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The Three Legs of the Stool

Over the years the pharmacy management system (PMS) has become the workhorse in a pharmacy in more ways than one. Let me tell you why.
The PMS addresses three important areas: operations management, clinical management, and financial management.

Operations management is all about prescription processing. As a byproduct of this we have clinical management, where the system checks for any drug interactions, generates the drug monograph, and updates the person’s prescription profile. Financial management enters the picture with the billing of the prescription to the person’s insurance plan, decrementing the drug inventory as prescriptions are filled, and then (through an electronic data interchange [EDI] interface with the pharmacy’s wholesaler) transmitting orders to replenish stock, taking advantage of just-in-time inventory — both an operations and a financial benefit.

The PMS has provided an unprecedented level of efficiency in a pharmacy. But it is the interfaces with other systems and services that make the PMS even more valuable. The interface to robotic dispensing systems is one example of this. Robotics has taken pharmacy to an entirely new level of efficiency. But there is other value in such an interface. It assures accurate counting of the prescriptions and provides safeguards to ensure the right drug is being dispensed.

Another example of how interfaces with the PMS work to improve pharmacy operations is the interface to interactive voice response (IVR) systems. Here pharmacists and technicians are not taking phone calls while processing prescriptions — one less distraction to prevent prescription errors. But the benefit of the IVR interface goes beyond this. It contributes to the clinical area, namely, improving medication adherence through a reminder call that a prescription is due for a refill and a reminder call to pick up that prescription when ready.

Still another example is the interface to a point-of-sale (POS) system, which is the focus of the cover story in this issue. The interface with the PMS allows prescriptions to be rung up at the POS terminal along with front-end purchases. It documents when a prescription was picked up and left the pharmacy — such bidirectional flow between the PMS and POS system is where the greatest benefits are derived.

What I am seeing is a trend toward interfaces that can enhance the pharmacist’s role in patient care. With more emphasis on transition of care, chronic care management, and collaborative care arrangements, the prescription data and patient demographics in the PMS can be applied in an interface to a pharmacy-specific electronic health record that would increase the value of a pharmacist as a healthcare provider.

I could go on with more examples of how the PMS serves to address what I call the three legs of the stool — operations, clinical, and financial management — but I think you get the point from what I presented here. CT

Bill Lockwood, Chairman | Publisher
Bill can be reached at wal@computertalk.com

GSL Intellicab