By ComputerTalk Senior Editor Will Lockwood

McKesson ideaShare 2013 offered ComputerTalk senior editor Will Lockwood the chance to hear from Nathan Mott, president of McKesson Pharmacy Systems and Automation, about the latest tool the division is rolling out: McKesson Mobile Delivery App for the iOS platform. In this interview, Mott outlines the rationale for the app, the situations it was developed for, and where he sees things going once adoption gets rolling.

CT: Nathan, let’s start by getting an overview of the app.
Nathan Mott:
This app brings pharmacy to the point of care. It is complementary to our pharmacy management systems and our point of sale. It bridges the gap between the retail pharmacy and bedside or home-based care. All round it makes pharmacy more convenient for the patient.

CT: And where do you envision customers putting the app to use?
The app can be used to support home delivery services that a retail pharmacy offers or for bedside delivery of medications at discharge in a health-system setting. Typically, a delivery service creates a receivable for the pharmacy and then tries to get the payment later. The app will take payment right at the point of delivery which helps the pharmacy’s cash flow. The app should help pharmacies achieve improved adherence goals with homebound patients or high-risk patients leaving the hospital with an extensive prescription regimen.

CT: Making sure the patient actually has the medication, whether through home or bedside delivery, is really the first step in improving adherence, isn’t it?
That’s right. If patient’s leave with the right scripts in hand on day one, it’s much less likely they will return to hospital. A surprising number of patients never pick up their medications after discharge, so there’s no way they are going to be adherent. Using this app to deliver the medications and take payment ensures that they are discharged ready to begin the course of therapy, and it also makes sure that there’s an opportunity to have a conversation that helps them understand what they’ve been prescribed, why, and how they are supposed to take it. It creates a much better chance for them to be compliant and avoid readmission.

CT: What forms of payment can the app accept?
It has robust capabilities. You can accept cash, credit and debit cards, FSA cards, and you can do partials from any of those. It makes payment really easy and moves pharmacies away from simply putting deliveries on the patient’s house charge account and then having to send a bill and wait. This app gives a pharmacy much more rapid access to its cash flow.

CT: The app is designed for Apple mobile devices, right? What motivated you to choose iOS for the platform?
Platform selection came down to three factors: quality, dependability and cost. iOS devices are of a high quality, are simple to use and familiar to people. Dependability is very high because the latest hardware devices produced by Apple run on the same iOS platform, whereas multiple different hardware manufacturers use the Android platform and dependability is not consistent. To accommodate a variety of budgets, we designed the app to work with iPhone, iPad and iPod. Our package allows customers to bring their own Apple device and download the app direct. The only other thing they need is a card scanner that plugs right into the headphone jack. That’s it, which keeps it really simple. The whole setup is very intuitive. It’s just a four-step process from download to being up and running.

CT: You are clearly capturing the credit- and debit-card signatures. What about the other signatures a pharmacy needs?
We are capturing all the necessary signatures, whether it’s for HIPAA acknowledgement, or third party acknowledgement. We’ve also built in tracking for controlled substance prescriptions so the pharmacy can report federal identification information and relationship to patient in states that mandate this information when a prescription is released.

CT: Once you have all the information from the patient, how does the app communicate it back to the pharmacy management system?
We use a cloud model and you can access and download all the information through a Web portal. The app is designed to work with all three of our pharmacy management systems using a specific barcode format that our systems can read.

CT: Tell me more about the data collected to for controlled substance reporting requirements.
: We feel that it is very important to make it easy during delivery for pharmacies to collect the specific information that the PMP programs require. The app can collect the recipient’s relationship to patient and federal ID details. So you know who actually received controlled substance prescriptions.

CT: And what about security of the data the app is collecting?
Security was a real focus when we developed the app. No credit card information is saved on the device. The transmission is end-to-end encrypted. And there isn’t any specific prescription data on the device.

CT: What’s the release schedule for this app?
We’ve been testing it internally and showing it to customers, and it was formally in beta. General release should come at the end of the summer.

CT: What pharmacy settings do you see this gaining traction in first?
We’ve talked to key customers about the app and are seeing interest across the board. Independents are very excited about it because so many of them offer delivery and need electronic signature capture to support that service. On the outpatient side, we’ve already talked a little about the opportunity to use the app when discharging patients. There’s also interest among the chains. For example, we’ve heard from customers that they are excited to apply the app to drive-through, where it’s often not really easy or convenient to get signatures. And all the segments are seeing the opportunity for crossover and for benefits in all these areas: delivery, bedside, and drive-through.

CT: Pharmacists can be pretty creative with a new tool, once they get their hands on it. Where do you see the Mobile Delivery App heading once it’s in general release?

Mott: I think that there are so many uses for the app, and what we’ve just been talking about only scratches the surface. Here’s just one example of what we may see: We’ve been talking to one chain customer that already does grocery deliveries and is excited to think about how they can use this delivery app to support adding prescriptions and to these runs. Really, we’re just at phase one with the app, and we’re excited to hear about where pharmacies want to go. Rolling the app out for iOS means that many people already have the hardware they need, with the exception of the card reader, and so they can add this technology very easily and cost effectively. CT