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June 09, 2022

At the Precipice of Retail Pharmacy Transformation

David Kirkus
PharmD, Director of Consulting Services, EnlivenHealth

Pharmacies use cutting-edge digital technologies to enhance patient engagement, maximize revenue performance, and deliver high-value clinical services. Automating and simplifying pharmacy operations has become increasingly crucial as retail pharmacies play a more significant role in patients' health journeys. Using cutting-edge digital technologies to enhance patient engagement, maximize revenue performance, and deliver high-value clinical services, frees pharmacists' time to provide patient care.

COVID-19 was all-encompassing, all the time. A great deal of awareness was generated about the importance of community pharmacies in healthcare and patient outcomes due to the pandemic. Some pharmacies operated in a manual setting, attempting to accomplish everything simultaneously. The workload was too great, leading some to decide to sell their businesses.

Based in Northwest Arkansas, Harps Food Stores is a supermarket chain with retail pharmacies across Arkansas, Oklahoma, Missouri, and Kansas. As a result of COVID-19, Harps examined their time requirements and considered how they could improve their pharmacy practice practically and efficiently. To manage their time more efficiently, Harps turned to technology to help them provide better care for their patients.

Duane Jones, RPh, Clinical Program Director and Pharmacy District Manager, Harps Food Stores, initially thought they could do med sync manually but later found out it was too much to manage.

Harps decided to move to foundational technology with a medication synchronization platform. They rolled it out very deliberately, allowing pharmacies to get comfortable using the platform and to get patients used to receive refill reminder communications. Next, they rolled out immunization reminders. The platform has been a tremendous asset for their company. It generates more consistent adherence by their patients and more constant refills, achieving a 70 percent refill rate. It allows them to proactively manage their workflow throughout the month instead of having everyone come in at one time.

Harps then expanded their platform to include scheduling software. Jones believes schedule software was their salvation during COVID-19. It allowed patients to access the system to schedule their immunization and choose their pharmacy location. It also provided valuable information about the patient. Harp administered over 20,000 vaccines without overwhelming their operations.

Under Arkansas Medicaid, pharmacists can do point-of-care COVID tests and treatments. Harps schedules testing and boosters in several pharmacies, including strep, flu, and other immunizations. All Harps pharmacists are credentialed with Arkansas Blue Cross Blue Shield as providers. They currently are providing point-of-care testing and billing for those services.

Harps has seen several significant benefits. Their pharmacists are gratified to have enhanced interactions with patients. They're able to bill as a normal provider does. This is going to mean a radical transformation of pharmacist workflow. As they make that transition, with the support of programs and technology, their work-life will be so much more fulfilling.

Listen to the latest Future of Pharmacy Podcast to learn even more about how pharmacies like Harps Food Stores are transforming retail pharmacies with consumer-centric technology.

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The views and opinions expressed in this blog are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of any other agency, organization, employer, or company. Assumptions made in the analysis are not reflective of the position of any entity other than the author(s). These views are always subject to change, revision, and rethinking at any time and may not be held in perpetuity.