In our 7th episode of the PharmacyNow podcast, our host Scott Vondeylen is joined by Tracy Tran PharmD, MBA, Director of Pharmacy Clinical Operations at EPIC Pharmacies, Inc. to discuss how clinical services are shaping the future of pharmacy.
Read below for our top 3 takeaways:
1. Get involved in clinical services
One of the greatest challenges for pharmacists is achieving proper recognition as healthcare providers in the retail setting. Providing enhanced clinical services presents many opportunities for pharmacists to engage with their patients and to create additional revenue for their pharmacy. To expand the role of the pharmacist, enhanced clinical services, beyond dispensing, must be implemented.
Health plans are beginning to recognize the impact that pharmacists can make in the overall health of patients, such as the pharmacist’s role in point-of-care testing. Dr. Tran comments that the industry is seeing health plans begin to reimburse for CLIA waived tests like strep or flu, both of which are extremely attractive to patients. Some states are also allowing collaborative practice agreements to occur between pharmacies and physicians, which enable pharmacies to prescribe antibiotics or antivirals for patients who render a positive result through point-of-care testing.
Incorporating clinical services into a pharmacy workflow is critical, yet challenging. According to Dr. Tran, in order to drive results, pharmacists must leverage top performing staff, empower technicians to assume different roles and responsibilities, and champion a med sync or an immunization program. The key to a successful clinical program is total team engagement.
With competition from large industry players, it is imperative for community pharmacists to get involved in order to remain competitive. Thankfully, clinical services are just one method for pharmacists to continue to receive due recognition, and reimbursement.
2. Document! Document! Document!
Unlike physicians, pharmacists may not always be in the habit of documenting encounters. Think about visits to primary care physicians – they are constantly documenting everything that a patient reports, and everything they plan to do in response. Pharmacists must understand the importance of documenting their clinical practices, as proper documentation not only gets them paid for services provided, it may also help to identify additional avenues of care for patients served.
Whether you are providing a consultation for adherence, smoking cessation, or hormonal contraceptives, documentation is key. For instance, it was only recently that health plans began recognizing the impact that pharmacists had in the reduction of risks related to opioid overdose. Reimbursement for pharmacists soon followed. It is critical that this pattern of documentation continues, as pharmacists are positioned to impact the health of the patient in many ways, thus additional opportunities for recognition may follow.
3. Collaborate with physicians
One of the most under-utilized opportunities for pharmacists is collaboration with physicians. For example, if a pharmacist has in place a collaborative practice agreement, or standing order with a physician, there are certain criteria that the pharmacist must follow. However, with the agreement in place, pharmacists could perform physician-related activities, in collaboration with the physician, and be able to bill as a medical service, instead of a pharmacy service.
A closer collaboration between physicians and pharmacists is key to holistically servicing the needs of the patient.