Data, Data, Data

  • February 4, 2019
  • /   Anthony Head
  • /   Post Tags

By: Anthony Head 

Part of ORCHIDsocial

Did anyone see where the programmer went? We’ll get to that in a minute. For now, let’s talk about possibly the hottest topic in healthcare right now: data. Pharmacies are in a unique and ideal position to use real data to inform decision making because of electronic billing and other tools that are available to manage workflow. Having access to all of this data creates opportunities, but it also creates a lot of noise, which can waste a lot of time. In this article, I’m going to discuss three things: getting the data into a usable format, selecting key metrics to measure, and using the information your data provides to create positive change – which will help you use your data productively and avoid wasting time.


Making Data Usable


A few years ago, I was working with a company whose strategic-planning meetings would often devolve into chaos because of the lack of information available to help us make decisions. The lack of information was not caused by a lack of data. We had plenty of data available, but it was all over the place. We had multiple spreadsheets, reports from different operating systems, and data sets that were put together by multiple people using different methodologies. We needed to make our data consistent, so we asked ourselves, “Can we look at the same metrics, the same way, every day?”. The answer was and usually is “yes.” It just requires effort. Most pharmacy management systems offer some type of dashboard that helps organize reports and if the system doesn’t have what you need, there are commercially-available programs out there. The main things to do regardless of which dashboard or system you are using to organize your data are as follows:


·      Assign a single person to “own” the process. Integrity is key, so the fewer people touching the data the better.

·      Look at the data the same way each time. Consistency is key.

·      Pick a few key metrics to start and keep it simple. Reduce the noise.

·      Establish a system of reviewing the data and stick to it. Your timelines need to match up in order to have an accurate comparison, so don’t jump around.


 Key Metrics


So, we’ve established that you want to select a few key things to look at and you want to keep it simple. How can you do that? Start by asking yourself these three questions.


1.     What is the volume of the business?

2.     Where is the business coming from?

3.     What products are we selling the most of?


Once you answer the questions above, you will start to better understand your business and should encounter some opportunities. In pharmacy we recommend looking further into the following things:


·      Trends – Monthly prescription counts, gross revenues, net revenues, and drug costs as a percentage of sales

·      Provider Analysis – Number of prescriptions coming from each provider and the associated dollar amounts in gross and net revenues

·      Drug Analysis – Drug category, number of fills of each drug, reimbursement trends, and cost trends

·      Refill Analysis – Patients on the same medication month after month, and synchronization opportunities


Just these few, simple things will give you a much clearer picture of your business and will help you decide where to apply your resources, time, and money in order to get the biggest positive impact.


Creating Positive Change


If you look at your data consistently and you track important metrics, you should now start to see areas that are ripe for improvement in your business. The two main areas of focus should be business development and operations. Here are some real examples in both areas, based on what we commonly see at pharmacies with which we work.




Refill Audits

Staffing Optimization

Drug Procurement Management

Program Development

Provider and Patient Retention

Community Education


Getting overwhelmed by data is easy. The good news is that you don’t need to be a computer programmer or data scientist to use your data effectively. You know your industry, and you know your business. Once you have your data organized and you look at the same metrics in the same way all of the time, you will find opportunities to grow and improve your business.


If you’d like some additional tips or would like to learn more about how ORCHID works with pharmacies to improve their profitability in many different ways, please contact us. We’d love to hear from you!


Okay, so back to the question about where the programmer went… I think he went “data” way.

No reason data can’t be fun!