Virtual Staff in Community Pharmacies

Drug Topics JournalDrug Topics August 2018
Volume 162
Issue 8

How new technologies are enabling pharmacies to increase adherence and their bottom line.

Virtual AI person digital concept

Matt Robinson, RPh, pharmacist-in-charge at Poole’s Pharmacy Care in Owensboro, KY, was looking for a way to improve patient adherence scores.

He found a solution in the Central Sync program, a component of VRxAssist from PrescribeWellness that helped him to identify the right patients for the virtual program which maximizes adherence scores. Poole’s was a beta test site for VRxAssist.

“They enrolled the first 25 patients for us and coached us along the way. We were on-boarded into Central Sync on November 27, 2017 with one patient previously enrolled and Star Ratings of 3.36. We were off-boarded on January 24, 2018 with 66 patients. To date, we have 95 patients enrolled and Star Ratings of 4.52,” says Robinson.

Related article: Patients Like Pharmacies That Give Preventive Care

CMS developed the Star Ratings system to help consumers compare Medicare Advantage and Medicare Advantage Prescription Drug Plans based on factors of quality, cost, and coverage.

Pharmacies are rated on how adherent patients are, especially those taking medication for diabetes or hyperlipidemia, or those on ACE inhibitors, Robinson points out. “Using reports on StarWellness and software on EQuIPP, we enrolled outliers in med sync and got them compliant.” This helped to drive up his pharmacy’s Star Ratings.

Med Sync or medication synchronization, addresses the adherence problem by enabling pharmacies to fill patient prescriptions and sync all of them for a single, convenient pick-up day each month.

It allows pharmacies to optimize and streamline workflow while creating an opportunity for pharmacists to provide monthly check-ins and medication therapy management, focused on topics such as proper medication usage or mitigating side effects.

Robinson says that major pharmacy chains and thousands of independent pharmacists have implemented Med Sync, due to its ability to drive patient wellness, its compatibility with Medicare billing, and potential to enhance pharmacy business results.

“We were able to get the folks compliant with med sync and decrease the DIR fees we were paying.”

Robinson says that there’s been a decrease in phone calls and patients who had come in 10 to 12 times a month are only coming in once. He says that patients who are part of med sync need to call/come in less frequently because their prescriptions are synced up, generally for a monthly fill. Instead of coming in to get their meds each time one needs to be filled, they can come in once a month and get all of the prescriptions at once.

Robinson says that patients are no longer calling as much and the lack of phone calls opens up times for other things, like vaccinations, inventory management, marketing their compounding services.

“When they become adherent, we are sparing them from side effects down the road, particularly when it comes to diabetic patients and good kidney function. In Kentucky, there are high rates of obesity and diabetes is a huge part of that. Compliance is vital for these populations. It does benefit us, too, of course, but helping the patients become more compliant is the first priority.”

Related article: Top 5 Medication Adherence Tools

Al Babbington, CEO of PrescribeWellness says that community pharmacies can’t just rely on dispensing revenue. They need to take advantage of new and emerging payment models. But that leads to a quandary. They need additional staff to get the most out of new and emerging payment models, but they can’t justify the cost.

The company launched VRxAssist in July and describes it as a turnkey “virtual staff” solution, designed to provide pharmacies with support to expand services and capitalize on new revenue opportunities. 

Pharmacies license the software suite on a term basis, with a separate agreement to license the virtual staff for as long as they need. 

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