Five benefits of an innovative PSAO
By Gold Eneyo, PharmD, Phyllis Houston, MSOL , Peter Kounelis, R.Ph.
As an independent pharmacy owner, you want to do whatever you can to grow your pharmacy and improve your power to compete. An innovative pharmacy services administrative organization (PSAO) may just be your untapped secret weapon when it comes to preserving your independence. While traditional PSAOs are still focused on mostly administrative functions, your pharmacy can thrive if you partner with a PSAO that's looking to the future and actively advocating on your behalf.
Here's a look at the key advantages that a forward-thinking PSAO can bring to your pharmacy. Look for a PSAO that:
1. Uses data-driven insights to see where the market is headed
An innovative PSAO can utilize insights captured from inbound data and decipher where the market is leaning and what healthcare consumers are demanding.
The PSAO then asks, "How can we enable pharmacies to meet that demand with technology solutions?"
For example, data may indicate that consumers want digital solutions that allow pharmacies to book a variety of healthcare appointments. By meeting this demand, your pharmacy can continue to be among the most accessible healthcare providers in your community.
2. Offers tools to help pharmacies evolve
A forward-thinking PSAO is always looking for tools that can help pharmacies evolve with the times, staying at the forefront of new trends.
When COVID-19 vaccines were first introduced, more than 60% of the patients that came to Elevate pharmacies for a vaccine had never filled a prescription at that pharmacy before. This revealed an untapped demand for these services and demonstrated the high level of care patients can receive at an independent pharmacy, but pharmacies may need to evolve to offer more clinical services and ensure they are offered conveniently.
For example, if a pharmacy is going to offer a variety of immunization services, how do they get that message out? What type of business-to-consumer marketing is most useful today? And once that's in place, how does the pharmacy book vaccine appointments in a way that's convenient for the customers, but also allows the pharmacy to easily submit data for reimbursement?
What if there's another pandemic? Can your pharmacy provide the same level of service with its current model? If not, the right PSAO can help put the plans in place so you can be ready to meet your patients' needs when the time comes.
As your pharmacy evolves, you need the tools to not only get patients in the door, but also to have a smooth workflow that helps you generate revenue without inefficiencies. This requires a PSAO that can leverage technology in a smart, efficient manner.
3. Helps pharmacies respond to modern epidemics
The COVID-19 pandemic has really highlighted gaps in healthcare access and how badly pharmacists are needed to fill those gaps. But there are also many other epidemics that need addressing, including diabetes, hypertension, depression, and more.
One of the key advantages of a PSAO is that it can help pharmacies find the tools they need to help their communities through all kinds of modern epidemics. And while many states currently don't allow pharmacists to prescribe medication, there are other tools that pharmacies can utilize while we continue to advocate for pharmacy.
For example, patients may visit pharmacies more frequently than they visit their own doctors' offices, especially in rural communities. Pharmacies can step up monitoring certain vitals, like blood pressure readings, along with offering point-of-care testing for other vitals like A1C levels. Even if pharmacists can't prescribe medication immediately, they can still capture vitals, monitor them, and send details to the patient's prescriber.
PSAOs can help pharmacies put the infrastructure and tools in place for performing these services and improving patient adherence, while also advocating for prescriber status.
4. Helps build the infrastructure for opportunities
If there's one thing the pandemic has taught pharmacies, it's that their communities need them to move beyond dispensing medication. While not all states have the regulations in place to allow this, now is the time to prepare.
Look for a PSAO that has programs in place right now in anticipation of these laws. This will equip your pharmacies to jump on those opportunities quickly once they're available. An innovative PSAO is already thinking not only about expanding pharmacies' services, but also about how reimbursements will work.
For example, more pharmacies are able to provide increased immunizations thanks to collaborative practice agreements. In some states like Washington, they may be able to prescribe birth control or other medications based on available agreements. Look for a PSAO that's well-versed in scope-of-practice laws in your state. This is a key way that innovative PSAOs are giving independents the power to compete.
The good news is that more and more states are implementing collaborative practice agreements that allow pharmacies to stretch into providing more clinical services. Look for a PSAO that is up to date on these opportunities and can help you identify and leverage them.
5. Advocates on pharmacies' behalf
Independent pharmacy owners would be wise to look for a PSAO that actively advocates on their behalf for provider status, lobbying on a state and federal level.
Since the pandemic, the public has seen the need for pharmacists to step into a provider role. With the new COVID-19 antivirals, for example, pharmacists can test a patient for COVID-19 and assess if an antiviral is right for them, but they can't immediately prescribe it. This leads to a delay in patients' receiving the treatment they need.
Look for a PSAO that's fighting for pharmacies to be able to provide these clinical services — and then consider fighting right alongside them. The future of independent pharmacy and pharmacy, in general, may very well depend on this evolution. A forward-thinking PSAO knows this and is actively working on making this future a reality.