Ken Patel, R.Ph.
Ken Patel, R.Ph.

Sun City is a 55-plus senior community in Arizona, and Ken Patel, R.Ph., has been caring for patients there as owner of Rightway Pharmacy for about seven years now. He provides retail and compounding pharmacy services, immunizations, and multidose adherence strip packaging. This packaging plays a significant role in creating positive health outcomes for patients who are taking multiple medications, of course. But what’s perhaps not as obvious is the positive impact adherence packaging automation has on a pharmacy’s financial health.

Patel added RxSafe RapidPakRx to his pharmacy in November 2020. He knew that this would create a win for his patients, because better medication management means better outcomes. But he encourages pharmacists considering an investment in packaging automation to take a look at the strong positive return on investment (ROI) he’s seen with RapidPakRx. “When our patients are more adherent,” explains Patel, “and we’re using automation to achieve that, that actually ends up having quite a positive impact on our pharmacy’s finances in a variety of ways.”

Lower DIR Fees

Bringing in RapidPakRx has meant that Rightway Pharmacy is now managing patients’ medications at a whole new level, making sure that patients are refilling consistently and ensuring that they are taking the right medication at the right time. “There were a couple of instances before RapidPakRx where we found out that patients just took all their medications at the same time of day,” notes Patel. “But we solve that risk by packaging by time of administration.” And there’s a direct relationship between better medication management and lower DIR (direct and indirect remuneration) fees. “As our adherence metrics go up, our DIR fees are going down,” says Patel. “We’ve seen a reduction of $2,400 in DIR fees in one month, and we’re on track to see a 2% to 3% reduction overall this year.”

Leverage LTC Claims

Next, Patel has been able to leverage strip packaging and a partnership with GeriMed to receive higher reimbursements for the medications Rightway Pharmacy dispenses to residents of assisted-living homes and group homes. “Being able to bill these claims through the long-term care side has helped us quite a bit,” he says.

Increasing Fills

Taking ownership of medication management with adherence packaging also leads to more fills. “We’re not waiting for patients to decide they need a refill or asking them how many pills they have left in a vial,” says Patel. “So as we help our patients with adherence, we’re gaining refills that would have fallen through the cracks before.”

Saving Time

Then there’s time savings. RapidPak has passed the test of automation creating efficiencies, and with flying colors. First, it streamlines the pharmacy’s med sync program. Being able to build out this program efficiently has really helped Patel to differentiate Rightway Pharmacy from the competition. Next, Patel has seen just how important it is to be able to do more with fewer staff, as he’s been struggling to fill an open technician position. “We are experiencing a labor shortage just like many other businesses,” he says. “But with RapidPak we’ve been able to shift a number of tasks from being manual to being automated, while also maintaining our service level and keeping our focus on winning new patients.”

ROI and Tax Savings

And now may be a particularly good time to take a look at adherence packaging automation, according to Patel. That’s because many pharmacies have been seeing strong revenues and profits this year as they play a central role in providing COVID-19 vaccinations and testing. “I see this as a good time to think about making an investment in this technology that has such a strong ROI,” says Patel, “because then you can use IRS Section 179 to save on taxes.” Patel expects that you will be just as pleased as he has been to see the financial benefits of adherence packaging automation accruing to your bottom line, while you build a competitive advantage through better care and patient outcomes. CT