Dispensing Compassion, One Call at a Time
Hospices count on Enclara Pharmacia for many services, including digital tools, strategic guidance and analysis. At the heart of it all, however, is medication access and expertise in the unique pharmacology of hospice care. That’s where the Patient Care Operations Call Center comes in.
The call center provides three key functions for Enclara’s hospice clients:
- Reviewing mail order dispensing requests for safety, accuracy and appropriateness
- Drug Utilization Reviews (reviewing a patients’ overall medication regimen)
- Consulting with clinicians to determine effective interventions
It all makes for busy days and nights for the pharmacists and technicians who staff the department 24/7. Clinical Pharmacist Linda Cattai is used to the hustle after more than 20 years with Enclara and its predecessor companies. Although she enjoys the many varied responsibilities of the job, her favorite part is being a problem solver to help patients feel better.
“I like putting the puzzle pieces together. The doctor or nurse will give you a symptom, then you have to look at a profile and assess what’s going on,” Cattai said. “I’ll look at everything – secondary diagnoses, primary diagnoses, medication side effects or interactions. I become more of a private detective at this job than I’ve ever had other jobs.”
Technology Has Changed Hospice Workflows
Call center operations have changed a lot since Cattai started. Back then, technicians and pharmacists dealt mostly with phone orders and faxes. Now, many hospices have adopted electronic prescribing, electronic medical records integration and Enclara’s E3 medication management platform. That has led to a more proactive approach.
“We have seen a big shift in technology and how hospices are working with us,” said Senior Manager, Patient Care Operations Melinda O’Shaughnessy. “Ten years ago, most of our interactions were inbound calls to place orders. Now, we’re just as frequently reviewing electronic orders and placing outbound calls to nurses if we see issues with safety or appropriateness. We’re also relying on written communication more for less urgent matters so that we’re able to be more respectful of the nurse’s time.”
A Unique and Important Service
While much of the call center’s work supports Enclara’s mail order pharmacy, reviewing incoming requests for safety, accuracy and appropriateness, there’s much more to it. Hospices that rely primarily on Enclara’s Neighborhood Connections local pharmacy partners also utilize the service. That’s because no matter where a hospice sources medications, call center pharmacists are a crucial part of their clinical care team, particularly for difficult symptom management. Documentation of Drug Utilization Reviews to support CoPs compliance is also available through the call center pharmacists.
“Our call center team is simply unparalleled when it comes to institutional knowledge and clinical expertise specific to hospice pharmacology,” Enclara SVP of Business Development Deanna Douglass said. “It’s been built over decades to provide value to clients and comfort to their patients.”
Sustaining what makes the call center special year after year requires a robust training and mentorship program. New hires participate in training and direct supervision for four to six weeks. Once they are ready to work more independently, they join a “nesting pod” with more experienced pharmacists readily available.
It takes a special kind of pharmacist to pursue the additional training and continuing education required to serve the unique needs of hospice patients. Not every new hire sticks with it. The ones that do tend to have a personal stake in the work. “Typically, they are people who have been impacted by hospice in some way through a family member or someone close to them, O’Shaughnessy said. “What keeps them here is the desire to help others and make people comfortable in their last days.”
- Making it Work (From Home) – Learn how the call center shifted to remote work during the pandemic.
- Palliative Pearls – Real-life case studies drawn from call center consultations.
- MUGsTM – Learn about our client-exclusive Medication Utilization Guidelines app, a.k.a. MUGs.