What Might Pharmacists Do With Time?

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

Automated Pharmacy Dispensing is Integral to Our Business Model

Kelly Hunt, RPh, a pharmacist-owner of Kelly's Family Pharmacy has an answer to the question "what might pharmacists do with time".

"Our business model for better service is built around automated pharmacy dispensing. We promise quick and accurate prescription filling so we can spend time with our customers supporting their adherence and medication therapy management needs." These words, "ring true" to anyone who visits this pharmacy and spends time observing the pharmacy staff in action. Easley, South Carolina is in what's called "the Upstate" situated between Greenville, SC and Clemson, SC and is one of the fastest growing cities in South Carolina. As often stated regarding successful businesses, "location, location, location" is always another important component of any thriving business.

RxMedic Customer Appreciation Tour Visits South Carolina

As part of the RxMedic Customer Appreciation Tour, Kelly's Family Pharmacy was visited to experience first-hand its pharmacy workflow arrangement and converse with Kelly about the business progress in this economic environ. Pharmacists Kelly and Kandi Hunt in 2008, after some 30 years of combined pharmacy practice in Upstate South Carolina, set out to establish a pharmacy and environ where the patient/customer is number one...as opposed to the drug product being dispensed so common in most of today's retail pharmacy environment. Independent pharmacies typically can carve out a "healthcare niche" in their communities based upon the personalized attention each of their patient-customers receive ... and Kelly's Family Pharmacy has taken this to "another level". What has been the result? Prescription filling and patient consults of up to 500 per day in a 1500 square foot facility with the help of a robotic named "Big Mo"...an RxMedic Automated Dispensing System...the ADS.

The staff at Kelly's Family Pharmacy ...pharmacists Kelly, Kandi, James and Libby with Certified Pharmacy Technicians Kelli, Jackie, Kim and Pills and Wheels mobile delivery specialist Paul... were quick to point out they view "Big Mo", their pharmacy automated dispensing system, as actually one of their human resource family.

Pharmacy Workflow Efficiencies Result from Automation

Kelly also offered: "We have gained significant efficiencies in our pharmacy workflow through the addition of the automated dispensing system we implemented in July of 2013. It has allowed us to also better prepare for the forthcoming government-driven CMS (Center for Medicare and Medicaid Services) star rating system for pharmacies." This rating system will qualify pharmacies for reimbursement for Medicare patients medications and education but preclude those not meeting quality guidelines for promoting medication adherence efforts and performing adequate Medication Therapy Management (MTM) approaches with their patient-customers. Kelly further mentioned: "We know the time-savings gained during various steps of our pharmacy workflow (through our use of an automated pharmacy dispensing system) will help us to further implement expanded pharmacy services to our customer base...many of which currently fall into the Medicare class." As learned during this RxMedic Customer Appreciation Tour, pharmacy owners already anticipate this star-rating system, once in place, will be extended to include Medicaid patient-customers also.

Information Technologies Will Help Us Advance

As Kelly discussed the evolving current trend in healthcare to provide better care, he initiated discussions regarding how future efforts at Kelly's Family Pharmacy will augment their current pharmacy patient medication service efforts. "At our staff meetings here in the pharmacy we continually discuss those new patient access opportunities through the use of information technology and customer-patient access to their healthcare and pharmacy profiles. Many of our patients have already experienced this open-access to their medical records available through their physician and hospital information portals and whiteboards. This even includes mobile application access (both iPhone and Android cellphones, including "tablet" configurations) to their information. We've recently learned that certain of the cellular phone provider networks are building what's known as "carrier-agnostic and cross-platform" solutions that will allow usable applications for the public consumer. Not surprisingly, this is coming about due to the cloud-based platforms offered by various vendors. I do have some concerns about the security integrity of these possible new approaches to offering open-access for our patient-customers to their profiles even though they are, of course, read only. We have a responsibility to ensure HIPAA compliance and can be severely fined for infractions."

Driving Business Forward

Not surprisingly...with Kelly and Kandi Hunts' commitment to being current with various automation technologies... a second pharmacy location (First Choice Pharmacy- typically staffed by pharmacist Jeff and Certified Pharmacy Tech Stephanie) within a nearby physician's complex uses an automated counting system (ACS) to support the pharmacy's staff extended patient service efforts as a result of the time efficiencies gained.

Kelly closed our discussion with the following: "I enjoy sharing with other pharmacy owners how automation has helped Kandi and I drive our business forward. I can help them with ensuring their expectations can be met."

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pharmacy workflow
Thank for sharing!

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