PHARMACY

Expanding tech offerings

BY Jim Frederick

From large-scale, high-volume processors linked with data management software and video-enabled prescription verification systems to “cobots’’ that require a minimal amount of countertop space, a new generation of dispensing tools is allowing pharmacies to shift more of the workload to technicians and central-fill sites so pharmacists can focus on patient interventions and clinical services. Also gaining in popularity are automated unit-dose or multi-dose packaging systems that can improve medication adherence by customizing prescription fills to a patient’s daily drug regimen. The following is a quick look at recent product developments.

Innovation has enhanced its PharmASSIST Symphony for high volume applications. The system now gives pharmacists “real-time digital images of canister replenishment,” including a more streamlined process for tailoring specific orders to specific pharmacies and a “customer-specific dashboard” that provides pharmacies with “full transparency into all system, user and fulfillment activity,” according to Innovation. This fall, Innovation also is partnering with Binghamton University to provide advanced pharmacy practice experience to students.

QS/1’s NRx Pharmacy Management System supports pharmacies’ efforts to shift patients to a once-monthly medication synchronization program, and its InstantFill feature “automatically queues eligible Interactive Voice Response and web refills, prints labels and sends them to an automated-dispensing system for filling,” according to QS/1. Other applications support pharmacists’ medication therapy management initiatives, and medication adherence through an application called Health-Minder.

VoicePort’s Claro Pharmacy Solutions division has teamed up with PDX to offer an interactive voice response service with outbound patient notification through PDX’s EPS and Classic pharmacy systems. VoicePort’s platform “offers a high degree of flexibility and configurability designed to optimize our customer’s specific technology, workflow and financial requirements, as opposed to a one-size-fits-all approach,” said Adam Vargulick, director of product development.

ScriptPro expanded its line of robotic dispensers to a total of six robots under two brand offerings — the larger-scale line of SP robots and the newer CRS, or compact robotic system line of automated systems. All six robots “interface with the pharmacy computer system to fill, label and collate up to 150 prescriptions per hour,” according to the company.

RxSafe expanded its automated dispensing line with the RxSafe 1800 robotic storage and retrieval system. “RxSafe technology automatically and accurately tracks all drugs in the pharmacy down to the pill or package,” the company reported. The RxSafe 900 and RxVault systems are for smaller available applications, along with the RxAWC, a fully automated, robotic will-call storage and retrieval station that the company said eliminates the possibility of theft, diversion or tampering.

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PHARMACY

NACDS urges Congress to pass provider status legislation

BY David Salazar

WASHINGTON — The National Association of Chain Drug Stores this week shared with the House Ways and Means Committee the important role pharmacy plays in the nation’s healthcare system in an effort to encourage passage of legislaton giving pharmacists provider status under Medicare Part B.

The Pharmacy and Medically Underserved Areas Enhancement Act has been introduced in both the House and Senate, and NACDS’ statement looked to drum up support by outlining the work pharmacists do for patients, particularly in medically underserved areas.

“Pharmacists play an increasingly important role in the delivery of services, including key roles in new models of care beyond the traditional fee-for-service structure,” NACDS said in the statement. “In addition to medication adherence services such as medication therapy management (MTM), pharmacists are capable of providing many other cost-saving services, subject to state scope of practice laws.”

The organization noted that a report from the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services found that Part D MTM programs helped save $400 to $525 in lower overall hospitalization costs among patients with chronic conditions. NACDS also said that ensure the success of CMS’ ongoing Enhanced MTM Model pilot, retail pharmacies should be included in them.

“We urge you to increase access to much-needed services for underserved Medicare beneficiaries by supporting H.R. 592/S. 109, the Pharmacy and Medically Underserved Areas Enhancement Act, which will allow Medicare Part B to utilize pharmacists to their full capability by providing those underserved beneficiaries with services, subject to state scope of practice laws, not currently reaching them,” NACDS said.

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Diplomat adds former OptumRx exec to board

BY David Salazar

FLINT, Mich. — Diplomat Pharmacy’s shareholders have added a former pharmacy benefit manager to its board for a three-year term, the company announced Thursday. Jeff Park was OptumRx’s COO from July 2015 to July 2016 following the company’s merger with Catamaran, where Park had been EVP operations since March 2014.

“Jeff Park is an important addition to Diplomat’s board of directors,” Diplomat chairman and CEO Phil Hagerman said. “He has substantial experience in the PBM industry, a field significant to our business. Our board believes Jeff’s broad experience across important industries will add a valuable perspective to our growth strategy.”

Before that role, Park was Catamaran’s CFO since March 2006, after he had been a member of its board of directors and served as an SVP at Covington Capital. During his 11 years in the healthcare industry, Park has had experience with acquisitions and organic growth, as well as extensive financial, accounting and corporate governance experience.

“I’m honored to begin working more closely with my fellow board members,” Park said. “Diplomat does an incredible job putting the patients first as the largest independent provider of specialty pharmacy services. I’m excited to work with a company that has maintained personal care on a national level.”

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