Bill Lockwood, publisher of ComputerTalk, talks with Ketan Mehta, CEO of Micro Merchant Systems, about the new focus of the company that is centered on increasing the value of pharmacists in their communities.
ComputerTalk: Let’s begin by hearing the reasons behind the new mission at Micro Merchant Systems.
Ketan Mehta: Helping pharmacies build healthier communities through cutting-edge innovation.
CT: What specific tools do you provide to free up time for pharmacists to do a better job of improving outcomes?
Mehta: Pharmacists’ time is most well spent when they are actively using appropriate tools and technology that can help them improve patient outcomes. Let me try and provide a few examples as to how we help pharmacists free up their time so that they can help their patients with better health outcomes.
We provide automation throughout the Rx-filling process that reduces that effort to a few seconds. This has been our strength throughout the years. We take pride in performing one-click functions that allow them to fill prescriptions in the least amount of time required. The system automates their refill queues, adjudication, and exception handling so that the pharmacy team never misses a refill or a follow-up with a patient and/or caregiver.
Patients now expect information at the tip of their fingers. We have automated patient engagement features in the system that allow pharmacists to communicate with the patient as they go through their workflow, without the actual need of calling. The patient engagement is not limited to notifications but is truly a two-way communication that allows the pharmacy to send dose reminders, refill reminders, and pickup notifications, and to capture consents, remote signatures, and even copays by sending text messages in a secure manner to the patients. The entire communication channel is saved within the system. This is saving time, and at the same time, keeping effective communication with the patient.
For pharmacists to do their job effectively and give appropriate guidance to patients, they need access to clinical data, the ability to record prescriptions that are being filled outside of their pharmacy, and the ability to do complete DUR [drug utilization review] on the patients’ local and external profiles. Care plans are readily available that go beyond prescription filling.
”Imagine if all you needed to operate your pharmacy management system is simply the internet and a browser, what the possibilities are. We think they are endless, and that is where we are headed.” – Ketan Mehta
We provide integrations to all the various tools that a pharmacy needs to save time. For example, we provide integration with states that allow the pharmacy to view consumption of controlled meds by a patient before dispensing a control drug. We offer integration with companies that print Braille labels for patients with vision impairment.
We support various languages for dosage directions and patient counseling. Our software also supports video-based counseling.
We provide access to PBM [pharmacy benefit manager] data through real-time prescription benefit services, which allow the pharmacy to get a better understanding of what is covered and how to reduce the patient’s copay, thus facilitating better adherence, and to know ahead of time which drugs require a prior authorization or can be substituted for drugs that don’t require one.
We offer a prescriber validation service that validates whether the prescriber is active or not and can prescribe a class of drugs in a state, thereby ensuring that we are saving the pharmacists thousands of dollars in audit costs and saving time as well.
I have countless other examples. Saving time and making operations more efficient, avoiding dispensing errors, and providing access to tools that facilitate adherence and positive patient outcomes are at the core of every decision we make within our company.
CT: Streamlining a pharmacy’s workflow can have many benefits. What have you done here to improve workflow?
Mehta: We have two flavors of our workflow: the basic workflow, which most pharmacies will use, and the custom workflow that can be truly customized based on the pharmacy’s staffing levels. No two pharmacies are alike, so why should they all have to follow one workflow? We allow them to draw their workflow on paper and we mimic that exact workflow within our system. Then, within the defined workflow, we allow for various automated transitions that let the script be taken from one workflow step to another based on certain events that are captured, documented, and made available for reporting purposes. Not only is the workflow customized, but various actions resulting from a step or an event within the workflow are also automated, which includes notifications to the patients, syncing delivery or shipping services, or automating data feeds. The entire process can be as simple or as complex as needed, which is why it allows various dispensing practices within specialty or health systems to adapt to the system more effectively.
We also provide task managers, where certain tasks can be allocated to various departments or employees. The workflow and the task managers are customized and automated. This is one of the advantages of PrimeRx that can help simplify the business processes into an easy-to-follow workflow.
CT: It appears, from what I have heard, that Micro Merchant Systems is doing a good job in helping to improve a pharmacy’s financial health. Can you give us specific examples?
Mehta: One of the things that we are well aware of is that although pharmacies use PrimeRx with all its rich clinical data, analysis, and integrations, at the end of the day a pharmacy is also a business that needs a positive impact on its bottom line.
Pharmacists go to school so they can learn the best way that they can help patients reach their health goals. They are rarely coached on the business aspect of running a pharmacy, which is where PrimeRx can really help them.
To begin with, we can capture the cost of the medication. This allows us to provide appropriate alerts if the pharmacy is being paid under cost, and at the same time, we can provide a profit and revenue report as well. In the current environment where there are cuts in reimbursement, we allow the pharmacies to look at patient profitability as a whole, rather than just the profit on one particular script.
We even allow the pharmacy to define their DIR [direct and indirect remuneration] percentage for brands and generics and we show them the assumed DIR fee so that they know what the profit would be before and after that clawback.
Determining profit and revenue is one thing, but using data to forecast where you could generate more revenue is even more thought-provoking. We show them analytics on their patient population and the kind of therapies that are being dispensed in their pharmacies so that they can provide more training to their staff, which in turn will allow better patient care, which generates loyalty. It is important to retain the patients, and we have many tools to do just that.
We also offer integration with vendors that provide reconciliation services to keep track of receivables. We make copay collection a breeze — whether it is the traditional method of a patient walking into a pharmacy and using the credit-card tap or newer methods that were introduced during COVID-19, where we offered a remote and touchless Click2Pay option so that the patient can receive a text and pay on their own device using a secure mechanism. In short, we track revenue to the penny, to ensure that payments from payers are received.
CT: Now tell us a little about yourself — your background and the number of years you have been with the company.
Mehta: In one line, I can say that I am a servant leader, and that reflects in my management style as well.
I have been with the company for close to 25 of its over 30 years of existence. I started from the ground up by providing technical support to pharmacies, working behind the scenes in application design, data analytics, and database maintenance, then becoming the face of the company at tradeshows, and ultimately doing business development to grow the company and gather an excellent team of professionals. I may have learned software development and engineering in school, but everything I learned about business, and healthcare IT, I learned within the company and under my mentor, the late Mr. Akbar Merchant, who was the founder of the company.
We never really sold anything. We simply kept our ears open and let our creativity fuel the needs of the customer, and we have been growing organically mostly because pharmacies appreciated what we brought to the table, and they relied on us knowing that we would always do the right thing. We have been fortunate to have an excellent group of individuals who have focused their entire energy on servicing our pharmacies. The customer is at the focus of everything that we do. It has never really been anything else. It is as simple as that.
CT: This has been most interesting. Is there anything else you would like to add in closing?
Mehta: The only thing that I would like to add is that if you think of our products, I am certain that you will find unique ways to make a pharmacy audit proof, efficient, and profitable. We still feel excited with creative thoughts and ideas. Our years in business have made us smarter, more agile, and focused, which ultimately is something that benefits our clients.
We are known to be innovative. Look for us in the very near future as we once again use technology to revolutionize our platforms as we move from the now Windows-based solutions to browser-backed, power-packed pharmacy management systems, which will let the pharmacists and their staff take the care to the patients instead of getting the patients into the pharmacy.
Imagine if all you needed to operate your pharmacy management system is simply the internet and a browser, what the possibilities are. We think they are endless, and that is where we are headed. CT