With medication dispensing becoming more commoditized by the day, independent pharmacies must employ creative strategies that target patient health and boost revenue. Point-of-care testing (POCT) is a practice becoming more prevalent in pharmacies that allows for rapid diagnosis and treatment. Pharmacies are already viewed as the most accessible healthcare professionals; accelerating the diagnosis and treatment process by placing it within pharmacies would be an added convenience for those seeking more accessible healthcare. After all, many patients already trust their pharmacies with their health-centric needs. According to a survey conducted by Pharmacy Quality Solutions, 74% of respondents said they would be comfortable with their pharmacists screening for blood pressure, cholesterol, and Hemoglobin A1c.
POCT may also serve as a direct revenue stream. Pharmacies like Amina Abubakar’s Rx Clinic are profiting from point-of-care testing, according to this NCPA article. “Point-of-care testing provides an excellent opportunity for community pharmacies to enhance revenue by expanding patient care services while improving health at the patient and population levels.” The future of POCT looks promising, as well. “Point-of-care testing is predicted to exceed immunizations as a driver of revenue for community pharmacies, according to research from Deloitte,” NCPA reports.
While point-of-care testing offers clinical opportunities in everything from HIV to INR, there are two acronyms crucial to implementing this practice: CLIA and CMS. The Clinical Laboratory Improvement Amendments allow pharmacists to perform these screenings. However, CMS requires the pharmacist to complete an application and submit it to his or her state CMS agency. Along with the application, pharmacies must also pay certificate fees every two years to maintain their CLIA-waived status. Click here to learn more about CMS and CLIA.
For step-by-step instructions on how to get CLIA certified, read our detailed guide with sections for each State Agency:
Like any other business venture, offering point-of-care testing will require a strategy and a model. Consider all the details, from which tests your particular patients would benefit from, to how much to charge for this service.
For PioneerRx users, the Lab functionality simplifies data collection for point-of-care testing. The software even notifies the pharmacy of various lab statuses through specific colors: red for overdue labs, and yellow or orange if the results are in the low or high range of values, respectively. Of all the available screenings, blood pressure monitoring tends to be the most popular choice amongst PioneerRx and Pharmacy Finder users who reported their POCT activities. This is one of the simplest tests to conduct (usually with a blood pressure cuff), and combined with glucose and A1c screenings, this would be a dynamic combination of services to offer. After all, the aforementioned PQS report claims these three tests are commonly sought after by patients, which speaks to the areas of need pharmacies can address in their clinical services.
A group of pharmacy students, faculty, and specialists with Ohio Northern University (ONU) joined together to offer pharmacy services and free health screenings from their Mobile Health Clinic. The bus-turned-workstation addresses the needs of the medically underserved community of Hardin County, which include limited access to primary care providers and medication management for patients with chronic conditions. The ONU Healthwise team also provides a variety of screenings from the bus, including blood pressure, cholesterol, and A1c. Michael Rush, Director of Healthwise and ONU’s pharmacy residency programs, and his team rely on PioneerRx to track point-of-care testing data while on the go. “As we transition into electronic charts through PioneerRx, we are able to access records on the bus like labs for monitoring,” he explains. “We hope that as we expand our CPESN services, we will be able to not only provide services on the mobile clinic, but document and bill for those services through eCare plans, as well.
What has helped Healthwise be successful, according to Michael, is establishing connections with members of the community – a quality most brick and mortar independent pharmacies are already known for.
“The best way to comprehend issues that community members are facing is by spending time out in the community. It is so important to take the time to establish a relationship with those who live and work in the community.”