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  • Writer's pictureLindsay Wall, PharmD, RPh

How Independent Pharmacies Can Utilize Data Analytics

Updated: Apr 9, 2021

Welcome to 2020 – a time where data rules the world. Thanks to cutting-edge data analytics, the healthcare sector is constantly improved. Nowadays, patient care in the health system relies on data. Data analytics in an independent pharmacy can be used to improve the health and customer service provided to patients.

In a world moved by technology, ‘data analytics’ refers to the practice of gathering data and analyzing it in order to draw important insights and information contained in them. The process is helped by new software and technology that helps examine large volumes of data for hidden information.

In other words, the healthcare system is nowadays increasingly data-reliant. Similarly, data aggregation is a process in which information is gathered and expressed in a summary form. From insights on systematic waste of resources to tracked practitioner performance – data can even track the health of populations and identify people at risk for any chronic diseases.

Data to Monitor and Improve Patient Outcomes

The world of data is currently being used to track patient adherence and compliance. Therefore, getting a patient on therapy quickly is one of the best things that a healthcare institution can do upfront. From looking the patient’s first fill to tracking how quickly a patient is then refiling, manufacturers are looking at that every single day.

John Giannouris is an emerging individual in this space. As the vice president at ValueCentric, (a data aggregation company) he is confident in this approach, stating:

“I think just looking at patient care and getting them on therapy and keeping them on therapy, using that set of data that the pharmacies provide, that the patient services hub provide, from time to first fill and then time to each refill, is one way to keep patient care and adherence at a good clip.”

Meanwhile, data can also help patients who combine their therapies too – and can be used to see if there is something else going on with them. Essentially, healthcare organizations should rely on data as the best way to prevent diseases and control the health of every patient.

Data Aggregators And Specialty Pharmaceutical Launches

Data aggregators also help when supporting specialty product launches. From measuring things to combining and analyzing bits of data, most of the elements are mandatory and there is a lot of upfront work before a specialty product launches.

Many new specialty product launches are for pharmaceuticals that have been deemed “Orphan Drugs” and therefore have been granted fast track approval by the FDA. Essentially, this means that the drug manufacturing company incurs certain incentives for developing drugs of this type for “rare diseases” affecting a relatively smaller part of the population. Sometimes there are conditions applied to the FDA approval of such drugs. These conditions may include Phase IV trials, also known as post-marketing surveillance of the prescription drug, after it has been approved. This means that the drug is available to be prescribed but the patients taking the medicine are closely monitored for safety and efficacy of the therapy. This is where data aggregation can be helpful to collect this information and report it to the manufacturing company. Your pharmacy has the potential to stand out amongst the competition if you have these specific capabilities.

In a way, data aggregators work on multiple products and with multiple pharmacies on multiple occasions. With that, they make most of every part of data – from data quality to data timeliness and data consistency.

There is also the ability to benchmark pharmacies within a network – and focus on the key performance indicators (KPIs) based on the prior experience in working with them. PBMs often look at this when determining contract reimbursements to pharmacies.

A Final Word

Data can be collected and used for a wide range of activities including predicting beneficiaries behaviors when it comes to healthcare services usage to rating and scoring pharmacies by PBMs. In the end, it is the insurance companies and pharmacy benefit managers that utilize this data from everything to determining monthly premiums to be paid by beneficiaries as well as contracting with certain pharmacies to deliver services.

It is safe to say that the healthcare industry now benefits from data more than ever before. Even though the amounts of data make things challenging, data helped and positioned health management on a different level – all thanks to its aggregation and the self-service analytics that help organizations see and understand data across every system – from operational to financial and even clinical. Data aggregators are useful for collecting such data but often a competent analyst is needed to sort and efficiently use this data. The key is to carefully evaluate potential software vendors when choosing a system for your pharmacy. Look for vendors with strong reporting capabilities as well as customization available.

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