So, you’ve selected an advanced software system for your pharmacy operations, and now it’s time to implement it. This is the step that many providers fear most because nobody can afford for performance to falter. And I’m here to tell you that it doesn’t have to — if you have the right implementation process in place.
In fact, an outcomes-based implementation process that incorporates Lean Six Sigma principles can bring you more revenue, happier patients and more productive and fulfilled employees.
When you think about your pharmacy team, nobody entered the profession to become proficient in software. Instead, technology is the means to the end of improving patient outcomes. So, anything your technology provider can do to minimize the time you’re spending figuring out how to make the most of your software so you can maximize the time you’re spending with patients is what you want.
At Brightree, for instance, we have pharmacists like me as implementation consultants to provide the perspective of someone who has been in your shoes as a clinician and can provide feedback based on that real-world experience. I understand how just a small change in your workflow can give you more time to spend looking out for your patients and providing the best outcomes for them. And by using the Lean Six Sigma principles during go-live, we’re able to help you identify those pesky issues that get in the way of those awesome patient outcomes we all got in this business to achieve.
Read on for 6 steps that can bring you the gains you’ve been looking for.
- Grab those baselines. You’ll want to identify key performance indicators (KPIs) to determine how you’re doing in terms of pharmacy performance. By looking at areas such as dispenses, patient census and referrals, you know how many patients you’re seeing, how many medications you’re providing and where your referrals come from. We also pay attention to user actions to know the details on metrics like how many prescriptions each pharmacist is filling. And then sales order is the last one that’s a crucial indicator for every pharmacy business. Think about it: if you deliver a medication but fail to confirm the sales order, you’re not generating an invoice to bill, which means you’re not getting reimbursed for that order.
- Collect objective data. For a really accurate account of your pharmacy performance, you’ll want to prioritize collecting and reviewing objective data that’s in the system over subjective data. Using the KPIs from that data allows for comparison back to your baseline.
- Identify the opportunities. The results found in your data should be used to identify and address deficiencies in your pharmacy workflow. Let’s go back to my previous example with a sales order. If you have an intake defect that requires 90 minutes of additional work added to your process and the cost of that time is calculated to be $25, that rework, for as few as 10 sales orders a week, would cost you $13,000 a year. And that’s just one defect! The data also gives you opportunities for additional education. At Brightree, for example, I have clinician-level calls with pharmacists and pharm techs for additional training opportunities based on what the data uncovers.
- Improve your output. It’s true that habits are hard to break, but to see real improvement in processes and workflows requires follow through on the recommendations that are provided to your team. At Brightree, our implementation team is not only staffed with pharmacists, but our entire team is also Lean Six Sigma certified. And we’ve recently started offering a yellow-belt course for our pharmacy customers as well.
- Use the tools. Taking advantage of the tools and features that are already there in your software system to make your job so much easier should be a priority. If you’re just doing the bare minimum, there are areas within your business that are going to suffer – and that includes your revenue. For example, at Brightree, we have tools that we provide for pump rentals. If you rent pumps to patients and don’t utilize those tools, you lose pumps — and that’s thousands of dollars lost with every pump that goes away. Join webinars about new releases, schedule meetings with support and attend user conferences to learn from your peers.
- Take your turn. When it’s time for you to start utilizing the monitoring tools on your own, your technology provider should make sure your pharmacy knows how to use them for continuous improvement opportunities. Once you take ownership and know what you’re looking for, you can start watching your numbers and keeping your performance on track.
Software is meant to lessen your load — not add to it. Using these 6 steps for an outcomes-based implementation helps your pharmacy team minimize system issues so you can focus on maximizing all those gains for your patients, employees and business.
Learn more about our pharmacy implementation process and ongoing support that’s with you every step of the way to make the most out of your investment at https://www.brightree.com/professional-services-customer-support/.
Jeston Whitsell, Pharm D, Senior Implementation Consultant, Brightree
Jeston is a consultant with the pharmacy implementation team and has previous experience as a pharmacist in retail, hospital, and home infusion. In addition to providing Brightree training, he utilizes his previous experience as a director of pharmacy to promote efficient home infusion pharmacy workflow and data monitoring to enhance pharmacy performance. Jeston obtained his Doctor of Pharmacy degree from the University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences in Little Rock, AR.