Patient contact made easy

Saturday, March 31, 2007

WATERBURY, Conn. - Neb-med pharmacy Health Complex no longer needs a full-time employee to call its 350 Medicare patients each month.
A new, Web-based automated system contacts beneficaries, freeing Pharmacy Director Richard Aust to fill prescriptions, follow up on patient questions and perform other tasks.
With the neb-med dispensing fee--$57 for the initial fill and $33 afterward--barely covering the cost of doing business, keeping overhead low helps, said Aust.
"We look at it on a regular basis to make sure its financially worthwhile," said Aust. "With this, we're offsetting the cost of a full-time salary."
With the medSage system, the company pays a few dollars per month per patient. An added bonus: It's easier to keep up with its customer base.
So, far, said Aust, his elderly patients have adapted well.
The pre-recorded voice of a Health Complex employee identifies herself and leads the patient through several simple yes or no questions about refills, equipment problems or if they are having difficulty breathing.
"They don't have to hit any buttons, just answer the questions," said Aust. "It's actually been better accepted than I initially thought."
Aust worked with medSage, establishing parameters like which patients to call, what time of day and how often. Daily downloads notify Aust about refills, changes in medication or insurance, and breathing difficulties. If a patient is unreachable after a certain number of tries, or the phone number is incorrect, Aust follows up with a phone call.
"At this time of year, I have a lot of customers who go to Florida," he said. "Maybe we need to change the phone number or call them manually."