Switching Long-Term Care Pharmacies can be Easy

back view of a patient's pillpack showing the details for each med

Have you wondered if your facility should partner with a new long-term care pharmacy? If you’ve encountered these concerns, the answer should be “Yes.”

Lack of Communication

Can your nursing staff get the pharmacist on the phone when they have questions about a patient’s medications? Or, does their schedule cause missed evening medication deliveries, creating stress for the morning shift? Have you asked your team if there are issues?

Nurses and others who prepare and administer medications are the bellwether indicators of a pharmacy’s performance, says Ben Wax of Blue Ridge Pharmacy, a long-term care pharmacy in Asheville and Raleigh, North Carolina. They care about pharmacy partnerships because they know first-hand the difference a good pharmacy partner can make, bringing efficiencies to the process so the nursing team can focus on their residents instead of troubleshooting pharmacy issues

“Sometimes it takes a few moments of silence when you ask staff about any service issues they are experiencing  face-to-face,” Wax says, “but given time, they will think of concerns or ask for clarification on a particular process. As the front-line advocates for residents’ well-being, they know what’s working and what is not and needs attention.”

One example of a simple solution to delivery issues in family home care,  a segment widely served by Blue Ridge Pharmacy, is as simple as installing a locking drop box so medications can be delivered when staff are busy or have retired for the night

Lack of Engagement

4 pillpacks are displayed showing the label to ensure patient safety

Medication management is serious business, with not only patient health at stake but significant operational logistics and liabilities. “As in many personal relationships, a pharmacy may start off with promises and intensity, then develop complacency over time, as promises go unfulfilled. If you rarely see your pharmacy provider’s staff in your building, or you can’t pick up the phone and know the representative you’re dealing with, there’s a high probability your relationship is weak and could be putting your facility at risk for errors,” says Wax.

Good service starts with clear communication and documentation. Committed pharmacy personnel should be able to answer this question as honestly as onsite staff: “What kind of solution would I want if this was my family member?” If they can’t answer it, you should consider your options for change.

Make the Change

“Most facility staff I encounter dread transitioning pharmacy providers and often fall into the trap of living with the challenges they are accustomed to rather than facing what might happen if they change,” Wax says. But a  little comparative research can go a long way to making the change a positive step.

As you begin to think about changing your long-term care pharmacy provider, consider these questions:

  • Can they service all my sites?
  • Is there a primary contact person?
  • Is their pricing competitive with my current provider?
  • Do they have stellar references?
  • What can they provide that my current provider does not?

Through research and determining the answers to these critical questions, the prospect of switching providers gains momentum and feels more feasible and viable. The key is to select a pharmacy willing to invest in a smooth transition and offer strategies and technologies, such as electronic medical record-keeping, to support your facility’s growth over time.

When Blue Ridge Pharmacy works with a new client, for example, they set up 5-6 weeks of training and preparation prior to the “go live” date. Blue Ridge team members interview  staff and collect data, then places the equipment and works to build a steady collaboration between the pharmacy and the facility so they can stick to the timeline.

“As we get closer to the “go live” date, we train the facility staff and place our staff in the facility on Day One to support the transition,” he says. In the weeks following the new collaboration, the Blue Ridge team meets with the facility’s staff to get their feedback in order to determine if the new processes need to be altered or clarified.

“From that point on, each day is a new opportunity for us to show we’re invested in their success,” Wax said. “We expect to keep the relationship fluid and responsive, with follow-up to ensure our mutual targets are being met.”

The Blue Ridge Pharmacy logo