In a conversation with Trey Tollstam from Synergy Medical, we hear how the incentives with star ratings are moving pharmacies toward different strategies. Maybe 10 to 15 years ago pharmacists didn’t have an incentive, or disincentive, based on outcomes. The pharmacy model is shaping from a fee-for-service payment model to pay-for-outcomes model, and Tollstam outlines where the future is headed and what he see from industry discussions; the ways that experts are wrestling with how pharmacists shift to pharmacies that are high performing and present great outcomes; and the role SynMed automation and adherence packaging plays.
ComputerTalk: Tell us how you see the U.S. pharmacy fee-for-service transitioning to fee-for-patient-outcomes?
Tollstam: When you look at the really great operators out there today, you’ll find that when they get a sense of how they can advance their goals, they are looking at where they can deploy labor and capital efficiency and expand patient services. These are goals that central fill can support. Central fill can free up pharmacy staff to provide the patient care and professional services to keep the customers they already have. By protecting and keeping the customer loyalty high, the pharmacy staff has free time to find new business. Central fill can also help a team enhance its patient-pharmacist relationship. The pharmacist will have time for comprehensive medication reviews and offering immunization programs. The time for these tasks has traditionally been taken up by counting pills. When you get a central-fill system, as an operator, you are able to push that pill counting off on the automation. This is where SynMed, our blister package automation system, can give a hand to the pharmacists by packaging blister cards in a safe, personalized and very efficient manner. The blister cards produced through SynMed are customized and provide a comprehensive review of what’s medication in the card. The card is color-coded, with patient photos and pill images for visual cues that speed verification and ensure dose delivery accuracy. When we go out and talk about central fill, the goal is to give the pharmacist the ability to free up time to provide patient counsel and provide other value added services.
If we back up and look at what’s driving this conversation, it is the cost of medication non-adherence. The cost annually to the healthcare industry is more than $300 billion dollars, and it’s the payers who are bearing the brunt of non-adherence, and they are the ones moving our industry to a pay for outcomes model. We, as a company, think that a strategy that pharmacies will use to improve outcomes is adherence packaging. Studies show that with multi-dose blister packaging, adherence is 97%, where as with other packaging, adherence is 62%. We think this fact is going to increase packaging use.
CT: What are some real-life examples of the impact of automation on pharmacy adherence programs?
Tollstam: One example is Rubicon Pharmacies, a chain of 62 pharmacies in Western Canada. Their chief business development officer, Michael Wright, is a progressive operator, and he realizes that blister packs drive patient adherence and outcomes. It’s great for the patient, as taking their medication as prescribed will help control their underlying condition, they also aren’t ending up back hospital due to medication error. This scenario is beneficial for the Payer, the Patient and the Pharmacy.
Automation with SynMed allows Pharmacy Chains to scale medication adherence. Our largest customer is preparing 17,000 multi-dose blister packs weekly. Over half of our 260 SynMed installations in North America are in central fill settings. As a company, Synergy Medical has deep expertise in this area.
CT: How do you work with pharmacies to support their adherence programs?
Tollstam: Our company philosophy is we’re not a vendor, we’re a partner. It’s not like we sell and install SynMed and go on to the next customer. We form a partnership with each customer and share a mutual interest in seeing them grow and increase the level of adherence packaging they offer to their community. We provide marketing materials that are community/patient centric, as well as materials that are professional facing. We have discussions about the facilities they want to service, and incorporate the services of our Director of Adherence to facilitate meetings to help them win new contracts. In addition our customer service representatives will regularly visit our customers after installation. Their role is to keep them up to date on software enhancements, new features, and also to observe workflow with SynMed to ensure best practices are followed so owners are getting the most efficient use of the SynMed robot. This ongoing support moves us past vendor status and more towards a true partnership
If you look at our company, we are 54 people who are completely focused on the design, engineering, manufacturing, service, and support of the SynMed System. We are giving our customers everything we have and are doing so in a partnership with a laser focus from every department. Some companies offer 20 different products. We do one thing, and we do it at the highest level.
CT: What are your goals for the next six months?
Tollstam: Our goal in the next six months is to simply work hard and smart as a group and to help facilitate change within our Industry. The transition to the Pay for Outcomes model for Pharmacy is still early innings, we will champion our robust technology, our track record for service, and our unique position to enable organizations to introduce a medication adherence strategy that includes closing the adherence loop, with multi dose adherence packaging. CT