Preventing and managing chronic medical illnesses are widely viewed by experts as the most effective strategies to bend the health care cost curve. The five most read blog posts on McKesson.com over the past few months indicate that senior-level health care executives from across industry sectors have embraced those strategies to improve population health and their own business health.

In “Optimizing Data Analytics for Oncology Practice Success,” McKesson’s Dan Lodder explained how community-based oncology practices can close the gap between their big data capabilities now and the capabilities they’ll need in the future to provide optimum care to patients with cancer. One of the biggest opportunities is using technology to convert unstructured data into actionable information that oncologists can use at the point of care to make better clinical decisions, according to Lodder, vice president and general manager of technology solutions for McKesson Specialty Health. For example, Lodder said, “By structuring that information and making it accessible to the physician, the physician may see that the patient fits the profile for a specific clinical trial.”

In “Maximizing Immunotherapy Clinical Trials for Community Oncologists,“ McKesson’s Michael Seiden, M.D., discussed the crucial role that community-based oncology practices play in developing new immunotherapy drug treatments for cancer patients. Dr. Seiden, chief medical officer for the US Oncology Network and McKesson Specialty Health, said such practices are ideal clinical trial sites because they offer the type and volume of cancer patients that drug manufacturers need to test new immunotherapies. Dr. Seiden also provided five tips for practices to ensure that they deliver on that promise. Among them are making full use of clinical decision support tools and marketing clinical trials to referring physicians and academic medical centers. “With the right approach, practices can drive the maximum value for their patients and businesses,” Dr. Seiden said.

In “Emerging Technologies Define Pharmacy of the Future,” McKesson’s Emilie Ray answered six questions on new technologies that will enable retail and outpatient pharmacies to grow and succeed in an industry soon to be dominated by value-based care delivery models. High on Ray’s list were advances in medical screening technologies that allow pharmacies to safely and accurately screen patients on site for chronic medical conditions. Ray, who is president of McKesson Pharmacy Technology and Services, cited blood pressure machines to check for hypertension and blood tests to check blood sugar levels for diabetes as examples. “Other pharmacy management systems apps such as medication therapy management portals and automated medication synchronization scheduling tools also can help retail and outpatient pharmacies drive improved adherence and better management of chronic medical diseases,” she said.

In “Five Steps for Independent Pharmacies to Start a Vaccine Program,” McKesson’s Callie Barr identified the key considerations independent retail pharmacies must make when deciding whether to launch a seasonal and routine vaccine program for customers and patients. On Barr’s checklist were getting educated on state regulations on pharmacist vaccine administration and acquiring the resources necessary to effectively manage vaccine inventory and supplies. According to Barr, who is associate program manager for McKesson Retail Pharmacy Product Development, pharmacy-based immunization services offer a number of clinical and business benefits. Among them: “Complementing and supporting other chronic disease management pharmacy services,” Barr said.

In “Leveraging Medication Therapy Management for Independent Pharmacies," McKesson’s editorial staff outlined the various levels of medication therapy management (MTM) services and explained how independent pharmacies can use each level to improve medication use by customers and patients and better manage their acute and chronic medical illnesses. The three types of MTM are targeted interventions, comprehensive medication reviews and targeted medication reviews. Regardless of intensity level, pharmacies must integrate MTM into their workflows to maximize its clinical value to customers and patients and its business value to the pharmacies. The facilitators of that workflow integration are technology, staff and synchronization. “Pharmacies should utilize their entire clinical team from technicians to pharmacists to make their MTM services as efficient and effective as possible,” the post said.

As the five blog posts illustrate, providers and pharmacies are using a variety of tactics to prevent and manage chronic illness—from big data to clinical trials to screening technologies to vaccine programs to medication therapy management. Although the tactics may differ, the strategies are the same: reduce costs by keeping healthy people healthy and people with chronic diseases as healthy as possible.

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McKesson editorial staff is committed to offering innovative approaches and insights so that our customers can get the most out of the health care solutions they have and identify areas for operational improvement, revenue growth and improved patient satisfaction. If you have a suggestion for a blog topic you’d like to see covered, let us know in the comments.