As they’ve evolved from merely dispensing medications to having more proactive roles in frontline patient care, pharmacists are more important than ever as the nation’s most accessible healthcare providers.
Todd Eury of The Pharmacy Podcast Network (PPN) recently hosted a one-on-one interview with RxSafe Founder and CEO William Holmes. They discussed how the role of the community pharmacist has grown and what the changes in the pharmacy industry mean for providers and patients.
Below are excerpts from the conversation between PPN and Holmes.
What is RxSafe Doing to Support Pharmacy?
“RxSafe has been an enormous support and catalyst in the transformation of the pharmacist’s role with regard to the help they provide to community pharmacies in rolling out marketing services and engaging physicians,” says Eury. “Engaging patients on the importance of medication adherence is one of the biggest problems we have in our healthcare system,” he continues.
Holmes said he believes the pandemic has a silver lining in that pharmacists have gained respect, as well as a better understanding of the vital role they play by taking care of the Baby Boomer population.
“As we go forward in the future, about 10,000 (seniors) enter the Medicare system every day,” Holmes explains. “I'm part of that demographic.”
“Pharmacists are improving their skills and practicing at the top of their license by being authorized to give immunizations and provide other clinical interventions. And even technicians are now being allowed to give influenza immunizations and do other testing services. I think we're seeing the tip of the iceberg of major transformation of this amazing resource,” Holmes says.
What are the Challenges and Changes to the Pharmacy Industry?
“Competition in the realm of pharmacy is greater than ever because of how things are changing. Care models are changing. Payment models are changing. There's lots of people in our industry who don't take any action in really helping to be any kind of change,” explains Eury. But Eury hails the efforts at PBM reform by state associations citing efforts in Ohio, Arkansas, and Pennsylvania, as well as the efforts of the NCPA (National Community Pharmacists Assocation), led by Doug Hoey.
“Changes in PBM reform will have a domino effect on many facets of the business of pharmacy,” explains Eury. “And one of the things that is going to change, whether you want it to change or not, is the fact that adherence is going to be recognized much more by the payment mechanisms, by the private payers, by the PBMs, by Medicaid, Medicare part B, and even D.”
“All these changes will force pharmacies to get into adherence packaging,” Eury states. He cites the interest of new players who anticipate the opportunity in the changes, such as Mark Cuban, who recently opened an online pharmacy to complement his Cost Plus Drug Company.
What Do These Changes Mean for Patients?
Many experts believe these changes will be a positive for healthcare, and patients in particular.
“When patients are adherent, the patients win because they improve their health and they're less likely to have to be admitted to a care environment or acute care setting,” Holmes explains.
“The family, the caregivers who are surrounding that patient, and the physician also wins when there’s adherence,” Holmes continues. “I can tell you from personal experience when you have a loved one that enters the acute care setting, it doesn't just affect the patient. It affects the entire family. It's devastating, absolutely devastating. So, the family wins when there's adherence, the physician wins when there's adherence because no one complains more about patients not taking their meds correctly.”
How Does Adherence Packaging Affect Compliance?
“When a patient comes back with the same chronic condition due to non-adherence, it just becomes an endless cycle of visits and disappointments,” explains Holmes.
On the other hand, when patients are adherent and taking their medications as they should, it means better health outcomes for the physician and more profits for the pharmacy.
“If you take your medications correctly, you're refilling 12 times a year versus only seven and a half times a year, if you are non-adherent, as data suggests. And a pharmacy has that success in that adherence program, it can grow the business and be more financially healthy. There really isn't a choice anymore,” Holmes says.
Eury agrees that pharmacies must get into adherence packaging to survive, saying, “There's too many organizations that have figured this out. And they've been positioning for years to take advantage of what's going happen as things continue to change in the PBM space.”
How can Pharmacies Add Value to Their Services?
Eury stresses the importance of the delivery of medication adherence in keeping patients compliant.
“Making it simple, putting it in the box, being able to put bigger, detailed directions on the box and a QR code on the box that keeps them engaged with medical information” are some factors crucial to patient adherence, he explains.
“There's a lot of things taking place that community pharmacists are going to adopt to thrive and not just survive. And then taking advantage of the fact that the experience that your patients are having, they're going want to come back to you for more services because of the value that you present,” he concludes.
RxSafe helps independent pharmacies innovate by offering solutions that transform their businesses by improving patient care through adherence packaging.
To listen to the whole podcast click here.
To learn more about how RxSafe can help your transform your pharmacy, or to learn more about our adherence packaging solutions, visit our products pages or call us at 833-791-1772 to talk to a Business Transformation expert.