
Physicians are increasingly relying on pharmacists to provide medication therapy management (MTM), which essentially combines pharmaceutical knowledge and data to advise patients on their treatment plan. Additionally, many pharmacies now offer outpatient services such as flu shots, vaccinations, blood pressure screenings, and more. Pharmacists can leverage technology to provide patient care services like comprehensive medication reviews, ordering and review of lab work, targeted intervention counseling, and dosage adjustments to improve adherence and patient outcomes.
These days almost everything is digital, so it’s no surprise that electronic prescribing (e-prescribing) has become a norm for pharmacies. Regular e-prescribing not only saves time and helps cut costs, but also proves extremely useful for monitoring prescriptions, preventing controlled substance abuse, and avoiding medication errors.
This is especially true as it relates to specialty medications, which are expensive, complex therapies that typically require special handling, monitoring, and administration. Increasing automation in complex specialty prescribing will introduce efficiencies and improve pharmacy workflows.
Automated Drug Dispensing
In recent years, automated drug dispensing has also made its way into the industry. This technology helps cut down on drug theft while facilitating patient safety and offering a convenient, efficient way to fill prescriptions. It also allows pharmacists to gain invaluable insights by using data to predict potential shortages and waste.
Medication Adherence Tools
There are several adherence tools available, such as interactive text messaging programs and smart pill bottles that chime and alert patients when it’s time to take their medications. By using technology to predict non-adherence and intervene before patients miss doses and refills, you can improve patient outcomes tenfold.
Medication synchronization (or med sync) programs are also highly effective when it comes to improving adherence. Med sync programs aim to make pickups as convenient as possible by synchronizing prescription refills so they’re available on a single day each month. In fact, research shows that med sync patients are more than 2.5 times more likely to be adherent to medications.
Telehealth, and specifically telepharmacy, are all the rage these days, especially during the COVID-19 pandemic, which has people all over the globe practicing social distancing. Telepharmacy services, which allow individuals in remote locations to fill prescriptions digitally and access them through the mail, improve access to care and medication. This is especially true in more rural areas where smaller pharmacies are more prevalent.
Patient care is your top priority, but you still need to keep the pharmacy’s lights on. That’s why it’s very beneficial to use claims reconciliation software to track reimbursements, missing payments, claim reversals, thirty-party admin fees, and more. This technology can help you optimize profitability and business growth by tracking and completing more claims, even despite tough economic times.
Data and Predictive Analytics
Last but certainly not least is data and predictive analytics. This allows pharmacists to utilize patient data to improve profitability by identifying ways to save on supplies, cut down on waste, and work more efficiently.
Using data, you can pinpoint specific opportunities to drive better business results and improve patient care. You can then use those insights to create an action plan. For example, if your goal is to improve medication adherence, you can use data to take action and monitor your success.
With the right pharmacy technology at your fingertips, you can improve patient adherence to prescribed treatments and your profitability, even during the toughest of economic times. While nobody knows exactly what the future holds, one thing is for sure: pharmacy technology will continue to adapt and evolve in the days ahead, allowing you to grow and succeed along with it.