Beyond the bench

Meet the pharmacy technology and automation companies that enable pharmacists to expand their clinical roles.
Sandra Levy
Senior Editor
Levy

Never have pharmacists had to juggle so many clinical responsibilities. From filling an increased volume of prescriptions to counseling patients, the role of pharmacies has never been more crucial. With only so many hours in the day, pharmacies are relying on automation and technology companies to lighten pharmacists’ workload and boost efficiencies so they can meet patients’ needs.

[Read more: REX Awards 2023: Technology and Automation]

Drug Store News asked executives from pharmacy technology and automation companies what innovative solutions they are offering to help pharmacies successfully multitask. Their answers demonstrate their unstoppable verve in providing new solutions.

[Read more: 2023 Surescripts White Coat Award recognizes 11 healthcare industry leaders]

drfirst
drfirst

DrFirst

Rockville, Md.-based DrFirst’s intelligent medication management solutions have been a mainstay in health care, including community pharmacy and hospitals for more than 20 years.

“Today, our primary solution for pharmacy is clinical-grade artificial intelligence that safely infers missing data and translates between systems, saving pharmacy staff time and reducing the chance of errors,” said David Sellars, principal of product innovations at DrFirst. “Our patented AI, serving as a clinical co-pilot, improves the quality of more than 24 million medication records across the United States and Canada every day.”

DrFirst’s SmartPharmacy solutions can optimize clinical data for pharmacy systems to improve efficiency and safety by ensuring more complete e-prescriptions by translating more than 90% of free-text sigs into dose, dose unit, route and frequency values; converting NDCs in prescriptions  to the drugs on your shelves; and integrating nearly all free-text allergy information from prescribers’ EHRs as coded allergies in your system.

Noting that DrFirst’s SmartPharmacy serves as augmented intelligence to improve workflow efficiency and accuracy in partnership with clinicians, who review and confirm the data, Sellars said, “With augmented intelligence, people are always the final part of the equation.”

In the future, Sellars expects to see more impact from AI on interoperability and new approaches to sharing clinical information, especially among physicians and pharmacists.

“Many patients assume that their pharmacist can access their diagnosis and full medication history or that doctors always see if patients pick up their prescriptions” Sellars explained. “It is past time that pharmacists and doctors can exchange clinical data in ways that allow them to make more informed care decisions. Patients also would benefit from technology that makes it smoother to enroll in programs for drugs in specialty or REMS programs. This would help patients start their therapy and relieve pharmacies from making calls to help facilitate it.”

enliven
enliven

EnlivenHealth

Jason Ausili, head of pharmacy transformation at Fort Worth, Texas-based EnlivenHealth, said that as a pharmacy software solution provider, it is transforming the business and practice of pharmacy. “A key part of that transformation is clinical service expansion. Using solutions from EnlivenHealth, a pharmacy can free up both the time and the resources needed to be a clinical care powerhouse for their communities,” Ausili said.

To that end, Amplicare Clinical Solution from EnlivenHealth automates and streamlines many of the administrative tasks associated with clinical care, which leaves more time for pharmacists to focus on their patients. “It allows you to grow in a scalable fashion, driving a seamless, end-to- end clinical workflow that begins with identifying patient opportunities and provides automated campaigning and outreach that culminates in a personalized scheduling experience,” Ausili said. 

“Once the patient comes in for their appointment, the solution guides the clinical documentation, medical billing and vaccine registry reporting processes. Amplicare Clinical Solution allows you to start small and drive scalable clinical revenue growth at the pace of your business.”

Another innovation is EnlivenHealth’s Personalized IVR, which takes automated phone answering to the next level by recognizing patients’ phone numbers when they call and offering tailored options, including refilling prescriptions without needing to locate or remember prescription numbers. It also prevents distractions from inbound calls that contribute to medication errors.

Ausili also explained that when you batch together all of a patient’s refills and dispense them on the same day each month, you can optimize the time your staff spends filling those prescriptions and better prioritize their workflows. Medication synchronization streamlines your dispensing workflow and makes the prescription center of your pharmacy as efficient as it can be. “That level of predictability also allows you to do things like verify insurance coverage, inventory and active refills, long before the patient is standing at the counter waiting,” Ausili said.

If that weren’t enough, EnlivenHealth offers: 
 

  • Digital Medication Information Delivery, which transforms the paper-based drug monograph into a digital patient experience; 
  • MyDataMart, which reviews your pharmacy data and provides actionable insights to help you boost pharmacy profits, improve medication adherence and increase pharmacy  efficiency; and
  • Econcile, which provides pharmacists with two options for automating their reconciliation efforts.
flavorx
flavorx

FLAVORx

FLAVORx, based in Columbia, Md., specializes in helping pharmacies provide optimal pediatric patient care. Stuart Amos, CEO of FLAVORx, pointed out that letting children choose the taste of their medicine is one of the best ways pharmacists can improve pediatric outcomes.

“Nearly 40,000 pharmacies carry the FLAVORx program,” Amos said. “Collectively those pharmacies have flavored an estimated 250 million children’s medications since we first came to market 28 years ago.”

The FLAVORx Auto makes the process of flavoring effortless by adding precise amounts of flavor automatically during reconstitution.

“This totally eliminates the time  it takes to personalize the taste of children’s liquid medicine, which gives the pharmacy team the confidence to offer the service no matter their workload,” Amos said.

FLAVORx Auto also automates water dispensing for reconstitution. “With our machines, scan the barcode, select the flavor, press dispense and in 15 seconds that medication is reconstituted, flavored and ready to go out the door,” Amos said.

“Because we are able to communicate with the machines remotely, we can send critical updates in real-time,” said Amos. “If a new NDC gets added to our reconstitution and flavoring database, it is instantly available to dispense and flavor with the Auto.”

Amos predicts that in the future retailers will be able to build flavor selection into their own apps or POS terminals, so the pharmacy staff doesn’t have to wait on a flavor decision at the counter.

ia
ia

iA

Reed Richardson, senior vice president of marketing at iA said that the Johnson City, N.Y.-based company has more than 30 years of experience providing an integrated platform of capabilities to support centralized and community pharmacy fulfillment.
                            
“iA provides a comprehensive platform that enables scalable centralized and community pharmacy fulfillment solutions through our advanced robotics and leading-edge, enterprise software, NEXiA,” said Richardson, adding, “Our platform helps run the prescription fulfillment process from prescription acceptance to delivery, supporting dynamic design flexibility to service pharmacies in a variety of volumes and settings. Our solutions improve workflow and increase efficiency while enabling more time for pharmacists to focus on their patients.”

Lastly, Richardson is optimistic about the future. “Innovation isn’t just a concept for us—it’s a mindset that drives us to venture into the unknown and challenge the status quo. We’re a technology-driven company, passionate about moving the industry forward at an accelerated pace. That extends to our partners in technology, packaging and systems who spark innovation and inspire us to bring new ideas for accelerating all aspects of pharmacy fulfillment.”    

knapp
knapp

KNAPP

Brian Sullivan, principal-pharmacy solutions North America, said that Kennesaw, Ga.-based KNAPP provides solutions that free up the pharmacists for greater patient care in two main ways: KNAPP’s centralized pharmacies take the task of filling and verifying prescriptions out of the retail pharmacy, leaving valuable time for the pharmacist and the technician to improve patient care, while KNAPP’s in-store pharmacy automation systems reduce the steps required to handle incoming inventory, address will call orders, and manage stock bottles, RTS and expired medications.

“This reduces the cost to fill and more importantly opens up time for the technicians to improve patient care. The systems also take up less space in the pharmacy, opening up additional space for consultation rooms,” Sullivan said.

Additionally, KNAPP’s fully automated 24-7 prescription dispensing system with Telepharmacy, Meth Check and automated labeling is expanding the ability of the pharmacy to meet patient needs with less resources. It also provides support for more remote populations for immediate care.

“At KNAPP, we see the glass more than half full. This is a very dynamic time that is being driven, in some cases by negative forces,” Sullivan said. “That said, the end result looks really fantastic to us: Greater patient care, more valuable use of pharmacist and pharmacy technician time, a better patient experience and lower cost to dispense are all part of the future that we are playing in. It is a bit bumpy right now, but the end result really looks like a better pharmacy experience for everyone.”

omnisys
omnisys

OmniSYS, XiFin Pharmacy Solutions

OmniSYS, XiFin Pharmacy Solutions in Dallas specializes in providing pharmacies with purpose-built solutions that enhance patient access and engagement while streamlining clinical encounters, simplifying claim processing and maximizing reimbursement.

“Designed by pharmacists for pharmacists, OmniSYS’s clinical workflow and documentation solution is the industry’s premier cloud- based electronic health record for pharmacy, bringing together key clinical, medical and health information into a longitudinal patient record,” said David Pope, chief pharmacy officer at XiFin.

Powered by an intelligent data engine and a set of callable services, it alerts pharmacists to clinical opportunities, such as immunizations and other services that can improve patient health outcomes. Built on a scalable and interoperable technology platform, the OmniSYS EHR guides pharmacists through workflows and documentation for every aspect of clinical encounters and automates billing through its medical billing module.

Connected to Medicare, Medicaid and hundreds of commercial payors, OmniSYS’s medical billing provides a real-time eligibility check to ensure pharmacies get reimbursed for payor-compliant claims properly and quickly.

“With daily reimbursement tracking, robust analytics reporting, denial management and audit support, this billing solution helps provide collection rates of up to 99%,” Pope said. “As pharmacies embrace the delivery of clinical services, claim processing and reimbursement become more complex, we see forward-thinking pharmacy leaders investing in end-to-end revenue cycle management solutions and services.”

OmniSYS also empowers pharmacies to provide the convenient, personalized care expected from consumers. By using its modern patient engagement solution, OmniSYS leverages prescribed therapy insights to target patients with messages to increase medication adherence, improve health and enhance loyalty.

“The software allows pharmacies to personalize patient messages to promote greater engagement. Integrated with more than 50 pharmacy management systems, our patient engagement software provides a high level of personalization and relevance resulting in messages being better received, patients becoming more engaged and therefore more likely to take positive steps toward better health,” Pope said.

surecost
surecost

SureCost

St. Conway, N.H.-based SureCost specializes in helping pharmacists free up time and money to provide optimal patient care through its Purchasing and Inventory Management Software.

“With the pharmacy’s ability to control vendor relationships, they can choose not only their primary vendor but also secondary vendors, expanding their visibility of better prices in the market,” said Nathan Taylor, vice president of sales and business development.

SureCost’s product groups provide a consolidated view of all purchasing options for each item, making it easier for pharmacies to compare therapeutic equivalent options. This customizable feature factors in accurate costs, including monthly rebates, ensuring transparency in pricing.

In addition, SureCost Purchase Manager recommends purchasing options based on the pharmacy’s goals, purchasing volume and rules, aligning purchasing with the pharmacy’s vendor compliance and financial objectives.

SureCost’s Inventory Manager is another tool to optimize pharmacy operations and allocate more resources to patient care. “Pharmacies have the potential in reducing their inventory by 10-20% through improved forecasting and the elimination of excessive stock,” Taylor said.

This is achieved through perpetual inventory management, which takes into account physical stock, customer orders, inventory transfers and purchase orders. SureCost also automates replenishment orders based on data and pharmacy-specific rules. The system sets min/max inventory values based on usage and days-supply requirements, reducing excess inventory.

Additionally, SureCost’s mobile app adds convenience by capturing DSCSA mandated data when scanning 2D barcodes during product receipt, immediately flagging any discrepancies for quarantine. The software also promotes accountability, allowing pharmacies to manage DSCSA data from all vendors and providing a single interface for all required product data and reports.

surescripts
surescripts

Surescripts

Arlington, Va.-based Surescripts E-Prescribing revolutionized how care clinicians shared information more than two decades ago—making prescribing safer, faster and connecting pharmacists with prescribers like never before. “Now, around 60,000 pharmacies are connected to the Surescripts network with more than 2.34 billion e-prescriptions filled using this technology in 2022 alone,” said Meg Murphy, pharmacy and regulatory affairs manager.

Among the company’s innovations: Surescripts Real- Time Prescription Benefit technology is helping to address prescription cost challenges by connecting pharmacists to patient-specific prescription cost and prior authorization information. Surescripts Specialty Medications Gateway is connecting pharmacists and their staff with the patient information they need from the Electronic Health Record automatically, saving time and helping patients start their medication therapy sooner.

Staywell Pharmacy’s Sanjay Sheshadri, shared that before using the Surecripts technology, it might take 10-15 minutes on each drug trying to identify a more affordable alternative but “we would only learn how much a medication was going to cost after a prior authorization was approved. A patient would have to wait three to four business days only to find out a particular medication wasn’t going to work. Now with the use of Real-Time Prescription Benefit we know right away.”

“Surescripts’ technology is simplifying clinical information sharing, bringing pharmacists the information they need within their existing workflows and eliminating time-consuming phone calls and faxes, so they can focus on caring for their patients,” Murphy said, adding, “Creating efficiencies and connecting pharmacists with physicians to strengthen patient care teams is becoming ever-more critical and tools like Surescripts Clinical Direct Messaging will help bridge gaps in care by allowing clinicians to reliably send and receive information—such as immunization records— across multiple care collaboration scenarios within their existing workflows.”

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