Why and how a specialty pharmacy became a software developer
JP Lopez still vividly remembers the daily routine for treating patients at Pharmacy Advantage before 2014. “Every morning started with the staff reviewing a single printout that listed all the patients we were serving, with each Disease State HUB’s responsibilities for the day. Between all the groups combined, that typically took an hour of our time.
“Throughout the day, pharmacists and clinicians would hand-write updated patient notes and assessments on that one printout. Then we’d have to enter all those notes into the multiple Access Databases we’d created to store our information — and only one person could work in Access at a time.
“That was time-consuming enough,” JP continues. “But there was the added problem of having to stop and back-up our work several times a day, because Access crashed almost daily. And of course, whenever it crashed, we’d lose all the information that had not already been backed up.”
The search for a solution. A big decision.
“We looked at every software system on the market, and didn’t find anything that truly solved our problems. That’s when we made the decision to develop our own. So in 2011, we formed a team to start determining what the system would actually do.” And how did the team decide what the system would do? “We asked. Literally everyone at Pharmacy Advantage offered us ideas and feedback during the three-year development period before we finally launched Dromos PTM.”
More than just a note-taking program
“The most significant early contribution to what Dromos is today was the vision to make it a tool for collecting data, accessing it, and — most importantly — using that data to positively impact our processes while serving our patients. We started by working with our pharmacists to compile all clinical assessments and practice guidelines we utilize for patient counseling.
“We also wanted a more efficient way of retrieving the drug manufacturers’ information available online. So we built-in a system that gave our staff instant access to whatever references they needed through MicroMedix.
Capturing and organizing patient information
“Then we created separate modules for everything from prior authorization and financial assistance to assessments and counseling. Now, whenever pharmacists interact with patients, they have a simple tabbed system for gathering and entering relevant medical information — from disease states to medications they’re currently taking. Plus, we now have written parameters for sharing educational resources and advice in a way that patients can easily understand. Of course, those written guidelines are just that: Guidelines. But they make it that much easier for our pharmacists and clinicians to personalize their communications with each patient.
Positive impact at the individual level
“Finally, since all patient responses are now being recorded in individual case files, easily accessible whenever follow-up counseling calls are scheduled, we no longer need to ask so many repetitious questions. Combined, that functionality not only eliminated an incredible amount of duplicative work, it created extraordinary workflow efficiencies for all our HUBS. But the most important impact it had, naturally, was on patient satisfaction, adherence and outcomes.
And at the pharmacy level
“Since we initiated the development of Dromos, Pharmacy Advantage’s annual income has nearly quadrupled. Even though additions to the staff have been minimal, our pharmacists and clinicians now have far more time to interact with patients on a personal level. All of which has led to a significant increase in staff morale.
“It’s been an absolute win-win proposition for Pharmacy Advantage and our patients. Which, we’d like to think, means we made the right decision in 2011.”