Asti’s South Hills Pharmacy is unique. Located in Pittsburgh, PA, the pharmacy fills between 800 and 1200 prescriptions a day. It also provides enhanced care services such as immunizations, compounding adherence packaging, and medication synchronization.
When explaining their approach to delivery, Asti’s COO Christopher R. Antypas, PharmD, says: “Sure, our delivery program has helped us grow. But the real reason we have focused so much attention on delivery is because it helps our patients get the medications they need.”
To ensure the service meets its objective; better patient care, they are very particular about the kind of delivery people they hire to do the job, Antypas says. “We hire people that like people and we train them.” The training includes:
- Reinforce the need to take medications as directed
- Encourage them to call the pharmacist with questions or concerns
- Inquire about other health concerns
- Require them to update phone numbers
- Gather email addresses
- Enroll them in the Asti’s electronic newsletter
Antypas says that it costs almost nothing more to have delivery personnel do these things because they are already at the door. He says bringing medications to patients also improves their adherence. The delivery program has also brought in new business to Asti’s via word-of-mouth recommendations.
Overall, the pharmacy makes about 100 deliveries a day. Since most deliveries contain multiple medications, that translates into 25% to 35% of their prescription volume.
Asti’s manages customer expectations by putting clearly defined parameters around the service. “We do not run a Domino’s Pizza style delivery service,” he says. Asti’s deliveries are scheduled and typically are done a day or two after the request is received.
Doing all of this keeps six drivers busy servicing patients who are placed into one of four geographic service areas. To help schedule deliveries, Asti’s uses outbound call or text message services to contact patients and schedule the delivery. Antypas says the feature has proven useful because it delivers a message recorded in the voice of the pharmacist. If the call goes to an answering machine, it leaves a message that asks the patient to contact the pharmacy if the proposed delivery date and time will not work for them. They also use software to map delivery routes and equip their delivery personnel with tablets to bill credit cards, gather signatures, and share other information.
Adding to the efficiency of the system are medication synchronization and compliance packaging programs. Antypas says both services help to consolidate prescriptions into one delivery and thus reduce the number of trips the drivers make.
As demonstrated at Asti’s, a well-trained and well-equipped delivery person can be the eyes and ears of a pharmacy. And, when their feedback is used to help improve patient care, Antypas says, a pharmacy’s sales and profits will improve as well.