Regardless of industry segment, senior health care executives explored strategies for improving both clinical and financial performance in 2017. From adopting digital tools to engage patients to enrolling cancer patients in promising new clinical trials, executives searched for new opportunities to improve outcomes and reduce costs. That’s the big takeaway from the 10 most read blog posts on McKesson.com in 2017. Here is this year’s top 10:

1. How Independent Pharmacies Can Manage Their DIR Fees

This blog post discussed the impact that direct and indirect remuneration (DIR) fees have on independent pharmacies’ financial performance. Pharmacies pay DIR fees to health plans and pharmacy benefits managers (PBMs) to compensate those plans and PBMs for their share of any discounts and rebates that drug manufacturers give to pharmacies. Valerie Fortin, senior director of PBM relations for McKesson AccessHealth, suggested a number of steps pharmacies could take to mitigate the potential hit on their balance sheets. “Pharmacies must know how they’re being measured and do what’s necessary to maximize their performance to minimize their DIR fees,” Fortin said.

2. Improving Medical Supply Ordering for Physician Practices

Physician practices need to get their drug spend under control to reduce their operating costs. This blog post by Jayme White, director of technology sales for McKesson Medical-Surgical, told them how. White outlined four ways practices could use technology to improve their medical supply management processes: automate medical supply assessment, consolidate medical supply procurement, utilize online management of medical supply receiving, and adopt electronic medical supply order reconciliation. “By using a single portal for medical supply ordering, a practice can manage the procurement to payment process more effectively,” White said.

3. Connecting Pharmaceutical Distribution and Supply Chain Management

The benefits to retail and hospital pharmacies of optimizing their drug distribution processes were the subjects of this blog post featuring the expertise of Brent Wunderlich, senior director, engineering and analytics at McKesson U.S. Pharma. He said rising prices, lagging reimbursement rates and manufacturer consolidation are prompting retail and hospital pharmacies to mine their drug distribution processes for revenue opportunities and cost-saving efficiencies. Minimizing drug inventories, using online platforms to order pharmaceutical products and taking advantage of customized drug packaging are tactics that can drive improved distribution performance.

4. Lessons from Canadian Independent Pharmacies on Data-Driven Innovation

Independent pharmacies in Canada are using data to improve the performance of their clinical services and business operations. As part of the process, they are building stronger, more personal relationships with patients and positioning their small businesses to effectively compete in the future with pharmacy chains, big-box stores and online retailers. That’s according to Rick Brennan, senior vice president of the retail banner group for McKesson Canada, and author of this blog post. Brennan described how Canadian pharmacies are using data to improve workflow, pricing, front-end sales, drug inventory and clinical services. “It’s a journey independent pharmacies in the U.S. can follow to create value for patients and business value for themselves,” he said.

5. The Value of Medication Synchronization to Independent Pharmacies

A clinical program that independent pharmacies should consider is medication synchronization, according to McKesson pharmacy experts in this blog post. The four top benefits to the pharmacy are: increasing revenue; creating operational efficiencies; building stronger relationships with patients, prescribers and payers; and improving clinical performance. The experts identified six key considerations pharmacies should make before launching a med sync program, including: defining program goals and objectives; training pharmacy staff; and targeting patients who could benefit most from med sync.

6. Five Steps for Independent Pharmacies to Start a Vaccine Program

Reimbursement pressure is prompting independent pharmacies to seek new revenue opportunities. One that offers a number of clinical and business benefits is a vaccine program, according to Callie Barr, associate program manager for McKesson Retail Pharmacy Product Development. In addition to new revenue from administering routine and seasonal vaccines, such programs support other chronic disease management pharmacy services, Barr said in this blog post. One key to success is seamlessly integrating vaccine services into the pharmacy’s workflow. “Pharmacies should assign the most appropriate person to perform each (administrative) task, leaving the pharmacist to administer the vaccine,” Barr said.

7. Maximizing Immunotherapy Clinical Trials for Community Oncologists

A strategy that specialty practices can pursue to improve their clinical performance was the subject of this blog post by Michael Seiden, M.D., chief medical officer for The US Oncology Network and McKesson Specialty Health. Dr. Seiden urged specialty practices, specifically community-based oncology practices, to get more involved with clinical trials for new immunotherapy drugs to fight cancer. Community oncology practices are the ideal clinical trial sites for a number of reasons, including the fact that they care for a high volume of patients diagnosed with the most common types of cancer targeted by the immunotherapy drugs under development. “It makes clinical and business sense,” Seiden said.

8. Optimizing Data Analytics for Oncology Practice Success

Specialty practices can use technology to improve their clinical and operational performance. That was the message from this blog post, which featured an interview with Dan Lodder, vice president and general manager for technology solutions at McKesson Specialty Health. The technology in question was big data, or advanced analytics. Lodder said one of the best uses of advanced analytics by practices is converting unstructured data in ancillary documents like physician notes, pathology reports and laboratory test results into information that physicians can use at the point of care to make better clinical decisions for patients.

9. Five Ways Post-Acute Care Providers Can Minimize Hospital Readmissions

Running CLIA-waived lab tests is one way post-acute care providers can reduce the chances that a new patient will be readmitted to the hospital within 30 days. That important clinical guidance was offered in this blog post by Patti Baicy, director of the clinical resources team for McKesson Medical-Surgical Extended Care. Post-acute providers with lab testing capabilities can run urinalyses to check for infections, blood tests to check glucose levels and blood tests for complete blood counts and metabolic panels. “These sites can get test results quickly and make treatment decisions at the point of care, rather than waiting for test results to come back from an offsite lab,” Baicy said.

10. Leveraging Medication Therapy Management for Independent Pharmacies

Medication therapy management increasingly is being considered as an effective tactic for independent pharmacies to grow their business, according to McKesson pharmacy experts in this blog post. The challenge for independent pharmacies is how to add medication therapy management as a clinical service in an efficient and effective manner to produce the best results. The experts shared advice on integrating medication therapy management services into the pharmacy workflow; tactics to drive comprehensive medication review efficiencies; and best practices for medication therapy management success from other independent pharmacies.

McKesson

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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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