Sponsored by Genoa Healthcare
On-site pharmacy services are high on the wish list of many community mental and behavioral health centers, and with good reason. Outsourced pharmacies sited within centers can offer unparalleled convenience for patients, and give centers the opportunity to build pharmacists into their extended care teams. The end result: Better access to pharmacy services for underserved populations, improved medication adherence, fewer emergency room and hospital visits, and better patient outcomes.
However, bringing in a full-fledged on-site pharmacy isn’t the right option for every center. Depending on their size, location, patient mix and other factors, many centers lack the space or adequate consumer base to support a traditional pharmacy. In addition, some larger centers are hesitant to bring in an outside pharmacy without testing for “fit.”
A growing spectrum of pharmacy services
There’s good news. New options have emerged in a growing number of states that can fit the on-site pharmacy needs of virtually any non- or for-profit center.
What’s changed over the past few years is twofold: First, recent strides in technology have made telepharmacy virtually indistinguishable from traditional pharmacy and helped bring it into the mainstream. Second, mounting awareness about the lack of access among underserved populations has contributed to a growing number of state regulators permitting telepharmacy and other innovative pharmacy services.
This paper discusses two options on the continuum of on-site pharmacy care gaining traction among community and behavioral health centers: Remote dispensing sites and medication coordinators.
REMOTE DISPENSING SITES (RDS)
Improving access to pharmacy through telemedicine
What exactly is a remote dispensing site, and how does it differ from a traditional on-site pharmacy? At first, or even second glance, one would be hard-pressed to spot any differences. Both have pharmacy windows, shelves stocked with medications and consumers stopping by to chat with certified pharmacy technicians who are filling, packaging and dispensing prescriptions.
The difference is that in an RDS the pharmacist works remotely. Using sophisticated, HIPAA-compliant audio/visual technology from a managing pharmacy, the pharmacist verifies prescriptions and provides live-video counseling for consumers. As with traditional pharmacies, consumers develop relationships with their pharmacists, receive timely consultations and walk out of the center with their medication in hand.
The remote dispensing concept is relatively new, but it’s a trend that’s growing rapidly across the United States. Nearly half of all states permit telepharmacy, compared to fewer than 10 a decade ago.1 Over the past five years, more than 200 remote dispensing sites have opened across the country.
Benefits of Remote Dispensing Sites
An RDS provides all the benefits of a full on-site pharmacy in an economical package. Research shows that the convenience of onsite medication and easy access to a pharmacist help increase medication adherence and first fill rates. Remote dispensing sites run by pharmacy chains that specialize in behavioral health, such as Genoa Healthcare, provide services tailored for individuals with mental health and substance use disorders. They include:
- Pre-filled pill organizers that make it easier for consumers to track complex medication regimens
- Synching prescription refills and simplifying pick-ups to coincide with clinic appointments
- Conducting proactive medication adherence outreach calls
- Offering delivery services and 24/7 on-call support
- Helping with insurance prior authorizations
- Building relationships with physicians, caregivers and consumers
Is it right for my center?
Remote dispensing sites are more accessible to smaller centers or those in rural and other underserved locations. Often, the biggest question centers must consider is state laws and regulations. Increasingly, state legislatures and boards of pharmacy are recognizing the value of remote dispensing sites as an efficient, effective way to increase access to pharmacy services in rural and other underserved areas.
CONSUMER MEDICATION COORDINATORS
Innovative Solution for Smaller Centers
When space or size considerations make a pharmacy or RDS unrealistic, many smaller centers opt for an on-site consumer medication coordinator, or CMC. These are dedicated pharmacy liaisons who help with the coordination and delivery of consumers’ medication. CMCs work with a full-service pharmacy in the area.
Benefits of CMCs
While the services are somewhat different from an on-site pharmacy or RDS, CMCs can add significant value by relieving the pharmacy-related workload from center providers and case managers, and providing a direct line to a pharmacist with specialized expertise. Services include:
- On-site resource between your center and pharmacy
- Help with insurance prior authorizations
- Close working relationship with the pharmacy team
- Pre-filled pill organizers, refill reminders, and more
Is it right for my center?
Smaller facilities with fewer consumers and space limitations may be a good candidate for a CMC. Space requirements for a CMC are far less than what’s needed for a pharmacy or RDS. The consumer medication coordinator generally just requires a desk, phone and internet connection.
Also, it’s a low-risk way for a larger center to see if an outsourced pharmacy is a good fit for the center. Once the benefits to both consumers and providers become apparent, centers can expand their partnership to an RDS or a full pharmacy.
Most boards of pharmacy recognize the value of pharmacy extender programs. While each board decides which services are permitted in each state, the majority of states allow liaisons to help coordinate pharmacy services to some degree.
FINDING THE RIGHT FIT
To find the best fit along the continuum of on-site pharmacy service, a center must balance its pharmacy needs against factors such as space, consumer mix and state regulations. An experienced pharmacy partner can help a center arrive at the right decision.
Pharmacy chains such as Genoa Healthcare specialize in helping centers find the best fit for their organizations. Genoa Healthcare has nearly 20 years of experience of owning and operating on-site facilities in community mental and behavioral health centers, including more than 450 full pharmacies and more than 200 remote dispensing sites and CMCs.
A 2016 peer-reviewed study showed that Genoa Healthcare’s on-site pharmacies achieve a more than 90 percent medication adherence rate, decrease emergency room visits by 18 percent and reduce hospitalizations by 40 percent. Its pharmacies also win high marks for customer satisfaction, with a net promoter score of 76 from center partners and 87 from consumers.
More than ever before, the growing spectrum of on-site pharmacy services offer community and behavioral health centers the opportunity to find services that fit their exact needs.
About Genoa Healthcare
Genoa Healthcare has been serving the behavioral health community for nearly 20 years, providing pharmacy services, telepsychiatry and medication management solutions. Today, Genoa Healthcare serves more than 800,000 individuals annually in 47 states and the District of Columbia, and fills more than 15 million prescriptions per year. Genoa Healthcare is the fifth largest drug chain in the U.S., with more than 450 pharmacies located within behavioral health centers. Visit www.genoahealthcare.com.