The American Society for Automation in Pharmacy (ASAP) recently held its midyear conference, offering a wide range of relevant pharmacy topics. The conference was well attended and well received.
In listening to the speakers, I couldn't help but appreciate the changing landscape of healthcare in this country. Federal government legislation is a contributor, no question. Take the conversion from ICD-9 to ICD10; this is going to cause reimbursement problems for all providers. The speaker on this topic confirmed my feelings on this. Pharmacy will be affected, with billing for DME products. ICD-10 codes are far more granular than ICD-9 codes — they are not of the unspecified nature commonly used now in pharmacy. This speaker's recommendation was that pharmacy providers should contact physicians for the ICD-10 codes for their patients prior to the Oct. 1, 2015, conversion date so they can update their systems.
Track and trace was another topic covered, and here too there are going to be a number of challenges for pharmacies, once this gets rolling. Initially, it is going to add a paperwork burden, and managing inventory will take on more complexity. There will be additional product identifiers to enable tracing a product through the supply chain. One outcome is that pharmacies not currently using barcode scanners will find that these are necessary. The legislation requires HHS to hire a consulting firm to assess the cost to smaller pharmacies, defined as having fewer than 25 full-time employees. This may show that it is prohibitively expensive for these pharmacies to comply. How this plays out remains to be seen.
Another topic that I found interesting was on prescriptive authority and prescriber verification. Here the message was the importance of maintaining a clean and current prescriber file in the pharmacy system, in order to avoid penalties incurred by dispensing prescriptions from unauthorized prescribers. This is something that is coming under closer scrutiny by all those reimbursing for prescriptions.
There was also a very informative presentation on how retail pharmacy is positioned to take on the role of specialty pharmacy. And the topic of medication synchronization featured a number of new ideas on how to implement such a program and profit from it.
All told, the speakers at this conference were well versed in their subject matter and delivered quality content. Chain pharmacies send people to the ASAP conferences, but independent pharmacy owners, who can definitely benefit, rarely attend. In my mind, this is a missed opportunity.
ASAP holds two conferences a year, one in January and the other in June. They are short events, to minimize time away from the office.
If you have been toying with the idea of attending, my suggestion is to try one. I don't think you'll be disappointed. CT
Bill Lockwood, chairman/publisher, can be reached at email@example.com.