Improving lives — and business — with adherence
Christian Tadrus, PharmD, who has been a pharmacist at Sam’s Health Mart Pharmacies in Moberly, Mo., since 1997, is a believer in using patient adherence strategies to help boost pharmacy operations. And with the implementation of health reform, adherence will be a key differentiator between pharmacies — a measurable indicator of quality of care.
Tadrus’ pharmacies are members of McKesson’s Sponsored Clinical Services pharmacy network and participate in a number of SCS adherence support programs, including its Pharmacy Intervention Program, in which pharmacists provide behavioral coaching to patients, and StudyLink, which provides pharmacies and patients with the opportunity to participate in local clinical studies.
There’s been much written recently about adherence and its $290 billion drag on healthcare costs. That’s at the macro level. Tadrus helps bring it home at the micro level, in the local communities where Health Mart owners like him live and work. “We are making more and more contact with the patient personally to review how their medications are working for them or if there have been any changes in the last month,” Tadrus told DSN. “We’re looking through our database to see where people are missing refills, just to make sure that they haven’t accidentally fallen off the map and forgotten to order something.”
And, at the end of the day, there is money in it. Improving adherence in one patient generally leads to additional fills and other purchases, and can result in a $750 lift in revenue per patient per year in some cases, Tadrus said.
“When you’re connected to the patient, in addition to improving care, you’re going to discover opportunities to drive revenue almost immediately,” Tadrus said. “I might pick up four to five scripts per month out of that visit….”
Pharmacy ownership lures new operators
One of Health Mart’s newest owners is Yang Xiong, who opened Minneapolis’ Northside Community Health Mart Pharmacy in July. A 2011 graduate of the College of Pharmacy at the University of Minnesota, Xiong spent his first years working for two national chains. That experience led him to want to operate his own pharmacy and have a more direct impact on his patients.
Xiong serves a community that is 90% of Hmong descent — an Asian ethnic group from the mountainous regions of China, Vietnam, Laos and Thailand. Xiong speaks a total of four languages, a strong point of difference.
“A lot of Hmong patients are skeptical of Western medications that come in a tablet or capsule version,” he told DSN. “I try to bridge that gap.”
Looking forward, Xiong wants to get into diabetes counseling. “There’s a growing population [among the] Hmong population that have caught up to Western chronic diseases — diabetes, high cholesterol and hypertension.”
Technology and the independent operator
For Tom Davis, co-owner of Kiowa Health Mart Pharmacy, in Eads, Colo., technology has always been critical to the operation. “We put in our first pharmacy system in 1982. At the time, we may have been one of the first systems in Colorado, to be honest,” Davis told DSN.
Davis, a 38-year pharmacy veteran — 25 years with Health Mart — essentially organizes technology into 1-of-3 buckets:
- Technology that makes it easier for the patient — today, there are eight different ways for a prescription to reach his store, versus just two, when he first opened in 1982;
- Technology that improves store operations — Davis uses McKesson’s Reimbursement Advantage program to stay compliant with Medicare and PBM requirements, and recently added PatientLink, which provides patient information on all medications and helps boost adherence; and
- Technology that improves profits — Davis puts a lot of focus on driving front-end profitability. He uses sales reports generated by department, which he can compare against purchase orders in McKesson Connect to better manage front-end profitability per sq. ft. — much like the big chains do.