Q&A: Doyle Jensen on central fill’s potential for community pharmacists

The demands placed on pharmacists’ time have only increased as the industry works to deliver within a fee-for-service model, and among the companies looking to help pharmacists maximize their time through technology is Innovation, maker of the PharmAssist robot and solutions. Drug Store News caught up with Innovation VP global business development Doyle Jensen to discuss the company’s role in enabling community pharmacists to better serve patients through technology.

Drug Store News: With consumers taking greater control of their own health, how is your company helping community pharmacists use technology to better engage patients, improve the patient experience in pharmacy and/or improve communication with patients?

DOYLE JENSEN: Our central fill/mail order technologies help free up in-store pharmacists and other pharmacy staff from their prescription fulfillment responsibilities by centralizing up to 50% to 60% of the store’s prescription volume at an offsite facility. By removing these prescriptions from the store’s daily grind, pharmacists and technicians have more time to engage patients and deliver the various services patients now expect.

DSN: As pharmacists work to achieve provider status and continue to play a greater role in healthcare delivery, how is your company enabling community pharmacists to practice at the top of their license?

DJ: The question I continually ask our pharmacy partners is, “Are you currently utilizing your pharmacists in an appropriate role for their professional background?”

We typically hear that they are not. Most of their pharmacists are extremely busy performing tasks that would be better dealt with by other staff members. Today, it’s common to only see the pharmacist from afar tethered to a PC and a phone, verifying prescriptions at the same time. If pharmacies truly want to make an impact on patient care and take on a greater role in healthcare delivery, they need to redeploy their pharmacists.

Technology really is the answer. Central fill is the most efficient use and has the best ROI of capital investment. Retail-deployed (in-store) technology can have an impact, but is utilized on average less than 20% of the time. Additionally, newer technologies that can “virtualize” the required pharmacist verifications, can now free pharmacists from the back counter and enable them to be upfront with patients.

DSN: How is your company helping community pharmacies drive greater efficiency in their business whether in terms of inventory management, optimizing workflow, or keeping ahead of reimbursement challenges, etc.?

DJ: The greatest impact we make is on optimizing a pharmacy’s workflow. The production of prescriptions can be done more safely and much more efficiently at a centralized facility using our central fill/mail order technologies. Removing potentially 50%-plus of the day-to-day prescription production provides immediate relief at the store level and frees up staffs to provide patient facing care.