Providing the necessary benefits that all LTC pharmacies need – and want.
An aging population has increased the demand for long-term care (LTC) in our nation’s healthcare delivery system. The typical LTC patient is living with more than one chronic condition and relies on as many as 10 different prescription drugs. Nursing facilities often contract with specialized LTC pharmacies to provide support and continuous medication management for complex health concerns.
Because senior patients’ needs happen around the clock, and very often on a STAT-needs basis, the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) requires LTC pharmacies to have an emergency backup system in place. When these requirements are handled internally, in-house staff must put in extra hours and shoulder backup duties after they’ve left work. This approach introduces the risk of employee burnout as well as the potential inability to service customers when they need you most. But there is a better way.
MedCall, the leading provider of backup pharmacy services in the United States, offers comprehensive services including: labor-saving pharmacy benefit management, an extensive delivery network, facilitating of after-hours coverage, and expert handling of vital STAT-needs, including IV orders. 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, they have a contingency plan available to assist.
Managing a LTC pharmacy means balancing equally the requirement to maintain a dependable backup system, the wide variety of customer needs, and the important goal of sustaining and boosting employee morale.
Tim Rowland, former COO for Strategic Health Partners/Senior Care Pharmacy, recently managed a group of seven pharmacies. “In two LTC pharmacies that we established, we initially handled the backup, including STAT orders, needs ourselves,” he said. “As we grew, however, the number of these orders became a bit overwhelming.”
Ultimately receiving as many as 30 after-hours or STAT requests per day meant that staff pharmacists were being repeatedly interrupted during their normal duty or awakened in the night and potentially having to come into work the next morning exhausted.
Jason Sutton is the director of LTC pharmacy operations at Medicine Chest Pharmacies. His challenges involve getting smaller pharmacies off the ground quickly and efficiently. “Independent pharmacies can find it hard to meet all of their customers varied needs,” he said. For example, when you are rolling out a stand-alone pharmacy, you may not have sufficient resources to quickly locate an unusual drug and manage STAT delivery. “In many cases, that kind of turnaround would not be able to happen for us without help.” STAT orders are particularly disruptive and negatively impact efficiency, MedCall addresses this directly
For Rowland, cost played a large role in his decision to seek out an external backup pharmacy service. MedCall provided reliable and comprehensive backup coverage for approximately $5,000 per month, delivering a substantial cost reduction of more than 55%.
“We were evaluating 24 hours, 7 days a week staffing at our Strategic Health Partners Pharmacy in Utah,” Rowland said. “We needed to cover eight hours a day of non-staffed time. It would have cost $13,000 a month to hire a pharmacist for 56 hours a week.”
Staff satisfaction was also a concern. “It’s not easy to find great team members. When business needs exceed your staff’s work-life balance, you have to do the right thing for them.” Turning to MedCall’s backup pharmacy services paid off quickly. “My company is in a growth mindset,” Sutton said, “using MedCall is getting us where we want to go a lot quicker than building brickand-mortar pharmacies around the state.”
Rowland’s LTC pharmacy serviced facilities that were spread across a large geographic area, which meant delivery services were a key part of the business. “At times, because of weather or some other process related problems, a delivery could not get on a flight — meaning it would not have been possible to get the drug where it needed to be until the next day.”
When it comes to STAT IV medications and first-dose needs, timely delivery can mean life or death. MedCall’s extensive network creates crucial proximity: 80% of deliveries are completed by a courier and retail pharmacy within 15 miles of a patient’s facility location.
The variety of data that MedCall routinely gathers and provides to customers free of charge was another powerful and unexpected benefit that had a huge impact on pharmacy operations. “The list of the meds we utilized through their network each month let us assess what needed to be added,” Rowland said, “so we could deliver these drugs more cost effectively.”
For LTC pharmacies, backup services are a regulatory requirement. In addition, STAT orders add a certain amount of complexity which prevent filling orders in a timely manner. MedCall turns these requirements into a necessary benefit with a list of advantages.
When it comes to staff morale and satisfaction, MedCall is a crucial safety net. “I’d say they literally save us every day,” said Sutton. “When your pharmacy closes at 10 pm and you are getting calls at 11 pm, midnight, or 1 am, or you have a STAT delivery situation that is troublesome, MedCall is saving your staff from burning out.”
And the return on investment is huge. “Compare what you will spend on MedCall with just the number of pharmacy staff hours you’ll save,” Sutton said. This is all about using your resources wisely. That’s what MedCall brings to the table.”
No matter your business size, MedCall’s combination of backup support, delivery service, STAT order filling, IV order filling, and data collection delivers a one-size-fits-all solution that meets your specific needs. Rowland utilized MedCall in seven pharmacies that serve facilities ranging from 1,300 to 8,000 patients, giving him access at any time of day.
A custom business model reflects exactly what your pharmacy is looking for. Using excellent
communication and follow-through, “MedCall becomes YOU in every aspect,” Sutton said.
“They are an extension of our pharmacy, and all our customers know is their pharmacy is taking
care of them.”
This post is related to:Long Term Care Resources