Third party help tops technology wish list


Help with third party headaches topped the technology wish list of independent pharmacists, according to a survey by Mike Rupp.



Third-party help tops technology wish list

Smoothing out some of the kinks in third-party red tape topped the technology wish list of independent community pharmacists, according to a new needs-assessment survey commissioned by the Special Committee on Innovation and Technology of the National Community Pharmacists Association.

Help with prior authorizations and billing for pharmacist care services were rated the highest unmet needs among the 445 NCPA members who responded to a survey last August. The study was conducted by Michael Rupp, Ph.D., R.Ph., professor and executive director of the Center for the Advancement of Pharmacy Practice at Midwestern University—Glendale, Ariz. Jeffrey Hall, Pharm.D. candidate, assisted with data analysis. The results will be used by NCPA to guide future presentations and conference exhibit offerings.

"Third-party unmet needs were high almost across the board," said Rupp, who serves on the NCPA committee. "Claims reconciliation and prior authorizations are clearly big problems for a lot of pharmacists. It's important to work more closely with pharmacy benefit managers to resolve some of the issues related to third-party claims administration that continue to bring pharmacy operations to their knees, at least from an efficiency perspective."

The chief unmet needs in the communications arena were better ways to handle refill requests to and refill authorizations from prescribers. "Information to and from prescribers and patients are all aspects of day-to-day operations that clearly are important, but our respondents didn't feel they have a good handle on it," Rupp said. "One take-home message is that any busy pharmacy that hasn't implemented integrated voice response technology is probably missing the boat."

Help with promoting pharmacist care services rated high as an unmet operational need. "A lot of NCPA members have demonstrated real interest in evolving into more care services, but they haven't been able to think through how to integrate those new activities into existing operations without significantly disturbing the dispensing operation," Rupp said. "That's something we need to assist them with."

The dispensing process isn't too problematic, with the exception of the final prescription verification and patient counseling aids. "Given the increasing volume of prescriptions, my assumption was that prescription processing would include areas of unmet needs or priorities," Rupp said. "It didn't come out that way. For the most part, in terms of the routine distributive aspects, NCPA members feel they have solutions in place."

Despite the lure of new gee-whiz gadgets and gizmos, independent pharmacists shouldn't jump on the technology bandwagon until they have turned a cold analytical eye on their operation. "Everywhere you have a problem doesn't necessarily require a technological solution," Rupp thinks. "There are ways of approaching operations in a more systematic fashion, even before you start throwing technological solutions at them. Many pharmacists overwhelmed by volume could get a lot of benefit out of just redeploying personnel. There are some workflow and personnel usage issues that are almost prerequisites to implementing technology. Otherwise what you're going to do is speed up a fundamentally flawed process. You might make the same mistakes, but you'll just make them a lot faster."

Carol Ukens


Carol Ukens. Third party help tops technology wish list.

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