Become sync savvy

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Fully implementing med sync boosts financial, operational and clinical performance

In brief:

  • An effective med sync program improves pharmacy operations, finances and clinical performance
  • A Health Mart® Performance Team is helping pharmacies to launch med sync programs, and take programs to higher levels of performance
  • A key to med sync success is engaging staff, which starts with explaining why it is essential

Med sync’s many benefits

A fully implemented medication synchronization program produces game-changing results:

  • Patients’ medication adherence improves by +27%
  • Dispensing time is cut by -57%
  • Inbound calls drop by -51%

Health Mart’s director of clinical performance, Steve Oh, has seen these results firsthand. He routinely witnesses the positive impact on quality of life that med sync makes in a pharmacy. Thanks to med sync, instead of feeling burdened and frustrated, many owners start enjoying the practice of pharmacy again.

“There aren’t a lot of silver bullets out there that are going to take care of all of the issues that pharmacies face,” Oh observed, but a med sync program provides operational, financial and clinical benefits.”5

With med sync, pharmacy staff operates more efficiently, inventory is better managed, and improved adherence leads to an increase in prescriptions. While the pharmacy’s performance on quality measures rises, patients also consistently benefit from the elevated level of care they receive.

Kick-starting and fine-tuning med sync

Oh and other members of the Health Mart Performance Team work with pharmacies across the country to help kick-start new med sync programs and to improve performance in pharmacies that are already implementing med sync.

Although more than 50% of Health Marts already offer med sync, only about 30% run it at a level where they are reaping all the potential benefits that med sync can provide.

Med sync resources just a click away
In the Pharmacy Resources section of this website, you’ll find:

  • Top 5 Steps to Getting Started with Med Sync
  • The Importance of Laying the Right Foundation
  • Med Sync Patient Recruitment Talking Points
  • Maximize Your Med Sync Appointments
  • And more valuable tips and advice!

Are you ready?

Preparing for med sync and improving an existing program involves gaining buy-in and support from staff and customers by conveying clear benefits.

Preparing for a med sync program involves both planning the workflow and managing change. “This is a process that the whole team needs to buy into,” Oh said. The staff must understand how the healthcare payment model is shifting from a fee for the service of filling prescriptions to payment for performance based on clinical results.

“Understanding that transition is critical,” Oh said. “It’s a huge change.”

Pharmacy leaders need to explain the benefits to staff in immediate terms. For example:

  • If it takes two to three minutes to fill a prescription
  •  … and the pharmacy can fill five prescriptions in one visit for a patient
  • … it can cut the total time to fill all of a patient’s prescriptions in half

Fewer calls and walk-ins for last-minute refills also free staff from numerous interruptions throughout the workday.

Setting goals for the staff, planning the action steps, monitoring progress, and celebrating success keeps everyone on track. “When you first start, it can be overwhelming,” said Catherine Brown, co-owner of Main Street and East Main pharmacies in Tennessee. So, make sure staff members understand there may be difficulty during the transition, but in the end the workload will be dramatically reduced.

It is also important that patients embrace the change and see benefits. “Often, their idea of a refill reminder is an empty pill bottle,” Oh said. “We’re one of the only healthcare destinations where people can come in without an appointment.” Patients will buy into the new process when they realize the convenience and see that it helps them better manage their conditions.

Refer to med sync in a simple way that patients understand, such as “the planned pickup.” Assure patients that:

  • They won’t have to pick up their medications as frequently
  • Your pharmacy will handle all refill authorizations in advance
  • You will provide concierge-level service to address any issues

Start with patients you know well and who will work with your staff to initiate the change. The best people to initially enroll are 65 and over and are taking at least two maintenance medications.

Pushing ahead

Once 30% of eligible patients enroll in a pharmacy’s med sync program, the operational, clinical and financial benefits become clear.

The results may take 90 to 180 days to show, but the outcome of increased adherence raises the number of prescriptions the pharmacy is filling, and helps move the scores on clinical quality measures into the top 20% of pharmacies. Labor-saving benefits can also result.

However, pharmacies often struggle with the initial change process. Staff members who are not fully trained to use new pharmacy systems for the sync program will default to their old, more comfortable, way of doing things.

“People are going to push back on certain things,” Oh said. This is the reason it is critical for team members to understand why the change to med sync is important and that the pharmacy has a system for monitoring progress toward its goals. Ensure that staff training is an integral part of your med sync implementation.

Sync success

When pharmacy team members buy in and embrace the change to sync, they find better ways to operate and new opportunities to serve patients. They take advantage of the tools and support available through the myHealthMart online portal, Oh said, and identify even more revenue opportunities.

For example, staff might remind a patient to wear a short-sleeved shirt during their next pickup so they can receive a flu shot, and will have done a comprehensive medication review before the patient arrives for an appointment.

Top-performing pharmacies have a consistent workflow and cross-train staff so that if a technician is absent or leaves there is no disruption in the med sync program.

“Every pharmacy that’s not doing med sync is at the mercy of every patient who walks in with an empty pill bottle,” Oh said. In contrast, in pharmacies with a fully operational med sync program, “there are hardly any phone calls and the staff is calm and relaxed.”

So what are you waiting for? Get sync savvy and boost your pharmacy’s performance!