Addressing the medication needs of approximately 6,500 patients in more than 60 facilities across Georgia requires a blend of adept operations and commitment to customers. To do it successfully for 30 years in an ever-changing industry takes an open, flexible mindset. ElderCare Pharmacy, a large, comprehensive long-term care (LTC) pharmacy with locations in Hawkinsville, Acworth, Augusta and Royston, calls on these traits in its mission to provide the best possible healthcare outcomes through the delivery of innovational pharmacy.
ElderCare uses the “Care” in its name to emphasize commitment, accountability, respect and empowerment. The company, part of Community Health Services, Inc., provides pharmaceutical dispensing to nursing homes, assisted-living facilities and hospice centers. Services include a pharmacist on call 24/7, infusion therapy and multi-dose, compliance pouch packaging for shorter cycle-fill increments.
In addition to dispensing, ElderCare offers consulting. Services include medication regimen review, guidance on Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services requirements and medication-related education for nursing center staff and prescribers. The company provides infusion therapy classes, compliance inspection of medication carts and quality assurance reviews of medication administration records and narcotic sign-out sheets. ElderCare also provides its LTC customers with a medical records package, working with the nursing centers to create both mandated and patient-specific reports. “We have a plethora of reports that we can offer them,” said Stephanie Kirkland, R.Ph., ElderCare’s senior director of pharmacy. “The comprehensive reporting allows us to quickly provide the information they need when they need it.”
To accomplish this breadth of service, ElderCare uses the comprehensive features and tools of PrimeCare. QS/1 has been a trusted partner for 30 years because of its ability to manage ElderCare’s highly specific needs and keep up to date on changes in a complicated industry.
“As new things become available and new challenges are presented in our environment, we needed a software provider that was willing to adapt and change quickly and then get those products and enhancements out to us,” said Kirkland.
Quick and Innovative
For example, the pharmacies address drug substitution in a quicker, easier way with PrimeCare’s Therapeutic Interchange (TI). This feature lets them create plan tables of substitutions for specific therapeutic-class drugs to assign to facilities that grant approval. TI allows ElderCare’s staff to review the information they upload and prompts them to make changes or complete additional steps.
“Therapeutic Interchange is flexible and can be customized based on the needs of the physicians,” Kirkland said. “It also saves time because it’s electronic, and staff members don’t have to refer to a huge document every time they fill a prescription. The nice thing about Therapeutic Interchange is that it allows us to do this in a much less manual process. I’m much more confident that we’re able to get everything we need and we’re not going to miss any opportunities.”
In fact, ElderCare maximizes its use of automation in all areas of dispensing, from Integra’s DocuTrack® — a paperless content management system for routing documents received by email, fax or scan — to InstantFill, which automatically queues refills, prints labels and sends orders to an automated dispensing and packaging system. “That benefits us tremendously by allowing our refills to be processed even when our pharmacists aren’t onsite,” Kirkland said. “So, we are able to have medications ready for our pharmacists to check the next morning.”
ElderCare further increases efficiency with the Workflow feature, which “allows us to track a prescription from beginning to end,” said Kirkland. It also uses Multi-Site Management (MSM™), a central data warehouse that helps consolidate management of the four pharmacy sites, including reporting and inventory tracking. Kirkland said versatility is one of the most important factors to consider when choosing a pharmacy management software. “It needs to be versatile enough to work with everything that you need it to,” she said. This includes smooth operation with other technology. “We use multiple interfaces to address different situations, and QS/1 is able to work with those with no problems,” she said.
Available and Responsive
ElderCare strives to make efficiencies available to its LTC customers, too. The pharmacies use a secure communication portal called WebConnect® to allow facilities to request new orders, refill prescriptions, add or update patient information, check for food and drug interactions, print refill reports, medication administration forms or charts and even to send general messages. This way, nursing staff on duty when the pharmacy is closed are still able to get their issues addressed.
“We’re saving pharmacy phone calls, staff time and on-call time, because the nursing center can access so much information,” Kirkland said. “It also allows us to be able to offer services that they’re not able to get elsewhere.”
For example, the centers have been able to automate medication-destruction reports and no longer have to write these manually, Kirkland explained. “The report is much cleaner, people can read it and it’s increased the time they have to give to their patients because now they’re not doing tons of manual-entry work,” she said.
ElderCare’s patients also benefit from responsive software because up-to-date clinical information makes for better-quality care. Kirkland said, “We always have the latest information where clinical enhancements or clinical data is concerned, so we are able to get that information and use it to make sure we have the best outcomes for the patient.”
Adapting and Serving
Among the pharmacy’s primary concerns as it looks to the future are changes to healthcare models. “We don’t know what’s going to be out there,” Kirkland said, so having the tools to adapt to those changes and ensuring their pharmacy continues to grow and thrive are more important than ever.
“One of the things that we are really concerned about is if we will need to bill in a completely different way,” she said. “But we feel confident that QS/1 will be able to provide that service for us. They have continued to change with the market. They continue to improve their product as they grow and as our business grows, and they continue to meet the needs that we have to have in our pharmacy software.”
In 2017, QS/1 announced the transition of its PrimeCare Pharmacy Management System to the leadership of Integra LTC Solutions. Kevin Welch, president of QS/1 and Integra, said aligning our technology offerings will enhance our customer focus and strengthen our commitment to technology excellence and responsiveness. The PrimeCare transition is in process and an update will be featured in July’s Insight.