If you checked out the first post in this series, you may have come to the point where the next decision isn’t whether to move your pharmacy processes and systems to the cloud, but how to get things moving. As with any technology decision or change in your pharmacy, it’s worth taking time to understand what factors should drive your planning.
From General to Specific Goals
Because a technology change like this will be somewhat disruptive no matter your choices, aim for optimal benefits. For example, simply storing your pharmacy’s data offsite in a secure and recoverable environment is not taking full advantage of cloud technology to create efficiency. Set goals based on the daily working experience you want for your team when the technology project is complete.
Having visions of a robust, endlessly customizable platform? Sounds nice, but customization that makes your version unique may defeat benefits of having a system operated by a cloud-computing vendor. Will your update become an outlier and require special attention? That may mean delays in updates and longer turnaround for bug fixes. Ideally, your provider will offer a system already tailored to long-term care pharmacy.
Think about the data collection and management functions you currently use. They are likely quite similar to the processes used by nearly 3,000 other LTC pharmacies in the U.S. You need a way to collect incoming drug orders from your client facilities, as well as pharmacist validations where required. You also need access to formulary restrictions of payers and to initiate any prior authorization requests. The list goes on, right up to loading totes and stacking them in the delivery vehicle.
You have additional processes when the truck arrives at the nursing facility: delivery to the proper floor and crosschecks with facility staff to ensure clarity between what was ordered and what was delivered. Authorized drug return collection, plus management of hazardous waste, may also be considered parts of the delivery and return process.
You’ve also been doing this long enough to know that Congress and CMS will eventually get around to mandating changes that require pharmacy processes to adjust (remember the move to short-cycle dispensing for single-source oral solid drugs?). These require periodic implementation of new procedures within your normal operations.
In It Together
So as you look at options, it’s likely that you’ll want a robust, cloud-based solution that is ready-built for the procedures you already have in place. Just as you understand what you need, your cloud provider should also know what you need. Updates should be common among the installed user base, and the interests of the group of pharmacy clients should drive the interests of the cloud provider.
And while automation of the industry’s primary procedures is a main selling point for any specialized cloud product, it’s not the only one. Managing the movement of drug orders to facility delivery is critical, but there are other software features – which we may not recognize – that are also critical to the culture of compliance in healthcare.
Consider the transmission of personal health information (PHI). Even if you do everything perfectly in capturing the prescription and delivering it to the bedside, you remain vulnerable to enforcement actions if your handling of PHI is not compliant with government standards. Your software solution should be able to help keep you compliant; that’s not something you want to manage on your own.
A Focus on Pharmacy Strengths
There are those who believe they need to differentiate their business in every way possible – “If my competitor uses a certain wholesaler, I must use a different one.” In some cases that may be valid, but in areas of pharmacy compliance and efficiency, there are advantages to operating on a similar technology platform.
Remember, the goal of any technology upgrade in your pharmacy is to further reduce obstacles to providing the best service and patient care possible. After all, you probably didn’t get into this industry to flex your tech muscles!
X-Factors for Moving to Cloud Technology in Your Pharmacy
- Begin to explore. What are your goals for a technology change? Your pain points and desired features?
- Create a product evaluation team. Include members who will operate the new system.
- Be realistic about implementation. It will be disruptive but should result in a major leap ahead for your pharmacy.
Subscribe to catch other upcoming Integra X Files content about pharmacy technology. April’s podcast features conversation on cloud technology with Bob Bates, President of Integra and QS/1.
Have you explored cloud technology? We’d love to hear what your pharmacy is doing!