Photo by Sue WatsonAmanda Honeycutt, student pharmacist at Tyson Drugs, gives Drew Snyder, director of state Medicaid, his annual flu shot.
Photos by Sue Watson(Left) Holly Johnson works in the compounding lab. (Right) From left are Jordan Ballou (Tyson’s), Terri Kirby, (director of pharmacy, Medicaid), Sen. Neil Whaley, Drew Snyder (executive director, Medicaid), Bob Lomenick, Joseph Nosser (Tyson’s) and Tara Clark (deputy executive director, Medicaid).
Medicaid leaders tour Tyson Drugs
Mississippi Division of Medicaid leadership visited Tyson Drug Co. recently to learn more about how owner Bob Lomenick has designed and implemented a system to assist patients in getting their medications in a timely and efficient manner.
Executive director Drew Snyder, deputy executive director Tara Clark, and pharmacy director Terri Kirby came to Holly Springs to observe the innovative way community pharmacies are providing care to their patients.
Lomenick said he has organized the pharmacy to cut out the hectic environment and to improve efficiency for staff and convenience for patients. That includes monthly adherence phone calls to clients. When patients are called to remind them of their medications, they are also asked if they have any over-the-counter needs. Those are tucked in the package, ready to pick up in one easy transaction. Patients are also reminded during the routine phone call if they need to get a flu shot. Immunizations for shingles, pneumonia, and hepatitis, to name a few, are also available.
“Constant communication is the key,” Lomenick said.
The goal is to get patients to pick up their medications by leaving them a reminder on their phone. The pharmacy also offers delivery. Those who fail to respond after four days get a follow-up call.
Lomenick said very few clients complain about the reminders. Patients get used to getting the calls, and appreciate the reminders.
The system keeps track of whether patients are picking up their meds by a sign-for prescription device at the checkout counter. Some patients pick up their meds on the quick pick-up side, located one door down from the front door on the west side of the building.
Lomenick has gained a reputation as an industry innovator. Part of Tyson’s mission is to help patients manage multiple medications and follow their dosage schedule. He created Right Way Meds to synchronize patient refills by combining strip-packaging technology with medication therapy management.
Patients taking multiple medications can have their prescriptions filled in compliance packaging to cut down on complex dosing regimens. An easy glance lets the patient know if he or she has taken or missed a medication using the strip-packaging dispensing system. The system boosts patients’ adherence. It makes Tyson’s workflow smoother but more importantly, also leads to healthier patients.
Inside the building is a maze of small office spaces where patients pick up medications or get immunization shots. The pharmacy also has a compounding lab where dermatological products (topical delivery of medicines) are made as well as stomach medicines, veterinary medicines, and some pills.
On completion of the pharmacy tour, Snyder was asked if he had taken his flu shot. He had not. So Lomenick asked, “why not do it now?”
Snyder agreed to a short interview after receiving his flu vaccine from Amanda Honeycutt, student pharmacist at Ole Miss.
“I’m really impressed to see what Tyson’s is doing to promote medication adherence and to go above and beyond,” Snyder said. “It’s not just the medications that can improve a pharmacy. They (pharmacists) play a big role.”
Snyder said his visit was a good opportunity to see the innovative tools healthcare providers are using to improve outcomes and to reduce the total cost of care. Medicaid’s pharmacy director suggested he visit Tyson’s to see cutting-edge pharmacy practice.
State and federal dollars in Mississippi spent on Medicaid comes to $5.9 billion annually, Snyder said. The state pays $1.4 billion or close to 24 percent. Mississippi’s enrollment, though on the decrease in recent years, has stabilized at 720,000. The highest spent on one beneficiary is for a hemophiliac whose treatment costs have come to $4.8 million, Snyder said. The lowest average cost for a healthy child is about $200 a month for all care. A non-disabled, non-pregnant adult costs between $400 to $500 a month for their medical care, he said. Mississippi has about 40,000 to 50,000 patients in that category.
Snyder said Medicaid expansion is up to the Mississippi Legislature. Enrollment is on the decline in Mississippi and there is no significant growth in enrollment, he said.
Tyson Drugs has four locations, on the square in Holly Springs, Right Way Meds, Potts Camp Pharmacy and G&M Pharmacy in Oxford. The company has about 60 employees.