Running an independent pharmacy is a nonstop balancing act. Between filling orders, meeting with patients and managing your staff, it’s easy to feel overwhelmed. That’s why it’s crucial to maximize efficiency across all areas of your pharmacy.

Whether you’re making better use of your pharmacy technology or your staff’s time, a few adjustments can create a big impact on day-to-day operations. Here are three tips from popular blog posts to help you improve efficiency and increase performance.

1. Switch to med sync

Once you start to streamline operations, your patients see a direct benefit. One way to improve efficiency that directly benefits patients is by creating a medication synchronization (med sync) program. Med sync means patients no longer have to visit your pharmacy multiple times a month to pick up different prescriptions. Instead, they can pick up all their drugs once a month at a scheduled time.

Mike Mills discusses med sync in “Driving Medication Adherence at Your Independent Pharmacy.” Mills is the regional franchise operations director for Health Mart. He explains that med sync not only improves adherence, but also efficiency. Here are three ways that switching to med sync can streamline operations at your independent pharmacy:

  • Your schedule becomes more predictable, because you know when patients are coming in to pick up their drugs. Med sync helps you create more “appointments” for patients to collect their medications, meaning you can better predict how busy you may be at a given time and how to staff each day.
  • You have more time to counsel patients. You can go over any concerns about medication side effects, health questions or other concerns when patients come in to pick up their medication. Instead of a patient picking up their drug one day, having a question the next and coming in the following week to ask it, all of those steps are taken care of at the same time.
  • Your patients are more adherent to their drugs. This helps clinical and financial results at your pharmacy, but also makes it easier to track patient outcomes. You spend less time wondering if a patient is taking their medication, because you have monthly confirmation that a patient is picking up their drugs.

When you switch to med sync, you streamline the process of prescription pickup and counseling, and you also make the entire experience more convenient for your patients.

2. Use your staff wisely

It’s not enough to think about how programs and specific pharmacy offerings can be maximized. You should also consider how to maximize your staff’s time. Does everyone have clear-cut roles and responsibilities? Are your pharmacists’ tasks making the best use of their time, or can these tasks be delegated or automated? Steven Oh addresses this in “Why Efficiency is Crucial to Your Independent Pharmacy’s Success.” Oh is the regional director of pharmacy performance for Health Mart Atlas. He notes three ways to use your staff to maximize efficiency:

  • Standardize work processes for all staff members. Everyone should have specific roles and responsibilities and be following your processes on a daily basis. That will reduce wasted time and effort.
  • Maximize your talent by using your staff the right way. There are a lot of tasks your pharmacists do that your technicians can do instead. Filling prescriptions is a great example; your techs should be doing that.
  • Make sure your staff is taking advantage of your PMS’ full functionality. Your PMS likely has many functions you’re not using. For example, are you using it to automate all your routine tasks? If you do, your staff can focus on more important tasks, like spending one-on-one time with patients.

When everyone has clearly identified roles, daily operations run much more smoothly. Plus, when you delegate or automate time-intensive tasks, your pharmacists can spend more time on patient care.

3. Automate claims management functions

Anything that takes up a lot of your pharmacist’s time and disrupts their normal workflow can make operations less efficient. Too many starts and stops throughout the day will slow down processes that affect patients and your pharmacy’s bottom line. One task that’s becoming increasingly time-intensive to perform manually is claims management. Catherine Romanick discusses this in “Improving Pharmacy Claims Reimbursement for Community Pharmacies.” Romanick is the director of product management for RelayHealth Pharmacy Solutions. She notes that claims management is getting increasingly complex. Luckily, you can use technology to automate claims management processes so that speed and efficiency improve. Some of the claims management functions you can automate include:

  • Pricing. You can use your technology platform to compare the average wholesale price (AWP) submitted by your pharmacy for a drug against the up-to-date AWP for the same drug. If the pharmacy-submitted AWP is lower, the application will raise the AWP to the right level to increase reimbursement.
  • Dispensing. You can also use technology to confirm dispense-as-written (DAW) codes, which tell health plans that the prescriber or patient requested a specific brand-name drug. If the DAW code is entered as a default code, your pharmacy may be paid a lower generic drug rate for the actual brand-name drug it dispensed.
  • Managing inventory. Easily validate the national drug code (NDC) assigned to drugs for which claims were submitted. Drug manufacturers recycle NDCs, meaning a code could become obsolete for a discontinued drug and reassigned to a new drug. With technology, your pharmacy is quickly notified of an obsolete NDC, creating the opportunity to change the NDC and potentially increase reimbursement.
  • Dosing and packaging. Automatically check a pharmacy claim for a specific drug, its dosage and the drug’s unit-packaging against the maximum allowable daily dose (MADD) and its recommended packaging. Claims for drugs dispensed with the right MADD and in the right unit-packaging will be reimbursed appropriately.
  • Prior authorization. You can automate key portions of the prior authorization process so patients don’t have to wait long to receive the green light for their prescription. This helps avoid treatment delays and improves customer satisfaction.

Automating these functions with technology can help you can improve the speed and accuracy of your claims management processes. Doing so can help you maximize revenue, improve cash flow, and increase efficiency.

By making a few adjustments at your independent pharmacy, you can start to improve efficiency. Daily operations will take less time. Your staff will have more time to focus on patients. And your patients will benefit from the convenience of improved workflows and more one-on-one care.

Related: Learn more about McKesson’s operational efficiency services and technology for pharmacies

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McKesson editorial staff is committed to sharing innovative approaches and insights so our customers can get the most out of their business solutions and identify areas for operational improvement and revenue growth.

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