How to strategically support physician-led primary care teams

Primary care physicians are, in many ways, at the front lines of frontline care. They’re often the first medical professionals that patients see when a health concern arises. And their longer-term relationships with patients mean they also track patients’ health – and associated care regimens – over time.

That’s, in a word, demanding.

Today, PCPs are also saddled with ad hoc healthcare tasks, from additional patient consults to medication reconciliation. And with the physician shortage, that’s not changing. In fact, by 2033 the US could see a shortfall of more than 100,000 physicians, which would make workloads even more burdensome. (And that’s without accounting for the strain that a growing senior population will place on existing healthcare systems.)

Put simply, physician-led care teams need solutions. Fast.

Here, we explore three ways RxLive supports primary care teams while improving patient health outcomes at scale.

1. Save time by tapping into a fractional network of pharmacists

We frequently underscore the value of pharmacists when it comes to addressing the provider shortage. But pharmacists aren’t just a “break glass in case of emergency” option. They’re qualified healthcare professionals who are uniquely positioned to take on additional tasks that primary care physicians find on their plates.

Regardless of whether your physician-led care team has a dedicated pharmacy function, RxLive’s fractional network of technology-powered pharmacists can help save time and improve care protocols.

That’s because the fractional network of pharmacists works with in-house providers to offer medication knowledge to patients and simplify workflows for primary care physicians. In other words, they help deliver more efficient care by increasing providers’ care capacities.

Let’s say a PCP is treating a patient with hypertension for the flu. The physician wants to prescribe Zanamivir but isn’t sure if it’ll interact with the drugs the patient uses to treat their high blood pressure. Here are two ways this follow-up could go:

  1. Without a fractional network of pharmacists that can readily provide medication expertise, the physician may need to delay treatment. This could complicate the patient’s care and health.
  2. With a fractional network, the physician can quickly consult with one of the pharmacists. After getting clarification on medication management, the physician can then design a treatment plan that fits the patient’s needs and avoids any drug interactions.

That’s how easy it can be to lean on a fractional network. It’s not a long, drawn-out process. Pharmacists are ready when primary care physicians are, and they want to help.

2. Refine your population health approach by boosting the impactability of patient data

The core objective of any care team is to promote positive health outcomes for patients. Amplified across an entire network, this objective becomes an overarching strategy for managing patients: population health. But it takes more than caring about patient health to create a population health strategy. You need patient data.

And you need a way to turn that data into protocols that improve patient health for your entire empaneled population.

To do that effectively, you need the right tools in place. Just look at how analytical solutions (or lack thereof) impact a process like medication reconciliation.

Typically, when primary care teams are overstretched, med rec is inefficient and costly. That’s because it requires two things providers don’t often have:

  1. Access to complete, accurate medication histories for every patient.
  2. The time to sift through and review each prescription.

When primary care physicians don’t have the time or necessary data to perform medication reconciliation effectively, mistakes get made. And those mistakes can lead to expensive consequences, like hospitalizations due to unforeseen drug interactions.

Population health strategies live and die by the quality (and availability) of patient data. When networks adopt platforms that aggregate and run analytics on this data, both physician-led care teams and patients benefit.

3. Improve HEDIS performance by treating the right patients at the right time

Most payers in the US – more than 90 percent – use the Healthcare Effectiveness Data and Information Set (HEDIS) to measure the effectiveness of value-based healthcare. But how can you improve your HEDIS scores while making life better for physician-led teams across primary care?

There are various ways (we outline five here) but for primary care teams, a key focus should be impactability. In other words, treat patients you can help the most.

You may determine your target population by using a range of criteria (pharmacy risk, clinical rules, your practice’s area of focus, etc.). With our platform, you can simplify and automate parts of this process. That’s because My.RxLive ingests your patient data and filters it with your criteria, highlighting a list of patients your team can most impactfully support.

That impactability directly fuels patient satisfaction. Here’s how that works in practice with RxLive:

  1. Our fractional network of pharmacists takes work off physicians’ plates – often by handling patient consults.
  2. The one-on-one time in consults deepens the pool of patient information (underlying conditions, current prescriptions, adherence barriers, etc.).
  3. Pharmacists file this information and use it to enhance care protocols for patients.
  4. Health outcomes improve steadily across the board.
  5. Patient satisfaction increases.

Remember, patient satisfaction is a key metric for determining the efficacy of a value-based care model. If you want to reach the right patients at the right time, you need to identify what the “right patient” is for your physician-led care team. That’s how you achieve the best outcome for everyone involved.

The x-factor for primary care teams? Pharmacists

The best form of physician-led care is pharmacist-supported care.

Whether you’re adopting a population health approach or aiming to improve HEDIS scores, pharmacists can relieve the burden that primary care teams face in today’s healthcare system. In the next 10 to 20 years, pharmacist contributions might not just be an asset; they may be necessary to meet public health demands.Interested in learning how integrating technology-powered pharmacists into physician workflows can improve clinical, financial, and quality outcomes? Shoot us a message. We’d love to offer guidance.

Kristen Engelen, PharmD
Kristen Engelen, PharmD, is the chief pharmacy officer of RxLive and a certified consultant pharmacist; she has over a decade of experience in retail pharmacy settings. Kristen became an RxLive co-founder because of her passion for geriatric pharmacy, with a focus on the intersection of pharmacy and aging.