Topics #3 and #4 : Staff shortages and collaborative practice agreements.
In this five-part blog series, we explore the top challenges that community health centers face when running profitable, efficient, and impactful in-house pharmacies. In these next two topics, we cover staffing shortages and improving access to care, health outcomes, and capture rates with collaborative practice agreements.
In-house pharmacies and today’s community health centers (CHCs) are juggling a lot—from drug costs and shortages to patient demand, an ever-changing regulatory landscape and more. Some of the top challenges facing today’s CHC leaders are staffing, patient access to care, and bettering health care outcomes.
Onsite pharmacies can help CHCs optimize clinical outcomes for patients, but pharmacies are facing their own sets of challenges. These are some of the top challenges facing in-house pharmacies.
Challenge #3: Staffing shortages
Attracting and retaining pharmacy talent has been a challenge for the past several years, as high-traffic, long hours, and high-demand have placed an undue burden on pharmacy staff. This pervasive issue is impacting pharmacy opening hours and their ability to provide patient care across the board: a 2022 National Community Pharmacists Association survey reported that more than 75% of pharmacies were struggling to fill open positions.
For CHCs and other covered entities looking to balance operating costs with providing high-quality patient care, partnering with a third-party pharmacy services manager can make all the difference. These experienced organizations specialize in recruiting and onboarding talent that will be the best fit for your organization and provide a range of services to fit your unique needs including pharmacy oversight, , credentialing and licensing support, contracting with health insurers and other payors, managing pharmacy staff, and can help to standardize processes, workflows, and ensure a high level of quality service.
These services can also translate into better health care outcomes for patients and improve access to care—something many health centers are struggling with today. As patient demand for quality service continues, it’s no surprise CHCs are also balancing the need for increased care outcomes and capture rates.
Challenge 4: Improving access to care, health outcomes, and capture rates with CPAs
To meet changing demand, health center pharmacies will need to prepare staff for expanding roles that assist care teams. There are a wide array of services pharmacists may be able to perform as extensions of the care team, including: collaborative drug therapy management, medication therapy management, test and treat, point of care testing and the measurement of other biomarkers to evaluate the therapeutic effect of the drug therapy, patient assessments, medication adherence initiatives for chronic conditions such as diabetes or asthma, oversee vaccine clinics, and perform patient educational interventions.
Collaborative practice agreements (CPAs), point of care testing, test and treat, drug therapy management, and other services are paving the way for greater integration of pharmacists into patient care and can improve access to services and health outcomes. A CPA is helpful in establishing a set protocol for pharmacist collaboration; it is defined by the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) as a “formal agreement in which a licensed provider makes a diagnosis, supervises patient care, and then refers patients to a pharmacist, who is authorized to perform specific care functions. 
When working to define your pharmacy’s CPA, it is mission critical to check local and state laws to ensure compliance:
- First, consider which patient care services your in-house pharmacy would like to offer.
- Next, be sure to understand all local and state laws: Does your state allow pharmacists to perform the services you’ve outlined?
- Third, understand the initial and ongoing investment you’ll make. Identify the costs associated with offering these services: How much will training, additional staffing, billing management services, and marketing fees cost?
- Lastly, outline the business case for your CPA: Are you struggling to meet increased patient demand for access to services? Are you currently able to accept new patients in a timely manner and meet their health care needs? If so, could implementing these services drive additional business and help improve patient outcomes?
To meet changing demand, health center pharmacies will need to have adequate staffing and prepare staff for their expanding roles that assist the care team improve access to care, health outcomes, and their organization’s financial health.
Maxor is here to support changing care delivery models and ensure staff are not only trained, but well equipped and prepared to lead this transition—and ultimately help your center address health disparities, increase access to high-quality care, and even improve time-to-treatment for better outcomes.