How pharmacies can leverage Big Data to save costs and improve patient outcomes

Pharmacies have been one of the areas in healthcare hardest hit by the COVID-19 pandemic. They are currently in a state of pseudo-recession, and, according to the National Community Pharmacists Association, two-thirds of pharmacies are experiencing negative cash flow as a result of the pandemic. 

Leveraging data provides vast opportunities for pharmacies to reduce costs and optimize their cash flows, as well as to improve operational efficiencies and patient outcomes. Jeffrey Swanson, Head of Sales at Pharma Logistics, discussed how pharmacists can go about collecting data and use it to improve their business operations during a Sept. 24 webinar hosted by Becker's Healthcare and sponsored by Pharma Logistics. 

Five key takeaways: 

  1. The biggest obstacle to the actionable use of data for pharmacies has been the sheer volume of data and a lack of strong computational analysis technology to decipher it. Pharmacies collect data on prescription counts, open claims, refill frequency and many other facets of their business. Being able to simply translate these massive data sets, called Big Data, into useful conclusions is a significant barrier for most pharmacies. But with new data-capturing technologies, pharmacies can translate Big Data into valuable information. Visual dashboards displaying drug analytics and stats allow pharmacy leaders to quickly and efficiently see the areas in which they're succeeding and where their problem areas are.

  2. It's critical to know what kind of data to look for to make meaningful improvements to your pharmacy. Every pharmacy, no matter the size, should be gathering information on prescription count, open claims, revenue per prescription and refill frequency, according to Mr. Swanson. Assessing how many prescriptions are filled per day and per week and the difference in the volume of filling prescriptions on different days of the week can help identify which days technicians are overburdened, and which days could allow for more value-based care initiatives. Pharmacies should also look at how long it takes to receive payment from a patient's insurance after they pick up their medication, and how long it takes to get reimbursements from pharmacy benefit managers. Pharmacies should also track which prescriptions offer the most profit and which are selling at a loss. Lastly, these organizations should track how often patients refill their prescriptions on time and when they're late, especially by a week or more. Late refills are about more than just lost revenue, they can be detrimental to patient health.

  3. Once you've gathered the data, you have to turn it into results. Using data can help to mitigate drug shortages by allowing pharmacists to track shortages to see when and why they occurred. Pharmacists can then stock up on a drug when a shortage is anticipated and provide information to the FDA for a better unified regulatory response. Using data can also help pharmacies manage the reverse distribution process by tracking when drug supplies will expire based on buyer habits. Data can also minimize excessive inventory by informing pharmacists when not to stock too much of an unpopular drug.

  4. Data helps pharmacies improve operational efficiencies and costs. Inventory control is a crucial part of a pharmacy's ability to manage patient care and uphold the bottom line, Mr. Swanson said. Data allows for more accurate inventory tracking so supply disruptions don't occur and pharmacists can capitalize on bulk buys and special pricing offers.

  5. Data also drives improved medication adherence and patient outcomes. By using data, pharmacists can make care suggestions based on elements such as diet, supplements, drug education and medication adherence. Using data can also help patients save money by finding targeted coupons and special offers for them. This not only improves medication adherence and patient outcomes, but fosters customer engagement and loyalty to ensure patients continue to choose your pharmacy. 

To view the full webinar, click here

© Copyright ASC COMMUNICATIONS 2020. Interested in LINKING to or REPRINTING this content? View our policies by clicking here.

 

Featured Content

Featured Webinars

Featured Whitepapers