Healthcare is facing a dire workforce shortage. From nurses to lab techs to pharmacists, the impacts of staff shortages can be felt across the industry: closed clinics, restricted services, delayed care, and more.
In the pharmacy business specifically, short staff can mean high levels of burnout, lack of proper patient engagement, or even sub-par care.
What’s needed is a solution that can augment pharmacy staff, eliminate tedious workflows, and better support patients. Automation – which has been present in nearly every other industry for years – is finally becoming a viable option to combat some of pharmacy’s ongoing challenges.
Developing Automation Technology
Over the past 5 years, UPMC Enterprises developed and deployed a home-grown, AI-driven patient outreach solution that identifies individuals who need pharmacy support and engages them on an ongoing basis. Whether patients need fill/refill reminders, medication info, or counseling on side effects or dosing, the text-based virtual assistant can gather information and provide real-time support.
The UPMC Enterprises team worked with UPMC’s clinical experts and pharmacists to develop conversation flows and workflow tools that would best support care teams and patients. As Rebecca Taylor, PharmD and senior director of pharmacy at UPMC said, “technology is essential in transforming pharmacy and clinical operations… We communicate with over 60,000 UPMC patients annually and make a meaningful difference in their lives, while also streamlining processes for pharmacy staff.”
In 2023, Arrive Health acquired UPMC Enterprises’ technology to better support patients throughout their medication adherence journey. Arrive Health’s industry-leading cost and coverage network supports providers in making informed prescribing decisions. With the addition of UPMC’s technology, Arrive Health will further support care teams and the patients they serve with automated patient access resources.
The Benefits of Pharmacy Automation
In addition to the benefits of ongoing patient engagement, discussed in our previous blog, automated pharmacy technology can handle significant volumes of manual and repetitive tasks, allowing pharmacy staff to focus on high-value, high-touch care. On average, over 4,000 calls per month were eliminated from the UPMC work queue, increasing care capacity, improving operational performance, and allowing staff to focus on more meaningful work. The UPMC team also created targeted outreach campaigns for patients needing specific support. For instance, more than 50 low-value calls were offloaded each month for those needing Hepatitis C vaccines.
Numerous use cases for automated, personalized patient outreach have been tested and proven, including hospital discharge and outpatient prescribing programs, medication-specific follow-up messaging, and ongoing support and surveying. At UPMC, these programs have driven a 200% increase in pharmacy refill rate and a 32% reduction in 7-day readmissions – all through automated outreach.
At UPMC, these programs have driven a 200% increase in pharmacy refill rate and a 32% reduction in 7-day readmissions – all through automated outreach.
By shifting the workload from staff to software, pharmacy teams can work more efficiently and provide a level of customer service that was previously impossible. Automated messaging and response collection also increases the number of patient touch-points (and response rates) while reducing the overall cost of outreach.
Pharmacy Automation is Available Today
With the addition of automation and virtual assistant technology, Arrive Health’s first-of-its-kind medication access solution delivers cost and coverage information to providers, reduces workflow burden for care teams, and engages patients throughout their healthcare journey. Automation is no longer the ‘future’ of healthcare. Automation is available today, and it can create a better experience for both patients and care teams.
Reach out today to learn more about enabling pharmacy automation at your health system.