McKesson's Emilie Ray was the featured guest on the 300th episode of the Pharmacy Podcast Show, produced by the Pharmacy Podcast Network.

Ray is president of McKesson's Pharmacy Technology & Services. During her interview on the Pharmacy Podcast Show, Ray outlined the ways various digital tools and technologies can enable retail pharmacies to transform their businesses from a drug dispensing model to a patient care-driven model.

The need for retail independent pharmacies to transform themselves comes in response to a number of major economic forces reshaping the health care system generally and the pharmacy business specifically. Among them are health care consumerism, value-based care models and increased competition.

“Patients are becoming more engaged in their health as they have hands-on access to their own health data,” Ray said in her podcast interview. “Pharmacies need to provide patients with the same level of digital engagement and convenience.”

Use Digital Tools to Interact and Engage with Patients

Retail pharmacies should leverage the latest digital technologies to find new ways to connect and engage their patients where they are and at their convenience.

According to Ray, pharmacy patients should be able to refill prescriptions electronically through:

  • How Technology Can Transform the Business of Retail PharmacyApplications on smartphones or tablets
  • Secure text messaging with pharmacies on mobile devices
  • Secure e-mail

Ray also said pharmacy patients should have online access to:

  • Their medication histories and profiles
  • Prescription drug benefits
  • Drug supplies and availability
  • Instructions on proper use of medications
  • Information comparing the cost and effectiveness of their prescription drugs

All of those factors help influence medication adherence which leads to better health for patients and better business health for pharmacies.

“Digital resources lead to healthier, more engaged patients overall, and a reduction in the cost of health care,” Ray said.

Leverage Technology and Analytics to Produce Clinical and Business Insights

During her interview with the Pharmacy Podcast Show, Ray offered another valuable business takeaway for retail pharmacies, and that's using technology to generate data-driven insights that can guide improvements in their clinical and financial performance.

A pharmacy's ability to care for patients is enhanced if its pharmacy management system can be integrated with a patient's EHR system, according to Ray. A pharmacy management system with that capability should be able to:

  • Identify at-risk patients who need prescription medications
  • Maintain updated patient medication histories
  • Receive and fill electronically prescribed medications
  • Flag unfilled prescriptions
  • Track adherence rates by pharmacy, provider or patient
  • Exchange patient medication information with other pharmacies and providers
  • Enable pharmacists to counsel patients on medication use

Armed with that actionable data, retail independent pharmacies can become true partners in the overall care of patients, not just the site where patients get prescriptions filled, according to Ray.

“There are many ways technology is helping, and one of the biggest is by helping to improve adherence with patients taking their medication,” she said.

Utilize Technology to Enhance Business Operations and Outcomes

On the business side, meanwhile, technology can help retail independent pharmacies improve operations and financial performance.

For example, technology can replace many manual functions, such as a centralized pill-dispensing solution replacing onsite hand dispensing tasks. Such tech-driven automation reduces operating costs and frees up pharmacists and other staff to engage in other care-related and revenue-generating activities like:

  • Medication reconciliation
  • Comprehensive medication reviews
  • Medication synchronization
  • Medication therapy management
  • Behavioral coaching
  • Adherence programs
  • Smoking cessation programs
  • Flu and other vaccine services
  • General population health management

“One of the key focuses in the industry is the move from fee-for-service to pay-for-performance models,” Ray said. “Pharmacies need to focus on how they can best outperform their competition and which programs will help them drive the best results for their business.”

All of that – improvements in pharmacies' clinical, operational, financial and regulatory compliance performance – can be driven by digital tools and technology adoption, Ray said.

To learn more, listen to the full interview with Ray on the Pharmacy Podcast Show:

Related: Learn about McKesson's Pharmacy Technology and Services

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