If the pandemic has taught us anything, it’s not to touch our faces. If it’s taught us two things, it’s that almost any industry can be made more accessible through online experiences or contactless exchange.
When it comes to patient experience, the pharmacy counter used to be the final destination. Now, prescription delivery has become the final mile and ultimate handoff. And though it might seem like a much simpler component of care to navigate than, say, diagnosis, that final mile is more uphill than downhill.
Here’s the rub: Building out the logistics for prescription delivery comes with considerably more hurdles, including time-sensitive prescriptions, patient consultation requirements, privacy restrictions and expanded pharmacy risk. All of which is to say that pharmacy expertise or fulfillment expertise alone aren’t enough. A holistic, successful solution requires commanding knowledge of both.
Pharmacy delivery is complex, and likely only to become increasingly so, as the rise of interest in prescription delivery brings about new and increased regulatory considerations and requirements. Still, the foundations for a successful pharmacy delivery model are rooted in two questions:
How does my final mile impact my patients’ care? If a process can successfully support patient care within the available technology infrastructure, the other components, though important to sort out, will not generally be the undoing of the whole enterprise. Let’s take a deeper look at the two questions you simply can’t ignore.
Logic tells us that the end user is the primary consideration in most delivery models and systems. In pharmacy delivery, the end user is also the patient, and must be the first and most important consideration, not just for the bottom line, but for the success of the treatment plans that prescription medications support.
Patient-first means understanding that if the process isn’t correctly facilitated and people miss a dose, it has failed the organization and the patient. Success can’t co-exist with that reality. You should carefully consider all the dangers involved when sending high-risk medications to your patients. What could happen if that medication goes missing or expires? How will that affect the patient on the other end of the delivery? We live in a humanistic society, so your patient-first experience should both show and communicate this to your patients. Ask yourself if the process you imagined has key points of contact with the patient.
Does my technology environment support this process? Put another way, does the proposed system actually create more work and time to deliver? The thing about logistics and supply chain management is that we’re building something that needs to be simple, dependable and repeatable. Pharmacy nuances raise the stakes on that mandate and dictate unique challenges that the technology and process must solve.
Visibility, transparency and accountability are the watchwords — and also the components that are most likely to trip up those would-be players in this emerging space. That’s why it’s important to resist the urge to reinvent the wheel. Pharmacies wading into this space should consider URAC accreditation to gain access to URAC’s guidelines and recommendations, and ensure that the model meets the most stringent requirements available today. It’s a step that preserves brain power and safeguards the work.
To solidify technology, process and prescription delivery as a pro is a monumental task that requires the perfect combination of expertise, partnerships and tenacity. But done properly, there’s the potential to reimagine patient experiences for the better and eliminate barriers to care.
I encourage anyone wading into this space to take a step back, evaluate their current realities, expertise available, tools at their disposal and the ultimate goal of the work. Allow yourself to be open to unexpected possibilities, and consider that the path of least resistance might also be the path of greatest compliance and efficiency. It might be that a partnership fills the gaps more easily than a custom process.
With a solution tailored to your supply chain’s specific needs, you can ensure that risk is minimized. Lost packages, expired medications, and poor customer interactions can impact your patient’s experience. Last-mile delivery experts can help you meet your accreditation and standards while putting patients first. Ultimately, taking time to make the right choices up front will ensure a more viable product in the end.
Mark Lutcavish is PharmacyIQ general manager at Triose.
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