Expanding point-of-care testing from urgent to chronic care

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Expanding point-of-care testing from urgent to chronic care

By Michael Johnsen - 06/28/2018
Cardinal Health significantly augmented its year-old point-of-care testing program at Cardinal Health RBC 2018 with the addition of a new test that covers two chronic care conditions. The new blood test measures both cholesterol and blood glucose, and extends beyond last year’s initial acute care test offerings for flu and strep by expanding into diabetes and heart health.

It’s an opportunity to both provide expanded counseling services and cultivate relationships with nearby prescribers. The new Cardinal Health Point-of-Care Testing Program helps further establish the independent pharmacy operator as a destination center for convenient healthcare services.

“With flu and strep, it was an urgent need. People came in when they were not feeling well,” Jana Bennett, owner of two Medicine Shoppe pharmacies in North Texas, noted. “With the glucose and lipid [screenings], it’s a little different. These are people who are looking to take care of themselves between visits with their prescriber … with those patients we see this as an opportunity to help them with diet and lifestyle changes, or to recommend nutraceuticals they can use to help move their test numbers in a positive direction.”

For independent pharmacy operators, that translates into the possibility for two additional revenue streams: disease state management services and the recommendation of margin-friendly vitamins and supplements on the front end.

Helping to better manage patient’s health and wellness also may lead to fewer doctor’s office visits, though the primary care physicians who worked collaboratively with Bennett when she initially implemented point-of-care testing in her pharmacies are not complaining. Quite the contrary, they have expressed appreciation for the new services.

The reservation doctors had about the point-of-care testing service was the cost for the patient, Bennet noted. However, at the price per test in Bennet’s pharmacy, doctors found that the patient’s pocketbook is far better served at the pharmacy than the physician’s office. “[The doctor] wasn’t protective of her office-visit money, she was protective of the patient and what was best for them,” Bennett said.

In fact, with the availability of a CLIA-waived flu test at her two North Texas Medicine Shoppe pharmacies, this year’s record-setting flu season drove a number of new patients Bennett’s way.

“We had a nurse at a local college that caught wind of our point-of-care testing. When the school had a flu outbreak, she sent us about 15 patients in a matter of three days,” she said. “[These] folks had never been to our pharmacy before. Because of that, we were able to set up a meeting with [the college nurse] the following week to share with her the other services we could offer. She’s a nurse practitioner, and we actually formed a new partnership just because we were offering point-of-care testing.”

The Cardinal Health Point-of-Care Testing Program continues to represent a turnkey solution that includes everything from protocols, collaborative practice agreements and continuing education to the actual point-of-care tests and the marketing materials, such as in-store posters, to promote the new service.

“You’ve got to market,” Bennett said, and nothing is quite as compelling as a personal appeal through social media. Bennett gained a significant amount of awareness through a recent Facebook video on the new cholesterol and blood glucose test that received more than 800 views. In contrast, before that video, Bennett’s Facebook posts typically generated some 20 impressions. “People watch videos; they don’t pay attention to text,” Bennett said.

In the coming year, Bennett plans to target nearby large employers and school systems to raise awareness of the availability of point-of-care testing. “For those groups, if they have flu or strep outbreaks, it can really hamper their operations,” Bennett reasoned. Plus, those large employers and school systems will be interested in the chronic care services as it promotes a healthier employee base.

For those pharmacy operators on the fence regarding point-of-care testing, Bennett suggested they incorporate the service sooner rather than later. “Like a lot of initiatives in pharmacy, you have to be willing to say ‘Yes,’ and see where it leads,” she said. “You have to be open-minded and just go for it.”

Click here to learn more about how this service can help you position your pharmacy as a health-and-wellness destination. If you’re attending Cardinal Health RBC 2018, you can visit the Patient Care Solutions booth on the show floor.