With You through Changes: Heart of Texas Pharmacy Has Solutions to Meet Patient Needs
As a 36-year QS/1 customer, the Heart of Texas Community Health Center, known locally as Waco Family Health Center, has relied on pharmacy solutions that fit its unique setup and can be customized as the need arises. “I originally chose QS/1 in 1981 because it was the ‘Cadillac’ of all pharmacy systems,” said Glenn Rebber, R.Ph., director of pharmacy services. To this day, he still considers it the epitome of pharmacy management solutions, “the most user-configurable, stable, and secure pharmacy software I’ve seen.”
This confidence in his pharmacy management system has been invaluable to Glenn in an industry full of regulatory changes. “Over the years, I’ve had people ask me if I felt we would be ready for specific changes in law or changes that might affect Medicare Part D,” Glenn said. “I’ve never had to worry. QS/1 has always come through. They not only make their software available with the changes when new laws go into effect, but generally it’s several months before the law changes.”
Waco Family Health is a federally qualified health center serving the community’s vulnerable populations. A coalition
of business, political, and medical leaders founded the Family Health Center (FHC) in 1969 to address a shortage of doctors and lack of primary care access for underserved citizens. The non-profit FHC now has more than 100 providers treating patients at 14 satellite clinics in McLennan County for medical, dental, and behavioral health issues. Some of the providers are doctors in the center’s medical residency program.
The center is committed to patient access. It was the first health organization in Waco to receive Patient Centered Medical Home recognition from the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality (AHRQ) of the U.S. Department of Health & Human Services; 10 FHC sites were granted Level 3 status, the highest possible. As defined by AHRQ, a medical home offers comprehensive, patient-centered, coordinated, accessible and safe, high-quality care. Further, the FHC offers 50-80% discounts on medical, dental, behavioral, and pharmacy services through its Good Health Card program.
Managing the Requirements of 340B
The center also supports a pharmacy with both 340B and non-340B programs, located at FHC’s main center – or “nucleus” as Glenn calls it. “The pharmacy not only works with patients for their prescription needs, we also participate in resident training,” Glenn said.
This commitment to access and affordability is highlighted in the efforts of FHC’s pharmacy. Running a pharmacy that serves both retail and 340B areas can be complex. As he explained, 340B pharmacies must price these separate areas accordingly. Their pharmacy management software allows them to use special cost fields for 340B drugs and a different cost field for any third-party billing, as required. “That’s a big area that NRx has helped us with,” Glenn said. “We can keep our patient assistance program inventory separate from our retail inventory.”
Additionally, “the reporting features are a huge assistance in our 340B audits. When Health Resources and Services Administration comes in, we can produce any audit that HRSA requires,” he said. Having access to the FHC’s electronic medical record system also helps the pharmacy manage eligibility for dispensing 340B drugs to specific patients.
Of course, the daily demands of a 340B pharmacy aren’t the only challenges – the pharmacy must also stay on top of changes in healthcare laws, look for ways to increase efficiency, and make sure it stays ahead of demands for convenience and patient satisfaction.
Always Improving Customer Service
To manage these demands, the pharmacy uses tools such as QS/1’s Interactive Voice Response (IVR) and Point-of-Sale (POS). “POS has been a fantastic addition to our line-up,” Glenn said. “I couldn’t anticipate how much help it would be to us over the years. I’ve found that, through reporting, we get a lot more information about what we’re doing as far as over-the-counter medications and keeping inventory, so it’s been a huge help.”
IVR also has helped to increase workflow efficiency and boost customer satisfaction, Glenn said. “It was amazing how much IVR reduces our phone calls. It’s decreased the number of phone calls we handle by 50%.”
Patients also appreciate the ability to refill prescriptions from their mobile devices through QS/1’s mobileRx® app. “I didn’t realize there would be a need for mobileRx with our clientele, but there is,” he said. “It’s an extra benefit that’s reduced the number of phone calls into the pharmacy, and that is a big assistance in providing better customer service.”
The center’s patients have benefited from decreased wait time in the pharmacy. “We’ve been able to do more with greater efficiency as well as have the right inventory on hand when we need it thanks to NRx’s inventory management,” Glenn said. “But I think that we pride ourselves mainly on the reduced wait time. That’s the biggest thing for patients. They’ve already been to the doctor, and they don’t want to have to wait on a slow pharmacist – with us they don’t have to because of the software system.”
When it comes to choosing pharmacy management software, Glenn said the most important factor to consider is support. “We, of course, like the idea that we can configure to fit any kind of an operation that we want to work under in any type of environment,” he said. “But the technical help and the IT department are phenomenal.”
In fact, one incident stands out. Said Glenn, “It was Groundhog Day about 15 years ago…the director of pharmacy here at the Waco Family Health Center caused a little error, and we lost some information from playing with files.” With the help of the support team and their own backups, Glenn said they were able to get things up and running. “That’s the only day since 1981 that I can say we’ve ever had a true need for them to get us out of a jam,” he said.
Glenn joked that the only concern he’s ever had is that someone someday might come along and try to take his software from him. “I would be in for a big fight then,” he laughed.