April 21, 2020 

RxCOMPASS a Powerful Tool to Boost
Script Volume As Prescribing Drops

Check our COVID-19 RESOURCE CENTER at  https://www.aprx.org/home/covid-19-resource-center  for constantly updating guidelines & resources
After an initial surge in prescription volume at U.S. pharmacies in March, many are experiencing continued drops in volume as the pandemic worsens, unemployment rises and social distancing practices keep many patients shuttered. In addition, many of our members are reporting that one or more of their top prescribers have shut their doors or gone out of business.

During this time of rising unemployment, closing prescriber offices and shrinking patient traffic, it is essential that you take decisive action to increase your prescription volume. If you have a solution in place to manage medication adherence, make sure it is effective and easy to manage. If you are  doing automated patient outreach, make sure you pursue all available opportunities with patients and that you monitor your ROI and success rates. 
American Pharmacies members enrolled in RxCompass already have a powerful, proven platform to drive this effort. The RxCompass Refills on Time report, no matter how it's used, is proven to increase Rx volume following personal patient outreach.  Additionally, APRx has developed a recommended strategy for members called Guided Growth, with two primary objectives: optimal efficiency and maximum ROI.  Again, Refills on Time-driven patient outreach alone is proven to yield increased Rx volume; however, following the Guided Growth method can also increase Rx volume per patient, per call and per minute of outreach, as well as simultaneously improve profitability, Star Ratings performance, and increase med sync or auto-refill enrollment.

Last but certainly not least, this personal outreach is an effective opportunity to strengthen patient relationships and showcase the value of your pharmacy and its services. This is accomplished by identifying and targeting opportunities across multiple metrics, then prioritizing outreach accordingly. Essentially, the Guided Growth method ensures that the highest value opportunity is pursued with each call, irrespective of the number of calls or outreach hours. Your time is always limited, making it critical that you get the most from every minute you invest in this important effort. 
Of course, the proof is in the pudding, as they say:   your  end results define the success of your planning and efforts. Since its launch in 2016, 39 APRx member pharmacies have participated in the Refills on Time initiative, some for more than three years and some for as little as a week.  Following more than 20,000 successful patient interactions, these pharmacies have captured approximately 38,000 fills as a result of this outreach alone.    At right is a breakdown of key performance indicators derived from actual member experience.

How RxCompass Offsets Lost Prescribing at One Texas Pharmacy

APRx member Vanessa Recio-Rawls has seen a pronounced drop in the number of prescriptions from doctors in the Mission, Texas, area her pharmacy serves. "Every doctor here is seeing a significant reduction in patient volume, said Recio-Rawls, PIC and managing partner at Richard's Pharmacy in Mission. "And the ones that are still open have cut back their hours." 

Vanessa Recio-Rawls, PharmD
Recio-Rawls was an early adapter of RxCompass when American Pharmacies launched the program three years ago, and she's become an even bigger fan of the platform during the COVID-19 pandemic.

"We've been able to maintain a decent volume due to our RxCompass reports," she said. "It's an absolute necessity to my pharmacy right now."

Recio-Rawls has a single technician assigned to work through the Refills on Time (ROT) Report each week and make patient outreach calls. The tech spends about 20 hours on the task, she said.

 At first, she said, the pharmacy used only the ROT report to guide its outreach, and in the first week picked up about 200 scripts. When the technician started consistently working through the entire ROT report outreach each week, Recio-Rawls added the Refill Report to guide further patient outreach.

"The Refill Report helps us capture fills now that we won't have to dispense until four or five days out," she said. "That helps us manage our inventory better and keep our stock lower."

Richard's has been operating in closed-door mode the last three weeks and Recio-Rawls said there are both detriments and benefits to the situation:   "We really miss seeing our patients face-to-face" she said. "We really do. But our productivity is up significantly because we have fewer distractions."

That increase in available time has enabled her staff to expand its patient outreach efforts significantly:  "We've been able to talk to so many more of our patients, especially the chronically ill ones" she said. "And we've filled many more maintenance prescriptions than we usually do."

Pushing refills out several days by using the Future Fills Report also makes it easier to enroll patients in med sync, she added.       

Common myths and misconceptions pharmacies cite for not doing outreach: 

1.  "We don't have time."
  • Successful calls average only 1-2 minutes.
  • If 50% of calls are  answered, and 60% of answered calls result in a refill, the payoff definitely justifies the effort. 
  • Statistically, 2 of every 3 calls answered should produce a refill!
2.  "We don't have enough staff."
  • Even in busy pharmacies, there are opportunities throughout the day for at least one staffer to make a few 1- to 2-minute calls.
  • If staff is limited, allocate the responsibility among 2 or more employees. If no staff limits exist, create a dedicated bloc of time for a single worker.
3.  "Patients will refill on their own."
  • IF the patient does proactively refill, it will be late.
  • An APRx study of the adherence rates for member pharmacies using automated patient outreach showed an average gap in medication therapy of 27 days.
    • For a 30-day supply, that's 6 fills a year vs. 12.
  • Under the Guided Growth strategy, ROT outreach specifically targets gaps in therapy less than 7 days a week.
    • This practice establishes a very effective safety net that identifies past-due refills for  targeted outreach.
Here are some common reasons patients may fail to fill:

1. Can't Afford the Medication
  • an Increasing occurrence with massive furloughs and job losses due to the pandemic. Stimulus checks and other emergency aid programs can help. Solutions include: 
    • Dispense a limited  quantity (what the patient can afford)
    • Preschedule refills as directed by the patient  
    • Help connect patient with assistance programs:
2. Patient Can't/Won't Pick Up Order
  • Solution:
    • Home delivery:  get Rx orders into the hands of willing patients by any means necessary; it's also a great opportunity to add any OTC or other items the patient needs.
3. Patient has Excess Meds on Hand
  • Counsel the patient on the importance of taking all meds at the prescribed frequency.
  • Determine patient's total on-hand amounts by drug, then encourage enrollment in automatic refill (med sync).
To learn more about RxCompass, contact your APRx Pharmacy Business Consultant.

During This Time of Crisis, Your Patients Need to Hear From You!

Conducting outreach calls within the framework of RxCOMPASS is a great way to maintain communications with patients who may need it most -- older patients, those on multiple maintenance medications and those at greater risk for non-adherence. But it's just one component of your overall patient communications. 
  • Remember that many patients are afraid and some don't handle isolation well. Use your website and social media to reassure them that you are doing everything you can to stay open and meet their medication needs. 
  • Make sure your patients know that you're still open and inform them of any changes in your operating hours and procedures. Post procedures for getting scripts filled by each applicable method - delivery, drive-through or curbside. Make sure they know about your mobile/online refill app.
  • Make sure patients understand that drug shortages will affect your ability to fill some scripts, or to refill in higher quantities on some others.
  • Be a reliable source of accurate information. There are many unfounded rumors and half facts circulating about COVID-19's symptoms and treatments. Caution your patients about anti-malarial drugs such as chloroquine purportedly being an effective treatment for the disease - there has so far been no large-scale, reputable trial showing any effectiveness.
  • For more recommendations, refer to our guidance document:  Effective Patient Communication During the COVID-19 Crisis.
Get Your CLIA Waiver Application in Now!

In Saturday's newsletter, we stressed the need to get a CLIA waiver if you don't have one in order to take advantage of growing testing opportunities during and after the pandemic. You can see that newsletter and related resources here: