Getting Things Done: Putting Process Automation to Work in LTC Pharmacy

Pharmacy Forward
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Saliba’s Extended Care Pharmacy, a Guardian pharmacy, is a closed-door long-term care (LTC) operation that provides pharmacy services to care facilities ranging from assisted living to behavioral health and skilled nursing. As is typical in LTC pharmacy, documents come in by fax or e-prescribing. Saliba’s Extended Care Pharmacy uses Integra LTC Solutions’ DocuTrack document management system, which greatly improves efficiency by creating paperless workflow. Still, there are a lot of time-intensive, repetitive tasks that put a real burden on pharmacy staff. Take, for example, refill authorizations.

Plus: Managing LTC Pharmacy Complexity with Process Automation

Integra LTC Solutions’ Louie Foster On the power of Logix process automation to address:

  • High levels of facility specific complexity better than compiled software.
  • Integration of disparate communications channels, from fax to DIRECT message to Slack.
  • The need for a clear ROI from your technology investment.

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In the past the workflow for this at Saliba’s Extended Care Pharmacy, according to president and owner John Saliba, R.Ph., put all prescriptions needing refill authorization in a workflow queue. Pharmacy protocol required that the staff fax authorizations to the doctor’s office up to three times, with the staff then making a phone call if there was no response. Each action in this protocol required a technician’s time: to enter the original refill authorization request, to initiate the faxes, and to update the number of faxes sent and the status of the request. The queue could stretch to 500 or 600 requests that the staff was managing, each at its own stage in the protocol.

That was the past, though, and John Saliba has now put Integra’s Logix process automation to work on this process. So now, as soon as the pharmacy prints prescriptions that need refill authorization, they go right into the queue in DocuTrack, and Logix automatically runs the protocol, faxing the requests at regular intervals until the limit is reached.

When the request is granted, Logix alerts the pharmacy staff. If there’s no response from the prescriber after three tries, then Logix changes the status to “need to call,” at which point a human steps in. “Our technicians only need to focus on those particular prescriptions that require a call now,” says Saliba. “We’re down to somewhere between 100 and 200 prescriptions that need a technician’s attention.”

That’s process automation making a huge reduction in work, and that means that those people who were managing refill authorizations before can be deployed to some higher-complexity function. “That’s better for them, and it’s better for the company,” says Saliba.

You don’t have to be a process automation expert to set up Logix with the right triggers and steps, either, notes Saliba. “I’m very good from an operations perspective,” he says. “I know what I want to see happen, but I’m not the person who would be able to figure out how to set it up. But the nice thing about it is, all we have to do is decide what we want done. And then Integra works with us to build the rules within Logix to run things.”

Process automation is taking a central, strategic role at Saliba’s Extended Care Pharmacy. “We’re looking to automate as many tasks as we can and to aggressively reinvent our business,” says Saliba. “Our challenge over the next year or so is to make sure that we keep on top of everything Logix can do and leverage it to the greatest level that we possibly can.”

On the shortlist is automating the pharmacy’s prior authorization process and some of the communications that it has with its customers — for example, when a prescription is not going to be able to be refilled for various reasons. “There are ways for Logix to help us automate these tasks and keep track of them more efficiently,” says Saliba. “We can’t control certain aspects of the operating environment, like reimbursements, but what we can do is focus on maximizing our efficiency so that we’re able to not only survive but thrive, as we’re tasked with doing more and more with less.” CT