While the typical school of thought in helping patients better manage their medications is to have them meet in person with pharmacists, telepharmacy models can also produce beneficial results, especially for patients with chronic conditions who struggle to be ambulatory or have transportation challenges. That is the goal behind the joining forces of Medication Management Systems (MMS) and Genoa, a QoL Healthcare Company.
Genoa, which also operates nearly 400 stand-alone pharmacies, recently acquired MMS and launched Genoa Medication Management Solutions, marrying the medication management solutions of both organizations. The techniques and tools employed by both Genoa and MMS have resulted in medication adherence rates of more than 90%, on average.
“Patients are often more comfortable having conversations about their medications from their homes, rather than standing behind a line of people waiting to pick up their prescriptions,” said Sarah Mallak, PharmD, Clinical Lead at MMS, which is based in Minneapolis. These services are conducted with more than 30,000 patients over the phone by clinical pharmacists. “The richness of those conversations is at a higher level,” she said.
MMS’s telepharmacy technology platforms are licensed by Medicare and Medicaid managed care organizations with more than four million members and 300 Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services contracts.
Mallak also sees the value of in-person counseling at community pharmacies, which is where Genoa, a QoL Healthcare Company, comes in. With full-service pharmacies co-located in community mental health clinics, Genoa provides pharmacy solutions and medication management for patients with mental illness. In addition to conditions such as schizophrenia and bipolar disorder, many of Genoa’s patients have other complex medical conditions, including cardiovascular issues and elevated cholesterol and require help managing their medications.
“We have a network of clinical hands-on pharmacists embedded in these clinics. However, MMS helps us reach beyond the walls of the clinics, and being able to work with health plans will extend our reach significantly,” said Mark Peterson, Chief Commercial Officer for Genoa.
Because of the merger and the company’s rapid growth, Genoa will add around 300 pharmacists over the next year, including 100 new site managers in clinic-based pharmacies, 50 new pharmacists, and about 50 PRN pharmacists. The organization also expects to add 10 pharmacists to its clinical call center in the next year.
As Genoa broadens its offerings with the merger, it plans to offer more comprehensive medication reviews. “MMS has developed a smart approach to clinical decision support and medical record systems that helps guide our clinical pharmacists through a process that helps us intervene very efficiently and effectively to improve treatment plans,” Peterson said. “We can now engage at the beginning of the treatment process and then help people stay on those plans.”
At the beginning of treatment, MMS’ pharmacists ask questions such as, “Is it the right medication for the patient?”, “Is it effective?”, “Is it safe for the patient to be taking?”, and “Is the patient able to complete the plan that was established by their provider?” Mallak explained.
Pharmacists need to listen to patients and to understand any barriers to receiving quality health care, such as why the patient may have stopped taking a particular medication or why they did not have a follow up appointment with their provider, Mallak added.