Al Babbington
Al Babbington

Star Ratings and other quality metrics are reigniting the conversation around two age-old problems: improved medication adherence and streamlined pharmacy workflow. Payers are already incentivized or penalized based on patient adherence, its not long before pharmacy reimbursement will be, a least in part, based on quality. How do we accomplish both better workflow and better patient adherence simultaneously? An important part of the puzzle is the implementation of an appointment-based medication (ABM) process. ABM implemented with new technology will improve efficiency, increase medication adherence, and drive additional pharmacy revenue.

ABM programs, often referred to as med sync programs, align prescription fills so they can all be picked up at the same time, instead of patients making several trips to the pharmacy. Equally important, these synchronized refills are combined with monthly follow up communications to learn about any changes a physician may have made since the last refill was completed and uncover obstacles to adherence. This process creates a more productive experience for both the patient and the pharmacist. And, despite the decreased number of visits, pharmacies see significantly increased revenue per patient.

ABM, while simple in description, has always been difficult to implement. The steps to implementing ABM include:

  1. Identifying patients that qualify
  2. Recruiting them to participate
  3. Calculating the short fill days
  4. Managing a high volume of patients.

Each has its challenges. Best of class technology like StarWellness can automate each step along the way and allow the pharmacy to break through the glass ceiling of enrolled participants. Even the interaction with the physician is made easier.

Patients on multiple meds visit the pharmacy several times during any given month for refills, but appointment-based models are changing all that. ABM makes it more convenient for the customer, and convenience makes adherence easier. The first step is making the commitment to implement ABM. Once you commit your pharmacy, the StarWellness technology makes it easy. An added benefit we are seeing is increased patient satisfaction and loyalty. A recent study showed that by enrolling 20% of your patient population in ABM this group will generate 80% of your pharmacy revenue.

The time is come. Pharmacists are accountable for how well they manage patient adherence, disease management, and a growing list of other Star measurements. This is great news for independent pharmacies. We now have an opportunity to compete on quality rather than only access and price. A recent NCPA sponsored study indicates that the most important factor for adherence is the relationship a pharmacist has with his or her patients. Armed with the right tools independents can win on quality because they are the most trusted health care professional in their community.

With this technology, pharmacists can take on a more proactive role with their patients. The implementation is fast and the automated solutions provide immediate and measurable results for improved Star Ratings. Efficiencies are created allowing pharmacists to use ABM as a foundation for other services. A structured, interactive relationship with patients means pharmacists are able to offer additional patient services where needed, including immunizations, chronic disease counseling, MTM, transitional care solutions and more.

The commitment to managing patient adherence is essential for today’s retail pharmacy. Appointment-based medication services implemented with StarWellness technology will eliminate the excessive burden of implementing a new program and prepare you for the future of pharmacy reimbursement based on quality. Don’t wait. Be proactive with your pharmacy business and start applying these practices now.

At the time of writing, Al Babbington was President and CEO at PrescribeWellness, a Tabula Rasa HealthCare Company.