Independent Corner: Towncrest Pharmacy Builds Relationships with Patients and Providers through Clinical Services
In this video, Troy Trygstad, Editor in Chief, Pharmacy Times, speaks with Kelly Kent, Director of Clinical Initiatives, Towncrest Pharmacy about the wide array of clinical services her pharmacy provides and how it’s helped Towncrest build relationships with patients and providers.
Troy Trygstad, Editor in Chief, Pharmacy Times : Hey everybody, Troy Trygstad again here with you from Pharmacy Times. I’m here with Kelly Kent, who’s clinical lead here at Towncrest Pharmacy in Iowa City, Iowa, and we’re in the basement right now where there’s a Parata PASS machine and a Parata Perl and a lot of goings on. It’s a smaller building upstairs but it’s fascinating to see all of the things that go on beyond the counter here at Towncrest.
So how long has Towncrest been in existence?
Kelly Kent, Director of Clinical Initatives, Towncrest Pharmacy: Over 50 years, we celebrated our 50-year anniversary a few years ago.
Troy: 50 years? And what kind of clinical services—you’re pretty unique in that you offer a lot of clinical services, right?
Kelly: We do, yeah. We’ve kind of got 5 different areas of the pharmacy, but focusing on the clinical area we do a variety of compliance packaging, we do medication therapy management services (MTM), enhanced MTM, a variety of specific disease state management services, working with our Wellmark patients, of course all of our other Mirixa and Outcomes patients, and that is my full time job.
Troy: And now I notice there’s a pharmacy across the street, behind you, over kitty wampus and you’re kind of in the middle. Why do patients choose to come to this pharmacy?
Kelly: It’s a good question. So, we think they come here because they expect something different here. They know that we’ll take good care of them. We offer a variety of services, we’re independently owned, and I think people like that about our business. They also like that we provide customized care to them too with free delivery service, personalized medication therapy review. A large part of my job that I do is our med synch program—medication synchronization—I spend a lot of time. We have close to 700 patients now in our med synch program and people really like that personalized service that we get with that. So, we’re in Iowa, a lot of people head south for the Winter, so the med synch program kind of helps us time their refills and ensure that they have enough medications for their trips.
Troy: Neat and are most of those based on referrals from friends and families, or other care team members. I mean, 700 is a really large number.
Kelly: Yeah, we do. It comes from a variety of sources. I think our staff is very proactive about seeking out people to enroll in our med sync program. There are so many advantages for patients. It simplifies their life to have everything synchronized, but it also helps from a pharmacy management perspective with inventory control, with managing some of our busy times. So, our staff has definitely bought in with the importance of enrolling people in, and some different approaches to kind of win people over depending on what their needs are.
Because we do have an older population that come and use our pharmacy, we definitely have a lot of family that could call and then through talking with them we can make those referrals. We have a large supportive living community that we provide care for as well, and a lot of the nursing and nursing staff, including Iowa City Hospice, a lot of those nurses come to our med synch program for ease, just to simplify their job too.
Troy: And so, you’re a CPESN pharmacy, right?
Troy: So, you’ve been sort of given the reigns for doing the enhanced services?
Kelly: That has been a lot of…
Troy: And what’s that experience been like so far?
Kelly: It’s been good. Obviously, we’re one of the initial sites to start providing the enhanced MTM services, and it’s been exciting for us to have the opportunity to learn a new platform and to deliver this care to our patients. You know, we already have established relationships with so many of these patients, so it’s been very easy for us to start those conversations and bring patients into the pharmacy. I already have most of them coming in at very predictable times through our medication synchronization program, so it’s been easy to incorporate that into our workflow.
I told Randy that I did one on the run this morning—it was literally on the run, because I was in between 2 different MTM services and this patient came in and I needed to capture him and so we provided everything.
Troy:That’s what’s great about you, the whole system needs to capture them because you’re interacting with them pretty frequently. I’ve noticed we’ve done—we’re on day 6 of 7 of RAGBRAI—we have done over a dozen interviews with pharmacies across the state. You said the magic word just then that’s come up every single time: relationships. So you’ve talked about relationships with patients, tell me about your relationships with other care team members and how it might be different because you do these enhanced services or that you’re a pharmacy that has a clincal lead.
Kelly: So, a variety of different things. We definitely get some referrals from physicians to come to us to maybe to assist with some packaging options, it might start with that. Most recently, we started a collaboration with a functional medicine group in the Iowa City area, and they’re actually referring patients to us for a med check or an MTM program, and then to provide a review back to their staff, so we’re getting some referrals in that way to. With the Iowa City Hospice, with our supportive living staff, those individuals sometimes will call and say we’ve got this patient, maybe we’re not currently providing MTM services for them now, could you come in and do a medication review, and often times that will open us the door for us to provide those at regular intervals.
Troy: And so, we’re in Iowa City, which for those not from Iowa, there’s a very large academic medical center that serves literally the whole states and beyond. What is your radius of catchment for patients, does it go beyond the bubble of academia.
Kelly: Yeah, for sure, because we do have other hospitals nearby. Given that we are on the other side of town, I would say, even though it’s not very far away from the university of Iowa, a lot of our patients do see the smaller hospital and those private practice physicians, so we do get a lot of those individuals. I would say primarily our patients come from Johnson County. We do get some from the surrounding counties too, that doctor in Johnson County. So, we’re able to, through medication synchronization, make their planning and their trips a little more convenient too.
Troy: Give me a clinical win that happened in the last week.
Kelly: So, I think this was really great. We’re working to have some relationships with the University of Iowa and providing them updated medication lists, so I’ve got a contact there that will reach out to us the week prior to patients coming in, for example, to the cardiology clinic. He wants an updated medication list and sometimes he wants some information about their compliance history, so I can provide that back to him, as well as some other questions that I had.
So, with one particular patient, I do have some compliance concerns that I shared, as well as, this individual is a patient of ours through the Wellmark program, and we’ve been meaning to get some updated lab data for them. Just by sharing that this is Wellmark patient that we’re also monitoring these types of things, he provided that right back to me, as well as he benefitted from us giving the compliance information and the frequency of how often he was refilling his medication. It will be wonderful to see—he’ll go to the appointment next week, so then I’ll get a follow up regarding any changes that happened as a result of that.
Troy: So you said Towncrest has been here for 50 years. In order for it to be here another 50 years, what does it need to focus on?
Kelly: I think we definitely need to focus on these patient care services that we’re providing. We need to continue to grow in those niches that we’ve developed and continue to make sure that our pharmacists recognize that we need to be clinicians at all times.