When pharmacy owner Priyank “Pre” Patel purchased Felicity Pharmacy ten years ago, the Bronx, New York pharmacy was filling roughly 200 prescriptions per day and was an established community resource. Patel had a vision though, that the pharmacy could be an even bigger part of the community, and he quietly set about increasing Felicity’s scope of products and services. From the earliest days of his tenure, Patel committed to delivering what he calls “outstanding customer service at an affordable price.”
Flash forward to 2022, and the pharmacy now fills more than 400 prescriptions a day to its urban clientele, most of whom are Medicaid or Medicare patients. The pharmacy offers a portfolio of clinical services including immunizations, vision testing, diabetes testing, and medication therapy management, among other services. Like most pharmacies, Felicity has been on the front lines of the COVID-19 pandemic, educating patients, ensuring uninterrupted access to medications, and administering tests and vaccinations.
It’s an impressive – and growing – workload. And through it all, Patel and his team have been steadfast in their commitment to customer service.
The secret to managing this growth while ensuring the lines of communication remain open with patients and prescribers? “That’s easy,” Patel said in a recent interview. “Automation.”
Patel installed the PrimeRx™ technology management system in his pharmacy several years ago. He did a considerable amount of research before selecting PrimeRx™, which is offered by Micro Merchant Systems. What sold him on PrimeRx™, he says, were its extensive capabilities, along with its user-friendly features, and intuitiveness. “With PrimeRx™, you can do so much,” he says.
For one thing, Patel cites the system’s automated email and text capabilities, which allow “faster and better” communication with patients. Patel and his staff rely on PrimeRx™ for critical communications messaging that includes:
• Reminders to patients when refills are due, or ready for pickup.
• Reminders when a refill has been sitting in the pickup bin.
• Personalized daily messages reminding a patient when medications should be taken each day. These messages include the time and dose of each medication.
• Birthday greetings, and other types of personalized messages.
• Targeted messages to diabetes patients, with information about testing and supplies offered at the pharmacy.
• Mass email/text alerts with notifications about immunization availability, and other clinical services.
Patel also relies on PrimeRx™ to simplify interactions with prescribers and payers. “We used to spend hours on the phone each day,” he says, “but with PrimeRx™, medication and coverage issues are resolved in seconds via automated interactions.”
Patel cites the benefits of the Real-Time Prescription Benefit solution that he integrates with directly from PrimeRx™. The solution, offered by Surescripts®, allows real-time access to each patient’s benefit information. Pharmacists can immediately determine if a prescribed medication is included on a patient’s formulary, and identify the co-pay. The solution lists up to five different medication alternatives, should the medication originally prescribed be cost-prohibitive, or not covered.
“The Real-Time Prescription Benefit solution has been incredibly helpful,” Patel says. “Every prescriber wants their patient to have the best possible medication, but sometimes that’s just not feasible. The Surescripts® solution helps ensure patients can get the medications they need, but at a price they can afford.”
Patel uses the popular blood thinner Eliquis as an example. “A patient might be prescribed Eliquis, only to learn it comes with a $150 co-pay,” an amount Patel says is unaffordable for most of his Medicare/Medicaid patients. But whereas a patient might have chosen to go without the medication, there are now options. The Real-Time Prescription Benefit solution identifies less costly alternatives. The solution also eliminates the need for pharmacists to spend time calling prescribers to switch the medication, since the change can now be made seamlessly, electronically.
“And there you go,” Patel says, “the co-pay goes from $150 to $5.”
As important as obtaining the medication, Patel cites the reduced stress on the patient. “Before we had this solution, patients spent so much time waiting. Waiting, waiting, waiting, when all they wanted to do was go home. Now that’s completely changed. A new medication is identified and approved in a fraction of the time it used to take, and that’s a huge benefit to patients.”
Felicity Pharmacy defines its core philosophy through a slogan displayed on its website: “The More You Know Us, The Better You Will Feel.” This speaks to Pre Patel and his staff’s commitment to building relationships with patients, and providing the medications and care needed.
Technology has been an invaluable tool in these efforts. And while Patel is quick to cite the many capabilities offered by the PrimeRx™ system, perhaps its greatest contribution is the gift of time. Time that used to be spent on the phone, or manually preparing emails and text, can now be spent with patients. And helping patients is, after all, the reason Patel choose to become a pharmacist.