6 Advantages of Partnering with Long-Term Care Pharmacies for Senior Living
The challenges for senior care organizations continue to grow. Executive directors of assisted living (AL) communities face increasing resident acuity, unending documentation and regulatory requirements, strained financial resources and, as reported by a recent National Center for Assisted Living (NCAL) survey, a growing shortage of employees.
Did you know?
- 52% of AL providers said their workforce situation has gotten worse since the start of 2022.
- Nearly every AL facility (91%) in the U.S. is facing a staffing shortage. Almost one-quarter are experiencing a high level of staffing shortages.
- Most AL communities (87%) are experiencing difficulties in hiring staff.
The workforce shortage is creating a need for operational decisions that help community leaders recruit and retain staff, while still providing quality care in a fiscally responsible manner.
These decisions need to recognize that people who want to work in senior living settings are compassionate, caring people who are conscious of the medical or physical needs of residents as well as their emotional needs.
Providing technology that aids staff with visibility and helps them deliver quality, safe care while still having time to have meaningful conversations and connections with residents is essential to becoming an employer of choice – and attracting and retaining qualified staff.
One business decision that can affect the appeal of the community as an employer is the choice of pharmacy partner for the organization. With senior living residents taking an average of 10 to 11 medications2, managing those medications on their behalf is a critical task. The right pharmacy relationship can make that job easier.
If your organization works with multiple pharmacies today, your staff may be struggling with the added burden of numerous and inconsistent workflows, medication ordering delays, and after-hours inaccessibility. Multiple workflows create more overhead for the care team to track and control medications, delivery, and administration. A long-term care pharmacy can not only help you with medication regimens but can also reduce staff burden.
Consider the advantages of partnering with a long-term care (LTC) pharmacy:
- 24/7 Accessibility and Emergency Turnaround
LTC pharmacies understand the operations and challenges of senior care communities and design their operations to specifically support them. With 24/7 operations and delivery guarantees, including after hours and emergency support, you can count on these specialized pharmacies to be available whenever needed.
- Senior Specialization & Staff Education Resource
LTC pharmacies specialize in the care of elderly populations, often dealing with multiple clinically complex conditions. They can offer value added services like monthly medication regimen reviews and access to consultant pharmacists. The LTC pharmacy staff can serve as a highly experienced educational resource for staff by providing additional training, information, or support.
- Cost Management and Savings
A thorough knowledge of and access to updates to the Medicare Part D formulary means LTC pharmacies can help to ensure the medication prescribed is best for the patient in terms of efficacy and price. These dedicated pharmacy resources can identify and maximize rebates or provide reporting that can help monitor costs, or flag problem areas like PRN medications that are refilling automatically when no longer needed.
- Simplified Medication Pass
Whether it is a blister pack, strip pack or calendar card, LTC pharmacies can package medications by resident to make it easier and less time-consuming for staff to administer medications. The standardized packaging that can come from working primarily with one pharmacy can make it easier for the care team to double check critical elements such as the resident’s name, date, and time of administration. Errors in administration can also be prevented since it is more difficult to accidentally administer a medication twice, skip a dose or give the medication to the wrong resident.
- Integration with EHR
Communication to and from the pharmacy is enhanced when the pharmacy system and the EHR are integrated and can exchange information electronically. Automatically updating the EHR as medications are prescribed or changed, allowing electronic submission of prescriptions, and sending notifications of expired or out-of-stock medications directly from the pharmacy to the care team streamlines workflow, and can enable the pharmacy to highlight issues or take actions sooner. Errors are minimized and staff can focus on residents rather than updating records, checking on prescriptions or following up with physicians.
- A Partner in Quality
Improving the quality of care and reducing the risk of potential medication errors can help to ensure that a community is healthy and set-up for success in caring for residents. Many LTC pharmacies employ nurse and pharmacy consultants that can help conduct chart reviews, prepare your community for surveys, and ensure that you have good systems in place to minimize errors. A strong pharmacy partner can be part of your first line of defense against medication related deficiencies.
There are a few situations in which working with a local retail pharmacy instead of an LTC pharmacy may make sense. An AL located in a small community, may have a local pharmacy that has a relationship with all of the residents and local physicians. Sometimes these pharmacies can also provide some medications at a lower cost because they have other revenue streams that can offset those discounts.
However, retail pharmacies may not guarantee the required access and delivery timeframes that can be necessary to accommodate sudden needs. They often cannot offer EHR integration, which limits the pharmacists’ ability to see the complete list of medications, conduct medical record reviews, and easily collaborate with the care team.
Establishing a partnership with a pharmacy that becomes an integrated part of your workflow and care team not only can result in better care, but can also alleviate staffing burdens.
How to choose the right pharmacy partner:
- Look for a pharmacy with the technology to support integration with the community’s EHR and to communicate electronically.
- Make sure there are service-level agreements that commit to delivery times/days that fit the community’s needs and guarantee emergency service when needed.
- Evaluate the pharmacy’s ability to serve as a true care team partner for your community.
Among all the different business decisions a senior care provider will make, choosing the right pharmacy partner has a significant impact on staff’s day-to-day responsibilities as well as medication safety. When an assisted living community selects a pharmacy partner that can help staff streamline medication management processes, improve patient safety, and give them more time with residents, they are not only meeting the needs of their current employees, but they are creating a workplace that attracts quality staff.
December 7, 2022