This Week Health 5 Years

What does innovation look like. Doing something differently in a way that improves multiple factors in a positive way. Labor Shortage, Cost, User Experience all at the same time. Today we explore one of these stories.

Transcript

Today in health, it, we're going to take a look at a story, which I think is an indication of what's going to happen next in our industry. And it is CVS tries out remote system to help fill prescriptions. And we will dive into that. And several other stories as we move along this week, as we try to explore what 20, 23 might look like.

My name is bill Russell. I'm a former CIO for a 16 hospital system and creator of this week health. A set of channels dedicated to keeping health it staff current and engaged. We want to thank our show sponsors who were investing in developing the next generation of health leaders, Gordian dynamics, Quill health.

Tau site nuance, Canon medical, and current health. Check them out at this week. Health. Dot com slash today. All right. If you don't know, we have a two week production break at the end of the year. Which we'll start let's see today is Monday today's Tuesday, actually for this recording. So two weeks from today, we will stop putting out today's shows.

, for a couple of weeks until after the new year. It's a chance for us to sort of get some time off. , I've produced. A ridiculous number of these this year. , more than I usually do, I recorded ahead of vacations and whatnot, which I didn't usually do, but, , there's, there's a lot going on in our industry. So I thought I'd comment on some of those things and that's an indication of what's going on in today's story.

And this one just jumps off the page at you. CVS tries out remote system to help fill prescriptions. So, let me tell you what I'm going to do over the next. , definitely a couple four days or so. , I'm going to start taking my, I believe statements and. Translating them into applications and projects that I believe health systems should be looking at.

So last week we talked about HR trends and what are some of the beliefs around how people are going to work and how they're going to look for jobs and one of those things. But one of the things that is really clear is we have a shortage of workers, period. The other thing that's obvious is we have a financial.

I'm not going to call it a crisis just yet, but we have a significant financial challenge. In healthcare. And so we are going to be looking for cost reduction across the board. How are we going to do that? Given that there's less people. One is we're just going to have to find efficiencies and we're going to have to do things differently than we have done them before. And this article I think is a great indication of what that looks like. So CVS tries out remote system to help fill prescriptions.

And here you go. , CVS Corp is testing a system that allows pharmacists to process prescriptions and park remotely. A move. It said could improve store, working conditions and the experience for customers as the company grapples with shortages of pharmacists. All right. So here's a handful of things right there. One is shortage of pharmacists.

, working conditions. And better experience for the customers. All right. We're so we're going to be able to improve the experience for the customers. Reduce our costs. Address a shortage of workers. So does this not sound tailor-made for what we're talking about here? All right. It goes on. CVS has equipped roughly 8,000 of it's, more than 9,000 us drug stores with technology that allows pharmacists to review and enter prescription information remotely while still meeting patient privacy requirements.

About 400 or the CVS. , 30,000 pharmacists are currently helping prepare prescriptions either at central locations, from their homes or in stores. Other than where medications will be dispensed. The company said. The largest us pharmacy chain by revenue said it's initiative. Which began this past summer in Arizona, we'll lighten the workload for store pharmacists and free them up to provide customers with a wider range of services.

, such as vaccinations and health screenings. This plan doesn't involve changes to how people pick up their prescribed medications from CVS pharmacies. Thing I like about that is it doesn't change the consumers. , workflow at all. It doesn't require the consumer to do anything different. It's just on the backend. This is going to be processed differently.

And hopefully free up the people who are in the store to be more responsive to the consumers that are coming in. As well as reduce the overall need. For physician or pharmacist to be at every location. All right. So you're reducing your costs. You're improving your service. , some practitioners, however, have concerns about whether CVS has planned will ultimately improve service.

Or working conditions for pharmacists, , may have chronic staffs shortages, state regulations also present some barriers for the company to further execute its plan.

It's really a way to make the processing of prescriptions much more efficient. CVS executive Karen Lynch said in an interview of CVS and rival Walgreens boots Alliance. Are struggling to stop the Exodus of drugstore pharmacist by offering measures such as bonuses, higher pay and guaranteed lunch breaks. Pharmacists were already in short supply before the pandemic.

Demand for COVID-19 shots and tests, coupled with nationwide labor shortages exacerbated the problem. Walgreens with nearly 9,000 us locations. I said shortages of pharmacists and pharmacy technicians

let it to reduce ours at roughly one third of its stores. Cutting its. Revenue and frustrating. Customers the chain is rolling out a network of automated, centralized drug filling centers, which the company says will reduce pharmacists workload. , let's see, it goes on

the CVS initiative is a step towards pharmacist's. Eventually carrying out crucial tasks, such as verifying pill counts in fiscal bottles from remote locations. Something that most state pharmacy boards currently don't allow executive said in that scenario, pills would be placed by pharmacy technician on a specialized tray.

Which use weights to register a pill count and that information along with the image of the prescription. Would be beamed to the pharmacist who could be working at another state. Or a central location. The scope of CVS has rollout is limited in part by state regulations that require drug stores to have certain number of pharmacists onsite or prohibit drug, , remote drug verification. The company said those rules vary by state and most states bar pharmacists from working remotely.

, but Mr. Shaw said, staffing remains a concern with many pharmacists, still overworked and fewer people attending pharmacy schools. Meanwhile, he said, pharmacists are leaving drug stores to work in hospitals or other jobs. A number of pharmacy school, applicants has dropped. So you have that issue. We have to win them back so forth and so on. So that's how that sorta ends.

I really like the story, because I think it illustrates the opportunity and the challenges. Right. So from an opportunity standpoint, improve the patient experience, improve the working conditions and, , you have. The reduction of costs overall in the healthcare, , community. So that's the opportunity. The challenge is there are some who don't believe it will improve those things.

, and if not implemented well, as we've seen with other technologies or other processes, if not implemented, well, it may not improve. The overall experience of the consumer. But again, I'm willing to say, let them try it out. See what it actually does. If you free up the time for the pharmacy pharmacists in the pharmacy techs.

In the store to actually interact with the consumers more, that's just a positive period. One of the reasons my wife used to go to the Walmart pharmacy was because of the technicians we had out in California. And the people who were in that store were just exceptional. They would look at the prescription. They would have conversations with her about her father and just all sorts of wonderful things would happen in that scenario. If we could free up the pharmacist and the pharmacy techs to have those conversations, that is a win-win.

These days. , what's the, what's the challenge here? The challenge is will it actually improve things? We can measure that. And then the other challenge is we have a regulatory environment. Does it? Doesn't allow for it. And I think this is the area where with enough pain, you will see change.

Right. So Walgreens went down the path. , Reducing the number of hours, they didn't have enough pharmacists. You have to reduce the number of hours. , the pharmacy is actually open. Now, if you can imagine this scenario. Enough people walk into that pharmacy in Chicago.

And the, , they can buy chips and soda and everything they want, but the pharmacy itself has actually shut down. They can't can't get their prescription filled until the next day. I know we're Americans and, , we need instant service and all that other kinds of stuff. , that doesn't bode well, especially when you have organizations like express scripts and, , Amazon in this case,

Who can fulfill your prescriptions, get them delivered to your house the next day. If we really need them that day, we've come to rely on the CVS, the Walgreens, the Rite aids. , to be available in the Walmarts to be available and to go to those stores and get those prescriptions filled.

, if that happens enough, you're going to have enough pressure coming from the public to potentially have changed at the state level . I think this is going to happen. I think it needs to happen. , but regardless, that's not why I chose the story for today. The reason I chose the story for today is I think these conversations need to happen everywhere in healthcare.

We need to ask ourselves, do we need to still keep doing this? Do we need to keep doing this in the way we've always done it. Is there a new way to do this? Is there a way that we can do this? That, , doesn't require as much staff that drives better overall efficiencies for the, , health system that drives a better experience for the consumer. I think those things are not mutually exclusive. I don't think if we do something for the consumer that it's going to drive up cost. I don't think, , I think we can look at things and determine if there's a better way to do this.

This is a better way to do this. Now we have to test it. We have to look at the process. We have to look at the technology, make sure it's accurate. Clearly it has to be accurate, but also does it deliver on the promise that it's putting out there? This conversation. Should happen over and over and over again, by the way, if CVS can do this.

Many health systems can do this as well. And if you can do this as a health system, you probably save some money, fewer pharmacists and drive a better overall experience for your consumer. Anyway. Those are the kinds of stories we're going to be looking at this week, either in the story format or what look at it. I'm just talking about different technologies.

As we try to prepare for:

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