The Integration Advantage: Finding Hidden ROI

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

Do Pharmacies Have Hidden ROI?

Successful pharmacy operations know this to be true. Recovery of hidden ROI (return on investment) can be accelerated through use of highly integrated workflow software combined with automated counting or dispensing systems. All pharmacies utilize pharmacy management systems today. Oft times, when automated equipment is used in the daily workflow, third party interfaces and workflow software are purchased separately to potentially increase efficiencies.

In actuality, only one available pharmacy management system (PMS) and automated counting (ACS) or automated dispensing system (ADS) exists in the marketplace today that is fully integrated or synchronized to improve workflow efficiency. Full pharmacy integration allows any needed activity completed by the automation equipment to be viewed and controlled by the PMS. The only fully-integrated pharmacy operation system for most efficient workflow control is offered by RxMedic-QS/1. This system is engineered...not assembled... from different expensive interfaces and third party workflow schemes as is often the case in many pharmacies.

Fully integrated systems allow bi-directional connectivity between pharmacy management software systems and automated processing equipment reducing redundant staff activities. Costly interfaces are one-directional and do not synchronize to increase workflow efficiencies. Does time saved equal recovered ROI?

ROI Challenges Are Increasing

With today's pharmacy practice responsibilities, any opportunity to improve profitability while offsetting increasing generic drug prices, slowness by PBM's (pharmacy benefit managers) to adjust reimbursement levels to pharmacies and health plan star-ratings demands of pharmacies is welcomed. Most pharmacy owners are aware that CMS (the Center for Medicare and Medicaid Services) now challenges health plans and PBM's to improve care for different sectors of insureds—particularly those with multiple chronic illnesses and advancing age. There are actually nearly fifty (50) different measures by which CMS measures performance. Pharmacies who use these health plans and PBM's to determine patient/customer co-pays are now also being scrutinized for their star-rating performance.

Adjustments to pharmacy workflow can be made using synchronized, integrated PMS-ACS or PMS-ADS systems which allow automated dispensing tasks to be controlled through the PMS software that exists in the RxMedic-QS/1 combined package. Any pharmacist knows the aggravation of workflow disruption when all prescriptions for pickup by a specific patient/customer or family aren't packaged together due to different call-in time or refill request time or adjudication problem solving. When the patient/customer arrives and all medications are not combined together for delivery, disruption in the efficiencies in pharmacy workflow can always exist. Has your pharmacy experienced this circumstance...with every staff member doing the "where is it" activity? It's like everything stops to find the missing packaged bag. With fully integrated systems, no searching for the prescription fill "outlier" is needed as all prescriptions are collected as a complete package regardless of where they are filled (automated, manual or compounded). Doesn't time lost in efficiency mean lost ROI? How about the converse: Does workflow processing efficiencies equal money gained? Even same system QS/1 POS (point of sale) systems linked to this totally integrated pharmacy operational package creates hidden pharmacy ROI through synchronization. Once again, systems should be engineered...not create hidden pharmacy ROI.

Improved Customer Service Means Increased ROI

Consider the number of patient/customers in your operation who choose not to return for call-ins for refills or walk-in with five new prescriptions they wish filled immediately. Only newer pharmacy management software can prioritize the ranking for prescription fillings at time of fill request ensuring good "flow" and accelerate adjudication/insurance problem solving that typically slows the dispensing process. With PMS fully integrated with automated pharmacy counting or dispensing equipment, prescription processing is rapidly...and correctly...completed. Waiting patient/customers value the quickness and accuracy with which their prescriptions are readied....and they return.

In multi-pharmacy operation pharmacies (more than one (1) store), fully integrated systems can locate, transfer and bring all prescriptions to the last location contacted by patient/customer to ensure same package delivery even though prescriptions were called into different same pharmacy ownership locations. How much time is saved ($) due to not trying to locate, manually transfer via the telephone and complete the dispensing process out of sequence?

Integration Effects Operation Synchronization and Adherence for Patient/Customers

Today's pharmacy efforts to synchronize all prescriptions delivered together (if no special dosing or new meds are needed) once monthly to allow medication adherence discussions, including MTM (medication therapy management) sessions, body mass testings or immunizations demand efficiencies in the pharmacy workflow process. Hidden ROI is available every minute of daily operation.

Many independent pharmacies recently visited as part of the RxMedic Customer Appreciation Tour actually have calculated their average non-medication expense...per minute! Seem odd?

Knowing this average non-medication expense/minute to operate causes any pharmacy owner/pharmacist/staff member to value every minute saved. This IS hidden ROI that is available for those who use the highly integrated RxMedic Automated Counting (ACS) or Automated Dispensing (ADS) system tied to a QS/1 PMS.

What's your non-medication operation expense...per minute? What does it cost to "come in" today and keep the doors open? Using PMS software that also allows awareness of medication cost (expense) for each filled prescription (medication, vial, label) and reimbursement received per prescription can be "eye-opening". This I also know to be true.

**By the way, Special Thanks to Tom Modeen, Senior Automation Specialist at RxMedic of Wake Forest, NC for his offering of the Integration Advantage concept and "sensings" about its support to improving pharmacy workflow.

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Thank for sharing!

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