How can pharmacy fulfillment help pharmacies create opportunities to realize the benefits of expanding patient care services?
That was the topic of a webinar held Thursday by Drug Store News, presented by iA, which featured Alecia Lashier, chief automation officer of the organization.
Lashier noted that central fill services have been an important part of pharmacy for quite some time, and that these services have been primarily provided by a small subset of those serving the industry, but over the past 10 years, this model has bees shifting from a niche business model to being a competitive need.
"With 9 in 10 Americans living within five miles of a pharmacy, the accessibility and familiarity with pharmacists makes it clear there is a unique opportunity for pharmacists to practice at the level they are trained to do," Lashier said.
Pointing out that since the pandemic began, pharmacists have delivered over 141 million doses of COVID vaccines, Lashier said, "That’s over 35% of the total vaccines given. In many cases, this task was performed in addition to pharmacists' previous responsibilities. But even before the pandemic, the demand for change on the business side of pharmacy was already high."
When it comes to consumer and patient choice, Lashier said that consumers enjoy the convenience of an online experience. "They want to be able to shop when they want to shop. They want their purchases delivered when and where it makes sense and for their lifestyles, and they want their updates on the status of those deliveries in real time. This is no different for prescriptions and possibly is even more important."
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Lashier also said that responsibility of care is the strongest driver in front of us. "The WHO states that a patient’s adherence to their medication regimen may be more impactful on their medical outcomes than the specific treatment itself. Nonadherence accounts for up to 25% of hospitalizations each year. We know that pharmacy can help improve adherence in a variety of ways, but with shrinking margins and limited time, it’s difficult to provide these services."
It was also explained how a fulfillment strategy is unique. "The services provided, the networks, covered and the delivery options chosen will depend on strategic objectives of each business," she said. "We see pharmacies looking at or setting a goal of moving about 40 to 60% of their maintenance medications and the resulting inventory out of the end pharmacy. Central fill locations are generally distributed optimizing the delivery network of the coverage area of the business. We see site volumes vary greatly with prescription volumes starting at 4,000 prescriptions a shift to over 50,000 scripts and beyond. Distribution of the completed work is completed through a courier network, through the pharmacy’s wholesale delivery network, or through the mail."
Finally, Lashier said that once a central fill model is adopted, the fulfillment strategy is rounded out by adding specialty services, such as pouch packaging and providing add on options, such as OTC purchases, medical supply distribution, or customized packaging.
The full webinar can be viewed on-demand here.