Making medication synchronization a core tenet of a pharmacy’s business can lead to success, 2 presenters told conference attendees, during a session at the National Community Pharmacists Association (NCPA) 2019 Annual Convention in San Diego, California.

In the presentation “Adherence Optimization: Targeting Strategies, Pharmacy VIPs, and Payer Programs,” Carlie Traylor, PharmD, the NCPA’s associate director of strategic initiatives, said that med synch programs offer benefits for patients, such as improved outcomes, and a stronger relationship with the pharmacist and prescriber, and benefits for pharmacies, such as decreased inventory, and improved workflow.

Traylor discussed barriers to success, including cost to the patient, cost to the pharmacy, and leadership.

The remedies include submission of clarification codes 47 and 48; pairing other billable services at pickup, such as medication therapy management; and selecting the right person for the job, respectively, she said.

“Don’t be afraid to make a change” in terms of leadership, Traylor said.

The benefits of appointment-based medication sync programs are seen when a pharmacy is filling 40% of its daily prescriptions through an adherence program, she said.

But in order to make med sync programs successful, pharmacies need a critical mass of patients, and the way to do that is to target the most important patients.

“Medication adherence programs work. Any patients involved in them benefit,” Traylor said.

But pharmacists can get “killed” by the direct and indirect renumeration fees, she said, so “when you are trying to enroll more patients in your program, start from the top down.”

The Pharmacy Quality Alliance developed star ratings to develop the quality of Medicare Part D insurance plans, and 5 will be included in the ones for 2020. Three are related to medication adherence for cholesterol, diabetes, and hypertension.

A patient can miss 6 days in a 30-day supply of medications and still be considered adherent.

When strategically enrolling patients into the pharmacy, start with patients who are enrolled in Medicare Part D plans that assess the individual pharmacy’s performance on adherence measures, Traylor said.

Understanding the pharmacy software provider, and how you to identify these patients is vital, she said.

It is important to set goals for getting patients into medication sync programs, and provide frequent check-ins, Traylor said.

In his part of the presentation, Dared Price, PharmD, president of Price Pharmacies Inc, said that adherence programs allow pharmacies to grow without adding employees.

These programs are important, because lack of adherence causes more than 100,000 deaths annually in the United States, compared to about 80,000 from the flu, he said, citing data from the American College of Cardiology.

Med packaging and sync can set a pharmacy apart, Price said.

Market to doctor’s offices, as “they love to see packaging,” he added.

“Get in there and show them what you have,” Price said.

And during the Med D enrollment process, ask about adherence, he said.

Vendors will help enroll pharmacies in a med sync program or help run the program, Price said.

He recommended that pharmacy owners assign an employee to champion the program. It is also important to get employee buy-in by creating incentives and keeping a scoreboard of wins.

“One of the most frustrating things in the first year of ownership was that people didn’t care as much as I cared. This is a way to make them care,” Price said, adding that weekly meetings and holding people accountable are critical.

Technology is important, as is training, even at the clerk level, he said, though he cautioned that pharmacies should ramp up the programs slowly.

“One of our pitfalls is we grew our med sync program very quickly. If you have 1 technician calling 300 patients a month, you’re going to wear them out; you don’t want to overwhelm your employees,” Price said.

But, his pharmacy’s med sync program “freed up so much of our time and allowed us to do so many more things than we ever imagined,” he said.
Price’s program has grown to 1200 patients from 500 in March 2018. Volume has increased by 15% in the past year, and margins also rose.

More prescriptions were filled with the same number of staff employees, and employee morale has never been higher, he said.


Reference

Price, D, Traylor C. Adherence Optimization: Targeting Strategies, Pharmacy VIPs, and Payer Programs. Presented at: National Community Pharmacists Association (NCPA) 2019 Annual Convention; San Diego, California; October 26, 2019.