What you want out of a pharmacy partner is an organization that will work closely with your physicians to ensure your residents are not over medicated.

This is part 5 of a series of 9 partnerships every assisted living community should have that was first presented at the Marcus Evans Long Term Care Summit In Florida. See the side bar for the complete list of partnerships in the series.

Most assisted living communities only evaluate a pharmacy relative to customer service. The problem is that customer service is not the primary issue that makes for a good pharmacy, or what you want to evaluate to find the right pharmacy partnership.

What you want out of a pharmacy partner is an organization that will work closely with your physicians to ensure your residents are not over medicated.

Remember, pharmacies earn revenue based on how many drugs they sell, and their goal as a business is to sell as many drugs as possible at the highest price. Some of you have residents who go from doctor to doctor and for every additional doctor they visit, they get an average of  2 additional drugs. One drug for their symptoms and another drug for the side effects from the first drug. Then, for every drug they take, there is a heightened risk of negative drug interactions and side effects that could lead to hospitalization.

Quarterly Visits

9 Partnerships
1 – Therapy / Home Health
2 – Physician Group
3 – Skilled Nursing Facilities
4 – Pharmacy
5 – Home Care Companies
6 – A Real Estate Company
7 – DME & Ambulance Companies
8 – Hospice
9 – A Coach

Just as our physicians are required to see every resident on a quarterly basis and do a medications management review, your pharmacy should also be reviewing residents’ medication quarterly and suggesting ways to reduce the number of medications for each resident.

You also want your pharmacy to ensure that your residents are using the least expensive drugs. The truth is, a lot of us who work in assisted living don’t think about our residents’ pharmacy costs until a family comes in to tell us that the resident is out of money. You must avoid your average length of stay being negatively impacted by your residents running out of money because of unnecessary pharmaceutical expenses.

Cycle Fill

Most importantly you want to make sure that you are using a “Cycle Fill” system of medication administration. It is the only way you can assure that your residents are getting their medicines accurately and on time. With Cycle Fill, your Med Techs don’t reorder or submit anything to the pharmacy, unless it’s a new prescription.

Let me explain how Cycle Fill works. Say you order a new prescription on the 15th of the month. When it goes to the pharmacy with cycle fill, you’re sent 15 pills to get your resident through the rest of the month. Then at the beginning of next month, all the medicines are refilled for every resident. So, instead of the Med Techs reordering a 1000 medicines a month, with Cycle Fill they don’t need to reorder – or submit anything to the pharmacy unless it’s for a new prescription.

This is important, because if your residents aren’t getting their medications because someone didn’t reorder, it will decrease their longevity.         .

Scott Middleton