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Three questions to ask before integrating a new solution.
For many long-term care (LTC) pharmacies, offering value-added services while maintaining the bottom line can be a challenge.
When considering new technology for your LTC pharmacy, ask yourself these three questions:
Deciding Where to Invest: Will the upfront investment pay off in efficiencies?
Tech trends to consider: software solutions for order intake, delivery, real-time inventory management, workflow, and automation systems
The technology that powers LTC pharmacies can improve efficiency. It can also be exceedingly expensive. The first priority when introducing a new piece of technology into an LTC pharmacy is choosing where to spend money. For example, do you want to add automation to increase fills, or would you rather optimize inventory management to improve cash flow?
The right tool speeds up processes, but the wrong one can cause extra steps and waste time and money. Do your research to determine the best use of resources.
Automation technology offers LTC pharmacists tremendous value in the form of time, efficiencies, and compliance — and those are just a few of the advantages. Pharmacy robots automatically fill several different blister packs, vials, and pouches. This may require two different machines, so pharmacies must consider staff workload if they only have the funds to purchase one. While these machines represent a high initial output of capital, they can do the work of a number of pharmacy technicians. Employees can then turn their focus to tasks that require specialized attention.
On the software side, order intake, real-time inventory management, workflow documentation, and medication delivery can all be tracked via various programs. Cost is also a consideration, as some software platforms can cost tens of thousands of dollars (and that’s before system upgrades, add-ons, and new applications). When the systems work in harmony, pharmacists, providers, and payers communicate seamlessly to ensure LTC patients get the care and medications they need quickly and efficiently.
Setting up the System: What will it take to integrate?
Tech trends to consider: POS (point of sale) software, ordering systems, workflow management
Once a LTC pharmacist decides on the best use of funds, the second priority is to make sure chosen systems work together and are secure. All ordering and inventory and POS software must integrate. It can be a struggle, though, to find systems compatible with a pharmacy‘s workflow. Product demonstrations, trial periods for software, and word of mouth from other pharmacists who have successfully used the technology are great ways to hear feedback on potential solutions before making the jump.
The Payoff: What is the end value for the pharmacy, facility, and patients?
Tech trends to consider: inventory management, compliance monitoring, claims, and billing systems
The third priority is to make sure the technology brings value to the pharmacist and his or her partners in care. On the safety side, some technology can track regulations and alert if a pharmacy is out of compliance. RFID badges can monitor and record storage and dispensing of medications. Adherence packaging directs patients when and how to take their medication, an option that could prove beneficial for non-acute LTC populations.
Even with updated and integrated technology, the human touch remains irreplaceable when running a LTC pharmacy. Billing staff needs to be well-trained in the customer base and the LTC space. Similarly, strong relationships with all partners are essential to making the pharmacy an integral cog in the greater wheel of the LTC organization. Pharmacists can use the time saved from employing technology to nurture relationships with clinical staff at their facilities. Maintaining lines of communication is important to ensuring comprehensive care for patients.
Under the merit-based incentivized payment system, providers are rewarded based on the value of the care they deliver to patients with Medicare. For many LTC facilities, that represents a major segment of their base. Pharmacists can use medication adherence technology to help prescribers improve their performance on quality metrics and help patients improve outcomes.
Technology can be a valuable investment for a LTC pharmacy. The right investments can save time and encourage more efficient relationships and workflows, paving the way to continued success.
Read more content by Marc Johnson and learn more about AmerisourceBergen’s Long-term Care Solutions by visiting www.amerisourcebergen.com/solutions-pharmacies/long-term-care