Prescription Perfect Storm® on the Horizon…the Clock is Ticking!

Category: Pharmacy Advances Written by Dr. Charles Shively / November 6, 2014

1.8 Billion New Prescriptions in 2014

Are you ready? With the Affordable Health Care Act apparently taking hold here in October of 2013, this isn’t just another Fall with early leaves falling and insurances beginning to change for many of our Medicare customers. I’ve mentioned in earlier articles that I dream a lot. My last dream was actually more like a nightmare. Consider the following thoughts. I sense it may even be a pharmacy workflowTidal Wave of challenges to many of the many pharmacy operations for which I consult. 1.8 Billion new prescriptions possible in 2014! Oh, my…

What to Do?

How will my pharmacy clients handle their share of the possible 1.8 Billion new prescriptions next year in 2014? How about you? With most of the 30 million anticipated individuals… soon to enroll…currently uninsured (averaging 6-8 prescriptions per month with multiple chronic illnesses out of control), Medicare insured looking to avoid past “donut hole” costs, Medicaid different state co-pay types and Dual Eligibles (averaging as many as 10 prescriptions monthly), I’m nervous about you and I as pharmacists beingable to meet the demand. Let allow the impact on out-patient hospital pharmacists that must help reduce hospital cots through effective care transition. It seems possible the United States “prescription filling machine®” …you know, the 40/hour…may break down.

What portion of those 1.8 Billion new prescriptions do you plan…or will be able… to fill? More than the dispensing time involved in meeting this Tidal Wave, the inputting of all those new patient insurances with patient allergies and their new profile creation is going to cause January/February/March of 2014 to be the “Prescription Perfect Storm®”….and for 90 consecutive days!

Old Age or New Age Thinker?

What ways can we prepare for and survive the Prescription Perfect Storm®? My academic colleagues offer that depending on our age, we were offered different ways to learn…and think…about many decisions or key choices. It ties back to whether we learned to remember or become creative using the just learned new information or content (academics know this as Bloom’s Taxonomy). Folks who preceded the pharmacy automated dispensing age of this century did learn differently…to think and assess. Where you born before 1945?  Before 1975?  Before 1995?  Generation X?  Generation Y?  Sorry to offer, but each of these age groups assess key financial decisions (among other things) differently. In the present, regardless of how we learned or were “taught”, we all are challenged the same with the latest healthcare mandates. How are we to work to improve our pharmacy workflow, cash flow and business success.  Hummm…Should we automate?

Still Riding the Fence?

I’m still trying to decide as a pharmacy consultant how I offer to my clients in community pharmacies, community health care clinics, medical home alliances and skilled nursing facilities the best way(s) for them to prepare for the Prescription Perfect Storm®. It’s difficult to not recommend automated pharmacy dispensing systems as one of the answers.

Earlier studies demonstrated that savings of up to 40-50 minutes/hour can occur from use of an automated pharmacy dispensing system. If any pharmacy needs complete an additional 100 new prescriptions daily, these studies suggested the need for an additional 400 minutes per day to complete the inputting/filling/dispensing/approval process. At what cost with additional staff completing manual dispensing? At what cost with various options of pharmacy automated dispensing systems?

When automated pharmacy dispensing systems are thought of as “human resources”…and their impact on quick pharmacy automated dispensing system ROI…it just seems logical that this needs the preferred recommendation. Using a 10 or 12 hour day for involvement use of a robotic “human resource”, the hourly wage for involvement is less than $1-9/hour depending upon the system chosen…assuming photo verification of medication “in the vial” exists.

These costs for additional “robotic pharmacy human resources” are less expensive than recommending additional traditional human resources and the associated salary and benefits typically expected. Work the numbers…it’s a “no-brainer” I sense.

Robots Are As “Human Resources”

I’ve interviewed or spoken with many pharmacy owners who know the addition of an automated pharmacy automation system was quickly embraced by their staff as another human resource. In my pharmacy experience, a major excitement is naming the new “baby”.  Time to start asking your staff to name yours? They will appreciate your decision to help support them in the forthcoming Prescription Perfect Storm®.

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Thank for sharing!

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