Publisher’s Window: May/June 2014

In 2009 the American Society for Automation in Pharmacy (ASAP) published an analysis of the investment pharmacies make in technology and the impact this has on the patient in three categories: patient safety, patient adherence, and the prevention of fraud and abuse.

This year ASAP took another look at the 2009 numbers and made adjustments based on more current costs associated with the technology used. While the initial report homed in on community retail pharmacy, the update included closed-door pharmacies servicing long-term care facilities as well.

The analysis recognized that technology will improve operating efficiency in a pharmacy, but the intent was to demonstrate how the technology can benefit patients and the cost added to a prescription.

For the community practice setting, three different pharmacy profiles were used to show how different technology and costs come into play as prescription volume increases. The analysis concluded that for pharmacies filling 100 to 200 prescriptions a day, the total technology cost added to a prescription is $0.60. For pharmacies filling 200 to 300 prescriptions a day, the added cost is $1.21, and for those pharmacies filling 300 to 500+ prescriptions a day, the cost is $1.46.

What’s impressive is that patient safety benefits can be attributed to 21 different technology-based systems and services used in a community pharmacy; that eight technology-based systems directly benefit patient adherence to their medications; and that 10 systems address the prevention of fraud and abuse.

The investment cost on a per-prescription basis is higher in pharmacies that serve long-term care facilities as their sole business. Here the metrics used were the midpoint of the number of LTC facilities served and the bed-size range. The cost on a per-prescription basis was higher, due to the need to deploy more expensive technology. But the patient benefits followed the same pattern, with the technology used primarily benefiting patient safety.

The reason for this undertaking by ASAP was to call to the attention of the insurance plans — ranging from private pay to state and federal government plans — the investment pharmacies have made in technology-based systems as a separate line-item cost when addressing the cost to fill a prescription. But more importantly, how this added cost benefits patients.

Will the government affairs folks at the professional pharmacy associations make use of the ASAP analysis to promote the justification for higher reimbursement from third-party payers? They should, because of the tremendous patient benefits accruing from the investment pharmacies have made in technology. The analysis can be found at the ASAP website: CT

Bill Lockwood, chairman/publisher, can be reached at