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In this interview with ComputerTalk’s Maggie Lockwood, Speed Script’s CEO Chuck Welch explains how patient relationship management (PRM) is the future of pharmacy. When software and technology close the loop on pharmacy data, providing better business intelligence within the pharmacy system, pharmacists have an easier time managing and communicating with their patients. The end result is more time to build a business that moves beyond prescriptions and focuses on what’s important: helping patients with their healthcare.
ComputerTalk: Tell me about patient relationship management and why it’s so important for the future of pharmacy.
Chuck Welch: This is becoming more important as adherence is becoming more prevalent, and we are seeing more companies offering different services to contact the patient on the pharmacy’s behalf. Services include a human calling a patient to see if they could set the patient up on a reminder program and to talk with the patient about their prescriptions, or texting patients to let them know a script needs to be filled, the doctor needs to be contacted, or a refill is due or ready to be picked up. Many different automation systems are being introduced to pharmacies to aid in patient adherence and to help drive down overall costs for the pharmacy.
ComputerTalk: How is it a new vision for pharmacy management?
Welch: As we see the different automation systems starting to come online and performing tasks for the pharmacy, the resulting information needs to be sent back to the pharmacy and tracked in the pharmacy management system and assigned to the patient for whom the task was performed. If a patient receives a refill reminder text on the phone and shows up at the pharmacy and asks, “Why did you text me?” the first thing the pharmacist will tell the patient is, “We didn’t text you.” Then the patient shows the text, where it looks like the pharmacy did text the patient, making the pharmacy wonder, “What is going on?” If this information was sent to the pharmacy and assigned to the patient record, the pharmacist would be able to look in the pharmacy management system and see why the patient got a text and where it came from. This would make the pharmacy look better in the patient’s eyes, when the pharmacy is able to say, “Oh, yes. I see here, a text was sent to you and we have the prescription ready for you right here.”
ComputerTalk: This is all about integration of information. What are pharmacists missing out on now by not seeing all the actions taking place around a patient?
Welch: Business intelligence. We hear it in the news, in marketing programs, and all over the technology landscape. Data is flowing across many different systems around the healthcare landscape. If the data is not transmitted to the right people in the right format, there is no intelligence whatsoever. By bringing the data back from different systems and letting the pharmacy know what is going on, it allows the pharmacy a chance to better serve patients and also be able to review services being offered to patients by the pharmacies and their business partners. For example, a text for a refill reminder may have been sent to a patient, and the patient has not come to the pharmacy to refill the prescription; the pharmacist should then be able to see that texting is not working for a specific patient and another process might need to be used for this patient. Maybe someone needs to call and see what can be done to help the patient. As we know, one way of communicating does not work for everyone.
ComputerTalk: How does PRM empower a pharmacy owner to close the loop on communication with a patient, and how does this improve patient-pharmacist relationships?
Welch: By closing the loop with different services and communicating the information back to the pharmacy. This allows the pharmacist or someone in the pharmacy to possibly add a personal touch to the patient’s experience. Automation does not solve everything. The hope is that automation along with business intelligence allows the pharmacy to be more informed and better suited to add a personal touch to the patient’s experience when needed, and allows for better service to the patient overall.
ComputerTalk: How will PRM tie together clinical programs that are the pharmacy’s future?
Welch: As the interfaces evolve and grow together, the information about fills, times that patients come in to pick up prescriptions, medication sync times, MTM [medication therapy management], eCare, and other systems all become more integrated with each other, and the best place for this to happen is the pharmacy management system. I believe that over the next few years, the interfaces and systems will continue to mature and evolve, enabling pharmacies to continue to deliver the services they need to deliver to patients and help improve the personal aspect of the patient-pharmacist relationship.