Firm offers chains automated Rx reminders

September 13, 2004

Drugstores chains using CenterPost's technology can automatically generate phone calls and e-mails to tell patients their prescriptions are ready for pick-up or to remind them it's time for refills.

 

TECHNOLOGY

Firm offers chains automated Rx reminders

Instead of letting scripts pile up in the will-call bins, drugstore chains can now use a Chicago firm's technology to automatically generate telephone calls or e-mails to let patients know their orders are ready for pickup.

Using automation to proactively notify patients about pickups and refills frees time for pharmacists and technicians and lowers chain overhead, according to CenterPost Communications. After building a customer base of airlines and financial services firms, the technology company branched out into health care about 18 months ago by building automated order management systems for several pharmacy benefit managers. Now it's time to extend the customer communications franchise to retail pharmacy, said Kevin Clemons, CenterPost director of marketing.

"One application that really resonates with chains is prescription pickups, which seems to be a major pain point for both the companies, in terms of cost and revenue, and for pharmacists and techs, who spend a lot of time calling people to say, 'Your prescription has been sitting here three days. Can you come pick it up?'" Clemons said. "At one chain we're dealing with, they make something like 200,000 calls per week. There's a fair amount of opportunity to use an automated solution to proactively reach people for a cost of less than a postage stamp."

Although clients can opt for e-mail, fax, wireless, and instant messaging, they seem to prefer proactive voice phoning, said Clemons. "There's a little more immediacy with a phone call, and you very quickly get confirmation from customers," he said. "You make sure the message is heard, versus sending out e-mails. Everyone has a phone. That's the real deal."

Clients don't have to worry that the proactive messages will trigger HIPAA (Health Insurance Portability & Accountability Act) headaches, Clemons said. Since CenterPost is given only the name, phone number, and perhaps the prescription number, there's no exchange of private health information. "We say their prescription is ready, but we don't know the drug," he added. "And we don't store any information; it's just used in a given moment."

CenterPost's software can interact with a client's own systems to automatically trigger phone calls. The software can be hosted by CenterPost or reside on the client's system. Clients who opt to have CenterPost host the application merely provide a daily list of patient names and phone numbers. The list is cleaned and loaded into the system, the calls are made, and the results are collected and fed back to the client. The cost to implement such a straightforward application would start at about $25,000, Clemons said. Clients who require more complex applications can expect to pay more. Each phone message would cost around 20 cents or calls can be bundled more like a wireless phone package.

"The return on investment can be very dramatic when you're talking about deflecting a call that typically costs $3 to $5 to field," said Clemons. "The PBMs are looking to reduce inbound calls to their call centers by 30% or more, which translates into huge savings. Like the PBMs, pharmacies can train customers that they don't have to call in by making them realize that they'll be notified when a prescription is ready or it's time for a refill."

For more information on CenterPost, go to www.centerpost.com, phone (312) 224-9300 and ask for Kevin Clemons, or e-mail him at kclemons@centerpost.com.

Carol Ukens

 

Carol Ukens. Firm offers chains automated Rx reminders. Drug Topics Sep. 13, 2004;148:56.