Twenty minutes. That's how long it used to take staff members at Priyank Patel's New York City-area pharmacies to address instances when a patient's medication was either not covered by a benefits plan or was prohibitively expensive.
I was fortunate to talk to Priyank about his new PrimeRxTM pharmacy management system's interface with Surescripts Real-Time Prescription Benefit, which has helped his pharmacies cut that processing time to just five minutes—a 75% reduction—and how this has benefitted patients too.
"Twenty minutes is an eternity in our business, where literally every second counts," says Priyank, who owns three pharmacies in New York: one in the Bronx and two in Yonkers. "The Real-Time Prescription Benefit solution has essentially solved this problem for us, while at the same time, providing a much better experience for our patients."
Priyank says his road to pharmacy ownership felt inevitable. "I've always wanted to help people, and I've always had an interest in health care." That's why instances of patients having to leave the pharmacy without their medications were especially heartbreaking. "This was happening multiple times per day, to maybe 20% of our patients, and the logical result was an increase in non-adherence."
Priyank's trio of pharmacies includes Felicity Pharmacy in the Bronx, and Getty Square Pharmacy and Health Rx Pharmacy in Yonkers. Both Felicity and Getty Square serve patients who mostly rely on Medicare and Medicaid.
Without Real-Time Prescription Benefit, trained pharmacists like Priyank can offer alternatives to high-cost medications or advise when prescribed medications are not on a patient's formulary—but it isn't easy. Pharmacists need to go through the arduous process of typing in the prescription, going through the payer's billing process, determining a viable alternative, calling the doctor's office to make the switch, and then running each claim through the system.
"It was a terribly inefficient system," Priyank says, "and that inefficiency is exacerbated for pharmacy technicians, who may not have the same knowledge of medication alternatives as a pharmacist."
As a technology enthusiast, Priyank says he pays attention to new solutions developed for potential use in pharmacy settings. He uses Micro Merchant System's PrimeRx™ pharmacy management system as the core operating system in his three pharmacies and is quick to praise the system's "continual upgrades," which he says capture the needs of today's pharmacies. Among PrimeRx™ capabilities are direct interfaces with several leading third-party technology providers.
Priyank had become aware of the Surescripts Real-Time Prescription Benefit solution and was thrilled when Micro Merchant Systems also recognized its potential. In fact, Priyank's Felicity Pharmacy signed on to pilot the PrimeRx™ integration with Real-Time Prescription Benefit, making Priyank one of the earliest adopters. Priyank received training from the Micro Merchant Systems team and subsequently trained employees at his three pharmacies—a 15-20 minute training process.
"We saw an immediate benefit," Priyank says. "With the push of a single button, our staff now has immediate access to each patient's benefit information. Information that used to require multiple steps and several minutes to gather now appears right away."
Our Bronx location processes 450-500 prescriptions each day, so every second that we can save is critical. And in that respect, Real-Time Prescription Benefit has truly been a gift to our team
– Priyank Patel, Pharmacy Owner
And for customers? There have been two main benefits: time and adherence.
Patients can now arrive at the pharmacy and feel confident that they will leave with the appropriate and most affordable medication. They don't have to worry that a trip to the pharmacy will be a waste of time or that the start of their medication therapy might be delayed.
This, in turn, has increased medication adherence. "Real-Time Prescription Benefit ensures patients have ready access to their medications. And since affordability is a key reason for non-adherence, that obstacle has also been removed," Priyank shared.
Priyank's pharmacy's patient adherence rate used to hover in the 60-70% range, but he proudly noted that it is almost at 90% now. He is quick to cite the multiple technology tools he now has access to through PrimeRx™, including Surescripts Real-Time Prescription Benefit.
Real-Time Prescription Benefit allows Priyank and his staff to serve patients better while improving efficiency across all three pharmacy locations.
As someone who got into the pharmacy business to help people, Priyank is grateful for the extra time this efficiency allows—time that pharmacists can spend helping patients in other ways. Among other things, Priyank says he'd like to pursue vaccination opportunities for his pharmacies, along with additional educational initiatives.
Priyank takes his role as a community pharmacist seriously, and with Real-Time Prescription Benefit, he believes he has a valuable tool in his arsenal.
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