This article is sponsored by Enclara Pharmacia. In this Voices interview, Hospice News sits down with Enclara Vice President of Client Services Patrick Leary. He shares how Enclara’s technology and mail-order pharmacy option have helped hospice and palliative care facilities maintain a standard of excellence throughout the pandemic and how that has impacted the mission of Enclara as both a pharmacy and technology company.
Hospice News: What career experiences do you most draw from in your work today?
Patrick Leary: The experience I draw the most from is sharing best practices. After more than 20 years in health care, I have done everything from pharmaceutical and post-acute to PBM (pharmacy benefit management). For the last eight years, I’ve specifically focused on hospice. In hospice, leadership and the staff are resilient problem-solvers. Many times, they think outside the box to get things done.
The role of account management is to listen, learn and leverage what clients are already doing well with the best practices Enclara has developed to deliver a high-quality hospice experience for patients and their families.
All companies strive to facilitate great client experiences, but Enclara has made it a focal point for its day-to-day operations. What does “client experience” mean to Enclara?
Leary: The client experience for us really starts with the patient and ensuring access to hospice-critical medications, either through our mail-order program or in partnership with local pharmacies. Then it’s the nurses, finding ways to make their lives easier through technology and responsive customer service, so that they can focus on patient care. Our ability to streamline processes — everything from admission and profiling meds to completing drug utilization reviews and delivering medications — makes life easy for our partners and better for their patients.
It sounds like account management is a central element of that client experience. From a hiring and training perspective, how do you develop excellence on your team?
Leary: Part of the client experience is providing our partners with knowledgeable and dedicated partners. We recruit from a diverse selection of candidates and hire great people who care deeply about supporting the hospice mission. After that, it comes down to a highly structured training process, ongoing professional development opportunities and mentorship.
Today, we support around 100,000 patients each day at over 400 hospices. We empower our teams to work with our hospice partners, develop those relationships and support their needs. That is the crux of what we work to achieve.
How are hospices adopting and benefiting from technology today?
Leary: 2020 identified significant opportunity, and highlighted the advantages of mobile technology and mail-order. Mobile technology and e-prescribing are mandatory in many states, and in today’s health care market, they are also critical tools for our hospice partners. Technology allows for seamless workflows that support efficiency and accuracy. That makes a big difference to staff satisfaction, and also improves quality as less time dealing with administration allows more time for direct patient care.
We have a whole team devoted to improving the customer experience, not only through having the right tools, but by providing training and support so clients get the most out of those tools.
What are the top two to three technology offerings at Enclara that your clients value?
Leary: Enclara developed our E3 patient management technology specifically to help hospices get better connected, gain efficiencies, and improve quality of care. It’s available for both mobile and desktop devices, so whether at the office or on the road, hospice staff can admit a patient directly into the Enclara system, profile medications and request delivery of medications directly from the Enclara pharmacy. If they’re set up for e-prescribing through one of our partners, they can instantly route scripts where they need to go.
Our integrations with over a dozen of the leading electronic medical records systems used by hospice is another important piece. We have a whole team dedicated to creating, maintaining and improving those interfaces so everything a nurse enters in the EMR flows seamlessly to our systems. It eliminates dual entry, simplifies billing and provides full visibility for our pharmacists to consult or perform drug utilization reviews.
We continue to focus on advancements to our tools, including a reinvention of our E3 platform and developing a bidirectional or two-way flow of information with some of our EMR integrations.
Enclara provides clients with a variety of reports and actionable data. What are the tools and data hospices find most useful?
Leary: All of our hospice partners, regardless of their size, benefit from the metrics and reporting capabilities that we provide through our EnclarityTM dashboard reporting tool. We offer real-time access to nearly every aspect of medication management that a hospice might need.
In partnership with our clinical team, hospices can identify cost-effective therapies to achieve their per-patient-day cost goals. They can drill down on specific patient medication records during interdisciplinary team meetings, from sites and teams to individual nurses and prescribers. They can also identify utilization of technology to measure the efficiency of their staff.
Every hospice is different when it comes to the metrics they prioritize, which is why Enclarity is designed to be intuitive enough for any user to find the information they need and make informed decisions.
What are the top changes in hospice that you expect in the next three to five years, and what do they mean for hospice providers?
Leary: I think from a business standpoint, mergers and acquisitions are going to continue to play a key role in the overall hospice landscape during the next three to five years. We’ll continue to see consolidation and expansions, and I suspect there will be fewer individual hospices but a larger overall patient population. The involvement of Medicare Advantage managed care organizations under emerging models is going to force hospices to get creative.
Reimbursement rates will be adjusted, and payer requirements will differ from those in traditional Medicare, which has historically been the primary payer in hospice. I believe managed care will drive some hospices to compete for network status, which will in turn drive innovations that deliver an even better patient and family experience.
This will lead to some stress at first, but overall, I believe managed care involvement will be a net positive. Managed care organizations have strong connections with their members and the capacity to improve awareness around hospice services, ultimately increasing hospice utilization through earlier admission, with more patients choosing hospice as a natural extension of palliative services they are already receiving. Medicare Advantage populations tend to include more of the underserved communities hospices have historically had a hard time reaching.
All in all, we have an exciting five years ahead. The consolidation and managed care involvement are going to drive market evolution. At the same time, emerging technology will build efficiency and provide opportunities to improve overall care.
2020 was a tough year, to say the least, but there is reason for hope in 2021. What makes you hopeful about the hospice industry this year?
Leary: 2020 was an unprecedented year, but beyond all the political, social and civil issues we faced, we reestablished appreciation for our frontline workers. The adjustments made by our hospice partners to continue to earn referrals, find job candidates and deliver hospice care was absolutely incredible. Many of them turned on a dime to overcome the challenges that arose.
More patients moved to or remained in the home care setting due to facility restrictions and hospices found ways to serve those patients despite complexities that would typically warrant nursing home admission alongside hospice care. That’s a positive for patients who typically want to remain in a home setting as long as possible and it just further demonstrates the resilience and creativity in the hospice community
I think part of what 2020 highlighted was also the opportunity for more technology support, advantages of home delivery and awareness around inclusion and equality in health care. Those are areas where Enclara has placed its support.
Editor’s note: This interview has been edited for length and clarity.
Enclara Pharmacia serves nearly 100,000 patients daily, through partnerships with over 400 hospice providers across the country. To learn more about how Enclara can help your hospice, visit EnclaraPharmacia.com.
The Voices Series is a sponsored content program featuring leading executives discussing trends, topics and more shaping their industry in a question-and-answer format. For more information on Voices, please contact firstname.lastname@example.org.