Pharmacy management systems can often do more than you think to save time and money
- Taking advantage of updates to your pharmacy management system can produce new business opportunities.
- Consumer applications also offer solutions to make pharmacy operations more efficient.
When Adrienne Cervone, became owner of Beaver Health Mart in Beaver, Pennsylvania, in September 2015, she discovered she didn’t need to buy a new pharmacy management system to improve the pharmacy’s efficiency.
Using What’s Already There
The previous owner had not run some updates on the pharmacy management system, Pharmaserv®. Simply installing those updates allowed Cervone to take advantage of additional features that were already in the system but just weren’t being used. For example, “I immediately picked up autofill,” she said.
Although the pharmacy is starting to offer medication synchronization, she said, “We wanted to start with autofill.” Within four months, 25% of her customers were on autofill, and her pharmacy’s prescription adherence measures were up 5%. “We made it in the top 20% on EQuIPP,” she said.
5 features to check out in your PMS
The pharmacy management system you already own may offer features like these to improve operations:
- Perpetual inventory. By monitoring inventory the system allows for accurate and efficient reordering and restocking, uncovers shrinkage and theft, and produces more accurate interim financials.
- Reports. Most systems have comprehensive standard reports available that provide valuable insight into your pharmacy’s operations, and many allow you to create custom reports. For example, with reporting systems you can identify slow-moving inventory, generate reminders when patients are due for refills, and identify patients who have transferred prescriptions out of your pharmacy, so you can work to win those patients back.
- Auto refill or prefill functionality. Help keep patients adherent to maintenance medications by setting parameters for the system to submit patient refills.
- E-Prescribing. Improve efficiency and patient safety by eliminating handwritten and faxed notes from physicians.
- Workflow. Create optimized, automated task assignments to pharmacy staff, for routing the workload and verifying prescriptions.
Cervone set the pharmacy management system to make calls in her voice when a patient is due for a refill, and to call customers when a prescription has been filled and is ready to pick up. “It gets the medication that’s filled out of the pharmacy,” she said.
A recent pharmacy inspector was surprised at how little inventory Beaver Health Mart had set to go back in stock.
Because the pharmacy management system automatically calls customers a few days before a refill is due, it gives the pharmacy time to take care of any issues, such as when the patient doesn’t have any refills left on the prescription. It has evened out the workflow in the pharmacy, because patients aren’t walking in as often with prescriptions they need right away.
The pharmacy management system gave the owner the flexibility to choose which parts to use. “It doesn’t have to be all or nothing,” Cervone said.
Beaver Health Mart also uses a consumer task-list application, ToDo, as a checklist and reminder system. The software is backed up in the cloud, and staff members access it from an iPad on the pharmacy counter.
With the ToDo app the staff can see everything that needs to be done, from calls to patients to routine tasks like vacuuming three days a week.
To maintain privacy no patient identifiers are kept in the app, but Cervone uses it to set reminders to call customers, such as when a patient needs a second immunization or a monthly B12 shot.
The staff also uses this app to keep track of the things they must do regularly, such as checking the obituaries in the newspaper each day. Since the pharmacy serves many older patients they don’t want to upset a family by calling with a refill reminder for a recently deceased relative.
“It’s a very organized way of making sure everything gets done,” Cervone said.
She even uses the ToDo app to better manage her inventory. “If we have to special order a drug for a patient, I’ll make a task to order it three days before they’re due,” Cervone said. That way her cash isn’t tied up in inventory. “I have a really tight inventory because of this,” she said.
With ToDo and Rx Tracker in Pharmaserv, Beaver Health Mart’s inventory turns are now at 21. “It has really cut down the amount of inventory I have on my shelf,” Cervone said. “I have drugs whenever patients need it.” (Learn more about inventory turnover rates and other key financial indicators in “Give Your Pharmacy a Financial Checkup.”)
“I use Rx Tracker for so much more than it was originally intended,” Cervone said, digging into information about her pharmacy beyond the reports available and looking at the use of individual medications and when prescriptions were refilled. “Inventory is my No. 1 use for it.”
“Technology really can make our lives better, as well as our patients’ lives,” Cervone said. “It frees time to interact more with patients.”
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