“If you don’t document it, it didn’t happen.” These words from Mark McCurdy, RPh, pharmacist and owner of Mark’s Pharmacy in Cambridge, Nebraska, shine a light on an ongoing issue in the pharmacy industry today: reimbursement for clinical care. McCurdy’s answer to this problem? Care plans.
As a CPESN Luminary, McCurdy has been recognized as an expert and industry leader on pharmacy care plans. During a recent webinar titled, “Care Planning: Keys to Thriving and Surviving,” he made a case for independent pharmacies to start embracing care plans. “This is the way pharmacy will be practiced in the future,” said McCurdy. “We’re going there.”
Care plans are the future, and the future is now.
Care Planning 101: Why Care Plans Are Important & How They Help
With the increased attention and emphasis placed on patient outcomes, having a plan in place to monitor and assess your patients’ progress is a no-brainer. Let’s take a closer look at care plans:
What Are Care Plans?
First things first. A care plan is a plan developed by a healthcare professional (in our case, a pharmacist) that lays out a strategy for achieving a patient goal. That goal could be any number of things — anything from minor weight loss to lowering blood pressure to treatment for chronic diseases like Crohn’s or Hashimoto’s disease. Care plans also make communication and coordination between all the members of the patient’s healthcare team much easier. If everyone knows the plan and everyone’s working from the same playbook, patient outcomes not only improve — they skyrocket.
Electronic care plans, or eCare plans, are exactly what they sound like: electronic versions of a care plan that can easily be shared between a patient’s healthcare providers. Many pharmacy software providers currently offer eCare plans as part of their services.
What Goes Into a Care Plan?
Since care plans focus on a particular patient goal, no two care plans should be exactly alike. Each care plan will include information specific to that patient as well as their specific treatment plan. However, there are some things that all care plans should contain. These include:
- Adverse reactions to medication
- Allergies to medication
- Dosing and dosing changes
- Medication & disease education
- Medication reconciliation
- Medication therapy problems
- Medication history (including prescription refill history)
- Any lab results
When filling out a care plan, there’s one thing you need to remember: As a document, it’s fluid. It’s subject to change, and it will change. You’re going to want to document everything, but you know as well as we do that you simply won’t have time. And that’s okay. Make changes as they become relevant. Record the necessities, and fill in other details when you have time. It’s better to do a little bit consistently than trying to do too much, growing frustrated, and giving up on the whole idea.
How Care Plans Help Your Patients
As a business whose customers are more than just customers, a pharmacist never makes a decision about their pharmacy without considering its impact on their patients. In this situation, there’s no downside. When pharmacists use care plans with their patients, those patients get the kind of personalized care they’ve always wanted. Often when they go to a doctor, they sign in at the front desk, take a seat, and wait for their name to be called. Once they do actually get back to an exam room, they re-explain the same issues they explained six months ago to both the nurse and doctor.
That doesn’t happen at a pharmacy.
When that patient walks into their pharmacy for the second or third time that month (or more, as typical patients see their pharmacist upwards of 35 times per year), they are greeted by name. They see the pharmacist when they walk up to the counter, and they don’t have to take a number or have a seat. Personalized care like that is what keeps patients coming back. And the more they choose their pharmacy over their physician, the better you will get at providing their care. Honestly, it’s a win-win.
How Care Plans Help Your Pharmacy
Care plans aren’t just good for your patients; they’re beneficial to your pharmacy as well. Care plans provide proof to payers that your pharmacy is doing more than dispensing. If you document the care you provide to your patients, you can get reimbursed for that care. And the more pharmacies that provide well-documented clinical care services, the more payers will have to consider pharmacists as healthcare providers. Care plans can help you open up a new, reliable revenue stream for your store and put you closer to becoming a true New Era Pharmacy.
Pharmacies also benefit from the streamlined communication and coordination between you and your patients’ other healthcare providers. Taking care of your patient is much easier when everyone is (in this case, literally) on the same page.
With the emphasis placed on value-based care (and compensation), using care plans in your pharmacy simply makes sense. Implementing them means more than helping just your patients; you’re helping the entire pharmacy industry.
For payers, care plans prove the value of the care you provide. For patients, care plans offer the personalized healthcare they’ve always wanted. For you, care plans are your ticket to better outcomes — both for your patient and your pharmacy.