Specialty pharmacists play a vital role in ensuring patients with chronic, complex conditions have access to medications they need. On top of dispensing these often life-saving medications, today’s pharmacists are taking patient care to a new level, advancing standards and driving more positive health outcomes.
Now in the wake of the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic, specialty pharmacists face new challenges with patient and staff safety, communication, inventory levels, billing and reconciliation, and so much more. Here’s how one pharmacist put it:
“As patients, their families, and communities work together to ‘flatten the curve’ amidst the COVID-19 pandemic, access to medications to treat chronic diseases, behavioral health conditions, and over-the-counter symptom management is vital. Pharmacists in communities across the state are upholding their oath to serve their communities to ensure that patients can live happier, healthier, and safer lives by bringing the care to the patients’ doorsteps whenever possible.”
-Ken Thai, PharmD, president of the California Pharmacists Association (source)
As specialty pharmacists adapt and evolve amidst a pandemic, they’re also still looking for ways to drive their pharmacy into the future. Many are turning to pharmacy technology as a way of doing both—not to mention offering top-quality, patient-centered care in the process.
This article will cover the benefits associated with using specialty pharmacy software during a global health crisis and beyond.
How Specialty Pharmacy Software Benefits Rural Pharmacies
The right software can truly be a game-changer for specialty pharmacies—particularly those in rural communities, which are often underserved and overwhelmed. Fortunately, today’s community pharmacists have access to better tools that allow them to drive improvements through decreased costs and increased quality.
While specialty pharmacy software is always beneficial, it can be especially useful while facing the challenging COVID-19 pandemic. From low-volume purchasing to a limited workforce, small rural pharmacies face a myriad of challenges that will make adjusting to the “new normal” very difficult.
Specialty pharmacy software can address these challenges and ease the burden, enabling you to provide safe, effective care that’s consistent across your patients. What’s more, a comprehensive solution enables smaller pharmacies to scale quickly.
Why the Specialty Pharmacy Software You Choose Matters
Of course, not just any technology will do. Specialty pharmacy software comes in different shapes and sizes, and the system you choose plays a big role in the success of your business and satisfaction of your patients.
That’s why it’s essential to select a tool that solves your specific problems and addresses your pharmacy’s needs. Choosing the wrong type of pharmacy software can leave gaps in your processes and waste money on features you don’t need, which is obviously less than ideal. After all, the goal is to utilize technology to help you work smarter, not harder!
On the other hand, an optimal solution will help you provide clinical services more efficiently and effectively, automating manual tasks and streamlining workflows so you can focus more on what you do best: engaging with your patients.
With the right specialty pharmacy technology in your toolbox, you can improve inventory tracking and management, enable alternative methods of care, and explore new ways to boost medication adherence and patient outcomes.
5 Factors to Consider When Choosing Specialty Pharmacy Software
Wondering how to compare systems to choose the best one for your pharmacy? To help you make the best selection for your business, here are five key considerations when choosing specialty pharmacy software.
- Integration with Existing Systems
When evaluating pharmacy technology, it’s important you understand the different options available to you. While some solutions operate as a single platform integrated with existing systems, others require the use of multiple interfaces.
There are many benefits to ensuring any new technologies can integrate with your existing pharmacy management solution. When all your systems are connected and talking to each other, they provide a much more accurate picture of the state of your business. That’s why it’s a good idea to look for specialty pharmacy software that can seamlessly integrate with your existing solutions for e-prescribing, medical billing, electronic health records, inventory management, dispensing, and more.
- Advanced Analytics and Reporting
The emergence of big data and advanced analytics has completely changed the game for pharmacies, especially after the shift to value-based care. Today’s pharmacists have a unique advantage because they can leverage analytics to help them make proactive decisions that improve day-to-day operations and enhance patient care.
Specialty pharmacy software with comprehensive reporting capabilities, customizable dashboards, and real-time updates allows for accurate, automated inventory management. That means it allows pharmacists to anticipate shortages before they happen and maintain the stock levels necessary to care for patients. The best solutions can be tailored to meet your specialty pharmacy’s needs, so you can choose which data you want on your dashboard at any given time.
- Real-Time Inventory Tracking
You never want to order more (or less) than you need, but pinpointing the right quantities without an inventory management tool is like a shot in the dark. The right solution will allow you to easily see which quantities you have on hand across multiple specialty pharmacy locations.
Look for a system with the ability to set up real-time alerts and reorder items automatically as stock becomes low. By automating specialty drug ordering, you can ensure you always have access to the therapies that patients need and avoid unnecessary drug waste by eliminating excess inventory. This will help you better manage your supply levels and meet continuous demand, even amidst a global pandemic like COVID-19.
- Medication Synchronization Program
You can utilize pharmacy software to manage a medication synchronization (or “med sync”) program that allows patients to fill all of their specialty prescriptions in one monthly visit. Med sync programs go a long way to improving adherence and making it convenient for patients to get the medications they need.
In fact, a study by the National Community Pharmacists Association (NCPA) found that med sync patients are more than 2.5 times more likely to be adherent and 21 percent less likely to discontinue drug therapy. This in turn improves health outcomes and decreases total costs. And while med sync programs are always beneficial for boosting adherence in elderly and high-risk patients who likely fill multiple prescriptions each month, they’re especially useful for limiting in-person visits and minimizing exposure during the COVID-19 outbreak.
- Billing and Reconciliation Support
Offering top-quality patient care is your utmost priority, but you have to keep the pharmacy lights on in order to provide it to your community. Manual administrative tasks associated with medical billing, reconciliation, and prior authorization can be extremely time-consuming, often taking up time that could have otherwise been spent engaging with patients.
This is especially true when billing for specialty medications, which are more costly and complex in nature. To simplify the process, free up time, and reduce administrative errors, look for a tool with medical billing and reconciliation support to help you spot financial gaps and increase profitability.
How Pharmacy Software Provides Additional Support During a Pandemic
Software is always a tremendous asset to specialty pharmacies, but it’s even more important when facing a worldwide pandemic like COVID-19. With a comprehensive specialty pharmacy solution in your back pocket, you can:
- Manage and track medication requests more efficiently
- Use analytics to get ahead of requests when supplies run short
- Improve high-volume prescription filling processes and efficiency
- Embrace delivery, curbside, and drive-thru services to minimize disease spread
- Offer telemedicine to maintain a presence in rural areas and cut down on in-person pharmacy trips
- Take advantage of medication synchronization to make sure patients get all of their prescriptions in one delivery or pickup, especially those who are immunocompromised and considered high-risk
The world as we know it has completely changed, but with the right speciality pharmacy software you can still offer the best possible care to patients in your community.
Is your specialty pharmacy struggling to adapt amidst the COVID-19 outbreak? Watch our free webinar to learn more about the steps you can take to stay strong in the face of COVID-19.