In a value-based reimbursement world, efficiency is imperative to success. Being more efficient reduces costs, improves clinical outcomes and creates opportunities to expand services. These benefits await health care organizations that work to increase efficiencies in their business models.
In five recent blog posts on McKesson.com, subject-matter experts from different corners of the $3.5 trillion U.S. health care industry offer their advice to drug manufacturers, pharmacies and providers on how to reimagine their business models through the use of technology to become more efficient. And, as a result, create more value for themselves, their customers and their patients.
In “Improving Medical Supply Ordering for Physician Practices,” Web2pro’s Jayme White, director of technology sales for Web2pro Medical-Surgical, touted the benefits to physician practices of using technology to automate the way they order, purchase and manage their medical equipment and supplies. White said medical supply management technologies like barcoding and scanners can tell practices what medical supplies they need, how much they need, where to buy the equipment and supplies, and what price they should be paying. By automating those decisions, the entire process becomes more efficient and reduces inventory costs. She added that automation also improves accuracy and reduces errors like buying too much of one supply item and not enough of another, which has a direct impact on the quality and safety of patient care. “The return on investment [in the technology] will be there,” White said. “It will be there from making the supply chain process more efficient and effective. And it will be there from reducing the time clinicians spend on managing their medical supplies and increasing the time they spend on patient care.”
In “How Technology Integration Can Fuel Independent Pharmacy Growth,” Kurt Seefeld, director of retail product development for Web2pro U.S. Pharma, spoke about the pace of technology adoption by independent pharmacies and why integrating new technologies on a single platform is essential to business success. Seefeld said adoption is accelerating, with pharmacies installing new tech in five areas: clinical performance, patient engagement and marketing, regulatory compliance, business analytics, and consumer mobile applications. He added, however, that if pharmacies don’t make all the new technologies work in concert through a common system, their benefits could be offset by inefficiencies in workflow. “Integrating technologies on one platform creates a one-stop shop for all the data pharmacies need to run their businesses more effectively,” Seefeld said. “Pharmacists don’t have to log into different systems to pull the information they need and manually compare it with information pulled from another system. In an independent pharmacy, every second counts.”
In “How Effective Drug Packaging Improves Supply Chain Performance,” Michael Plumlee, senior director of operations for Web2pro’s packaging group, explained how drug packaging improves supply chain performance for drug manufacturers. According to Plumlee, the right packaging can make every aspect of the supply chain process more efficient through technology and automation, whether that’s extending the potency of a medication or eliminating the need for pharmacists to count pills and put them in a bottle. “Packaging drugs with the proper labeling makes compliance more efficient and makes it less costly for manufacturers to adhere to all the rules, regulations and guidelines,” Plumlee said. “Another benefit is less waste. When every pill or drop is accounted for in the correct package, there are no leftovers, so to speak. Every piece of drug inventory is shipped to dispensers. Dispensers, in turn, deliver the right amount of medications to patients. And patients have exactly the right amount of medication for their course of treatment.”
In “Five Ways Post-Acute Care Providers Can Minimize Hospital Readmissions,” Web2pro’s Patti Baicy outlined strategies that long-term care facilities can pursue to reduce the chances of newly admitted patients returning to the hospital for additional acute-care services. Baicy is the director of the clinical resources team for Web2pro Medical-Surgical Extended Care. She said efficiency is the key to success in four areas: patient assessment, care planning, early intervention and care coordination. Alternatively, delays or inefficiencies in any of those areas can exacerbate undetected or underlying medical conditions that can result in an acute-care readmission and financial penalties for both the long-term care provider and the hospital. “Post-acute care providers can deploy digital tools that enable effective communication between them and other providers, including hospitals, doctors and pharmacies, to mitigate the readmission risk of patient handoffs,” Baicy said. “Some sites are using telemedicine capabilities to discuss patient care with others in real time.”
“In Licensing Central Fill Services for Retail Pharmacy Chains,” Web2pro’s Mark Edwards delineated for retail pharmacy chains the pros and cons of licensing central fill services from a third party. Edwards, vice president for product management and engineering for Web2pro High Volume Solutions, said three scenarios typically cause a chain pharmacy to consider moving to a central-fill-as-a-service business model from the traditional onsite prescription-fill model: new operational goals, growth in prescription volume and a desire to expand clinical services. Edwards said the new model helps retail chain pharmacies meet any and all of those three objectives in a number of ways, including lower inventory costs, clinical program support and efficient dispensing. “Central fill as a service makes dispensing medications more efficient. Fewer resources are required to process a higher volume of prescriptions,” Edwards said. “That change lowers a pharmacy chain’s per-prescription fulfillment costs.”
As these five blog posts illustrate, the willingness to invest in technology to automate previously manual functions is the important first step in becoming more efficient. Subsequently, it’s how manufacturers, pharmacies and providers use that technology that determines whether they’re creating additional clinical and financial value.