Tennessee Pharmacist Indicted for Fraud

Tennessee Pharmacist Indicted for Fraud:

The recent case in Tennessee involving a Pharmacist indicted for fraud should make us all consider a thorough review of all our Pharmacy’s policies and procedures (or perhaps the lack of documentation that every Pharmacy is required to have). Although the purpose of this post is in no way intended to compare honest Pharmacy business owners with the Tennessee Pharmacist who was arrested and charged with TennCare fraud and selling fraudulent prescriptions, we at HCC have always believed in the old cliche “an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure”. This is more relevant today than ever in the evolving world of technology that makes having up to date policies, procedures, processes and documentation a mandatory necessity.

The case in Tennessee  involves a 76 year old Pharmacy owner charged with 25 counts of TennCare fraud. Following a six month investigation, it became clear that the Pharmacy was billing TennCare for drugs that were never dispensed to patients. As just one example, agents said that TennCare was billed 9 times for a total of $7,857.85 for Abilify (an antipsychotic medication used to treat schizophrenia). Followup during the investigation led the investigators to numerous other violations. Although this is obviously an extreme example of “one thing being looked at leading to another”, the investigators also uncovered controlled substance inventory discrepancies of roughly 195,000 controlled substance pills that were unaccounted for by inventory documentation.

The important conclusion to consider from this case is that when inspectors or investigators are focusing on one area of your business, the potential of uncovering deficiencies in other areas of your practice exists. Being Pharmacists ourselves, we at HCC know that the majority of all Pharmacy owners are extremely honest, hard working individuals who do the best job possible to adhere to all laws, standards and best practices. Yet each of us must ask ourselves: “Am I really doing this? Am I an expert on all the regulations, laws and standards that are constantly changing? Am I qualified to determine if my policies, procedures and documentation are adequate?”. If not, when was the last time that what you do have in place was reviewed by a qualified Compliance Expert or Pharmacy Consultant? If the answers to any of the questions was no, we strongly urge you to call HCC today for a free consultation at 800-642-1652. HCC is a full service Pharmacy Consulting firm that has been in business for over 27 years helping pharmacies plan, prepare and deal with issues before they become problems.


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Social Media and Pharmacy – Pharmacy Consulting

Pharmacy and Social Media is a topic that we have we have been talking about for many years now. How does a Pharmacy best utilize Social Media? How does it work and add to a Pharmacy’s bottom line? How does a Pharmacy get started and maintain a Social Media presence? What resources are required for a Pharmacy to even have a Social Media program? Is Social Media even worth a Pharmacy’s efforts?

Let’s start by facing facts: Social Media is not going away! The growth of the number of Social Media sites is ever expanding, plus the use of Social Media by patients of all demographics (age, race, income, geography) is almost exponentially expanding. So whether to “get in the game” is not really the right question. The right question is “when”? The answer is now!

Start with asking yourself the right question: “Why does my Pharmacy business need to get a Social Media strategy?”. There are various answers to this question, but let’s address the top three reasons (although you may even disagree with us):
1. To make money by attracting new patients or keeping our current patients coming back. (Just a quick note here that Social Media is actually an integral part of the complex Google ranking algorithm and your efforts affect where you rank on Google searches.)
2. To be prepared for negative publicity by being pro-active regarding your Pharmacy’s online reputation.
3. To communicate with customers and help educate our patients & keep them informed.
Each of these requires an entire blog post individually, but let’s move on to the next important question that a Pharmacy owner should ask: “With all the Social Media sites available, where do I concentrate my efforts and resources?”.  Facebook, YouTube, Google+, Twitter, LinkedIn, Pinterest,…….. it is a long and ever growing list! Plus don’t forget blogging!! The answer depends on several factors, including your objectives from the first question above. BUT the best advice is this: pick one first for the right reasons and concentrate on that one. Don’t “dilute” your efforts by trying to be “everywhere” quickly. You will end up with a useless Social Media presence and a waste of your efforts and resources.

Pharmacy and Social Media is a topic that HealthCare Consultants Pharmacy Staffing and Consulting knows about. Having been in business for over 27 years, HCC was one of the very first in the entire Pharmacy arena to have a website, plus knows how to use Social Media to make money, protect a Pharmacy’s online reputation and help patients…. all at the same time. HCC can assist you in the process of developing a Social Media plan and presence. We actually have an in house Social Media consultant with over 20 years of experience that you can talk to! Call us today at 800-642-1652 for a free consultation and let us help you understand the best way to utilize Social Media for your Pharmacy and “get in the game” with a plan that fits your budget.


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Pharmacy HIPAA Violations Rise – Develop Policies and Procedures

Pharmacy HIPAA Violations Rise – Develop Policies and Procedures:

Pharmacy HIPAA violations are on the rise again and the primary reason centers around the ever increasing digital and electronic platforms (such as EMR and other digital patient data records). There definitely has been increased scrutiny by the OCR in looking into patient privacy violations (and also increased penalties being seen including substantial fines and strict documentation and retraining mandates). The Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act of 1996 privacy rule centers around the protection of patient confidentiality, and a new system of routine audits for major healthcare providers began this year (according to Law360).

Pharmacy Times had a recent article citing the Major pharmacy chains as the biggest HIPAA offenders, with two of the nation’s leading pharmacy chains (CVS and Walgreens) having the most violations. A ProPublica investigation revealed that CVS had a reported 204 complaints and Walgreens 183. Other pharmacy chains also made the top 10 list of offenders, with Walmart being reported 71 times and Rite Aid pharmacy 48. The most commonly reported violations included pharmacy staff speaking far too loudly, compromising patient confidentiality, and dispensing prescriptions to the wrong patients. It is important to note that the infractions led to 30 financial penalties (plus a lot of bad publicity!).

Large Hospitals have recently been fined extremely large financial penalties for more serious transgressions. A prime example is the $750,000 fine that University of Washington Medicine had to pay out in December 2015. According to the HHS, the Hospital was fined following a major patient records leak with well over 90,000 patient records compromised by malicious malware that was opened in an email by a nurse. The records contained highly sensitive patient information such as patient birthdays and Social Security numbers. The biggest reason cited for the fines was actually the fact that they failed to produce, develop and implement a comprehensive set of policies and procedures to comply with the HIPAA rules. It was also noted that the staff was not provided adequate training in dealing with HIPAA requirements. Keep in mind also that along with the fines, bad publicity results in business severely suffering in almost all scenarios!

Does your Pharmacy have policies and procedures regarding HIPAA requirements in place? If so, when was the last time that they were reviewed by a qualified HIPAA Compliance Expert or Pharmacy Consultant? Additionally, do you provide adequate and documented training yo your staff regarding HIPAA? If the answers to any of these questions is no, we strongly urge you to call HCC today for a free consultation at 800-642-1652.

Healthcare Consulting is a full service Pharmacy Consulting firm that has been in business for over 27 years. HCC has been helping pharmacies plan, prepare and deal with issues such as HIPAA compliance since 1989. Just a few examples of our services include:

– Development of Policies and Procedures (including HIPAA Compliance and Documentation)
– Employee Training
– Patient Consultation Documentation
– Pharmacy Management Consultation

Although we all hope that we will never personally deal with such HIPPA violations, be prepared! HCC’s motto has always been that the old cliche “an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure” especially applies to running a Pharmacy business. Contact us on line or call us today for a Free Consultation at 800-642-1653 to discuss how we can help you.


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Pharmacy Jobs – Tips For Pharmacists Regarding Switching Pharmacy Jobs

Tips For Pharmacists Regarding Switching Pharmacy Jobs:

As a national leader in Pharmacy Staffing for over 27 years, HealthCare Consultants Pharmacy Staffing provides tips for Pharmacists to find the right job in the right place. We talk with Pharmacists daily that are considering switching positions for a variety of reasons. However, before actually making a switch, consider that perhaps simply “re-energizing” yourself first about what motivates you in practicing Pharmacy may be a good idea. In a recent article in Pharmacy Times, Theresa Morrow, PharmD gives some great advice regarding some things we all can do to “re-energize” ourselves as Pharmacists in general.

Here are some of her suggestions that you may want to consider trying:
1. Attend a CE Class – Many of us do our CE online or from a Pharmacy publication. Consider attending a CE class and meeting some new people or spending time with old friends. The social aspect of attending may stimulate you and reconnect you with our Pharmacy profession. If not a CE class, perhaps a business class or another area of interest may do the trick of “re-energizing” you.
2. Attend a Conference – There are numerous national, state and local conferences always going on. Meet some new people, learn about new opportunities and remember to have a good time. Many Pharmacists find that they can get both a vacation (maybe with your family also going?) and come back to work in a “re-energized” mood after attending.
3. Network with Local Pharmacists – Find pharmacists in your area who are willing to get together once a month or quarterly. Maybe it’s as simple as a regularly scheduled get together for dinner or drinks. Find some like-minded professionals interested in learning more about the industry, and take time to talk through your experiences. You’ll be surprised how much you can learn from others.
4. Read – Sometimes getting “re-energized” can be as simple as just reading! Learn about areas of Pharmacy that may interest you or perhaps find a “self help” book to get stimulated to take some positive action. Whatever you personally find interesting, there’s a book, blog, forum or article out there for you read.
5. Talk It Out – Before making any major decisions, take the time to discuss your options with a close friend or family member. Lunch or dinner with a peer can never hurt. Perhaps choose a trusted adviser in another Pharmacy role and find out their views regarding the pros and cons regarding their job and employer. It never hurts to hear it directly “from the horses mouth”.
6. Try it out if you can – If you are perhaps considering changing from your current Pharmacy job to another, maybe look into picking up a shift in a similar setting. Considering switching from Retail Pharmacy to Hospital Pharmacy? See if you can pick up a shift in a local Hospital Pharmacy and “test drive” the job before you switch.

If you are considering a Pharmacy job change, remember that whatever setting a pharmacist is looking to work in, HCC can help you! Our pharmacy positions and staffing availability cover all aspects of job types: retail, hospital, clinical and specialty pharmacies. Pharmacy staffing and job placement are our primary business now for over 27 years. Healthcare Consultants Pharmacy Staffing deals with all aspects of matching pharmacists to jobs in every type of situation. This includes filling short term pharmacy positions and temporary jobs, as well as permanent and long term placements. We also can help with temp-to-permanent situations. We offer solutions for almost every type of pharmacy job you may be looking for:
– Compounding pharmacy and pharmacist
– Nursing Home & Long Term Care pharmacy and pharmacist
– Institutional (prisons and jails) pharmacy and pharmacist
– Hospice pharmacy and pharmacist
– Mail-order pharmacy and pharmacist
– Home health pharmacy and pharmacist
– Respiratory pharmacy and pharmacist
– IV pharmacy and pharmacist
– Nuclear pharmacy and pharmacist
– Home infusion pharmacy and pharmacist

If you are a pharmacist looking for a new position (or simply looking for part time opportunities to earn more cash), we urge you to talk with us. With placement positions immediately available, contact us today online or call us at 800-642-1652 to get started.


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Consulting For Online and Internet Pharmacies – Policies & Procedures

Online Pharmacies have been a controversial issue for decades now. The recent charges against a Pharmacy owner and a doctor regarding an illegal Internet “scam” they ran to make millions by distributing medications to patients without valid prescriptions again brings this topic to national attention. The fact that the “scam” went on for almost 4 years is leading many legislators and consumers to voice their concerns for both better regulations and monitoring regarding Internet Pharmacies.

The basis of the indictment is that patients received prescription drugs through RX Limited and other websites by simply filling out online medical forms and then hitting the “submit” button on a website! Then pay and check out and the prescriptions arrive. Utilizing both his Anaconda Pharmacy and his MEDS 2 GO Pharmacy businesses, Philip E. Michael II, of Alum Creek, West Virginia, filled and shipped Rx drug orders to patients throughout the United States without valid prescriptions. After patients selected desired drugs and submitted an online medical questionnaire, the website would send it to doctors such as Eutan Laing, of Piscataway, New Jersey, who has also been charged. The drugs would then be dispensed and shipped without having an adequate patient history, performing any patient exams, nor using any appropriate diagnostic or laboratory testing. Then, the invalid prescription would be filled by MEDS 2 Go or Aracoma and shipped to customers.

According to the National Association of Boards of Pharmacy (NABP), 97% of almost 11,00 online pharmacies reviewed by the board are operating in conflict with pharmacy laws and practice standards. Violations have included stolen personal and financial information, virus-laden spam e-mails and even online pharmacies selling pills that contain drywall or rat poison. Some of the issues surrounding Internet pharmacies were highlighted by a case in 2012 involving a couple of Canadian businessmen who sold counterfeit Avastin, a cancer drug developed by Roche Holding AG, to Americans patients. Some of these counterfeit medications even showed up in medical clinics. In 2014, FedEx received an indictment from a federal grand jury for drug trafficking charges after delivering drugs for nearly a decade from Internet Pharmacies operating illegally. As recently as early March, there was a $2 million settlement paid by one Missouri pharmacist who distributed painkillers like Fioricet online to patients he had never seen for an in-person consultation.

In this particular case. Michael and Laing have been charged with a list of criminal charges that is almost too long to even comprehend:
– Internet pharmacy conspiracy to distribute misbranded drugs.
– Distributing misbranded drugs
– Mail fraud conspiracy
– Wire fraud conspiracy
– Health care fraud
– Engaging in the unlicensed wholesale distribution of prescription drugs
– Defrauding a health care benefit program

If you plan to open an Internet Pharmacy or currently operate an Online Pharmacy, the time to make sure that you are doing everything right and legally is now! The security requirements alone that are required are vastly complex and complicated and even without intentionally meaning to, violations such as aggravated identity theft have been filed against several Internet Pharmacies.

As always, please contact us here at HCC if you have questions regarding establishing or running an Internet Pharmacy online. With over 27 years in the Pharmacy Consulting business, HCC can assist with expert advice in any area of your pharmacy business or practice. We urge you to contact us today to see how our Pharmacy Consulting services can help. With a full-time staff of in-house Pharmacy Consultant specialists, HCC can answer any questions that you may have in all areas of your business. Call us today at 800-642-1652 for a free consultation.

 


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Medical Marijuana in Florida – Policies and Procedures/Pharmacy Consulting

Medical Marijuana in Florida – Policies and Procedures:

Medical marijuana in Florida has been a hot topic since Surterra Therapeutics announced in August that it would open a wellness center and sell cannabis in the USF area of Tampa. Although the company planned only to sell medical marijuana low in THC, the approval by the Florida legislature set the precedent for this in 2014 by stipulating exactly what can be dispensed to cancer patients and patients with seizures who choose to utilize medical marijuana as part of their treatment regimens. It is also important to take note that Surterra Therapeutics plans to distribute a “higher grade” dosage to terminally ill patients after approval of another Florida law passed in early 2016. Surterra partners with Homestead-based Alpha Foliage and is one of 6 Florida approved companies regarding marijuana dispensing (to see the entire list visit the Florida Health Department’s website).

The question of whether to participate in the Medical Marijuana Dispensing Program is not what HCC wants to debate here. It is a fact that the laws have now allowed for this. It is also projected to be greatly expanded, increased and profitable. What HCC wants to stress is that if you choose to participate…. do it right! Obtain Pharmacy Consulting before you begin dispensing. Having Policies & Procedures in place will ensure that problems down the road will be reduced. Everyone agrees that the State will “closely observe” how the dispensing companies control supplies, document and keep records. As HCC has been saying for over 27 years: an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure!

Healthcare Consultants is a leading national Pharmacy Consulting company offering expertise in all areas of pharmacy consulting. Known for being one of the nation’s leading pharmacy staffing companies for over two decades, Healthcare Consultants has been in the business of Pharmacy Consulting for over 25 years now. HCC is in the business of helping pharmacists establish, run, improve and make their businesses profitable. HCC is known nationally as one of the industry leaders in providing a full range of professional pharmacy consultation services to its vast array of clients. Owned and operated by pharmacists, Healthcare Consultants can provide proven expertise and experience in all facets of pharmacy operations, including retail, hospital and specialty pharmacy venues.

No matter what your pharmacy consulting needs may be, you can be assured that the experienced HCC staff has helped others with the same issues before. Let HCC and their expert team of pharmacy consultants help you solve your problems too! In today’s environment of a constantly changing landscape in the pharmacy business, let an experienced, proven Pharmacy Consulting company provide you with the assistance you may need. We have a professional full-time staff of pharmacy consultants with a proven track record in every area of pharmacy operations.

Just a few of the pharmacy consulting services that HCC offers include:

– Pharmacy Performance and Efficiency Enhancements
– Pharmacy Business Management Consulting
– Pharmacy Business Planning
– Pharmacy Start-up Consulting and Implementation
– Interim Pharmacy Management
– Policy and Procedure Development and Review
– Compliance Review
– Pharmacy Exit Strategies

If you have questions regarding virtually any area of your pharmacy business or practice, we urge you to contact us today to see how our Pharmacy Consulting services can help. With a full-time staff of in-house Pharmacy Consultant specialists, HCC can answer any questions that you may have in all areas of your business. Call us today at 800-642-1652 for a free consultation.

 

 

 


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Pharmacist Salaries in the Best and Worst States for Healthcare

Pharmacist Salaries in the Best and Worst States for Healthcare:

Pharmacist salaries by state is a topic that comes up almost daily at Healthcare Consultants Pharmacy Staffing. As a national leader in the Pharmacy staffing industry for over 27 years, we consult with both Pharmacists and employers on what the rate in each state warrants. In a previous post, we had discussed some statistics and in studying the latest wage releases from the Bureau of Labor Statistics for 2014, we once again find that variables such as geography, population density, type of Pharmacy job, years of experience, etc. make the task of salary comparison an almost impossible job to complete. To make the decision regarding Pharmacist salaries even more complicated is a study recently published by WalletHub analysts that compared all 50 states and the District of Columbia based on 29 key metrics—including Healthcare professional’s salaries — to determine which states offer the most cost-effective and highest-quality care.

Based on those metrics, the states with the worst health care are: Alaska, Louisiana, Mississippi, Nevada, Arkansas, Georgia, West Virginia, Oklahoma, South Carolina and Alabama.
The states with the best health care include:
Minnesota, Maryland, South Dakota, Iowa, Utah, Kansas, Hawaii, Vermont,   District of Columbia and Nebraska.

So now the question of “Where Do I Want To Practice Pharmacy?” becomes even more complicated when choosing based on geographical considerations. Who wants to practice in a state known for both lower salaries and also known for a lower level of quality healthcare?
When deciding on where to practice, our professional and knowledgeable staff at HCC are a tremendous asset available to help guide you in making the right decision. We specialize in finding pharmacists the right job to meet their needs and skill sets. Known for being a full service pharmacy staffing agency, HCC has helped numerous pharmacists throughout the country find positions.

Healthcare Consultants Pharmacy Staffing has been known as a full service pharmacy staffing company since 1989. With all the services that we provide to both pharmacies and pharmacists, it it sometimes easy to overlook the fact the we are one of the nation’s most successful and respected staffing and placement firms in the pharmacy employment area. Pharmacy staffing and job placement are our primary business now for over 27 years. Healthcare Consultants Pharmacy Staffing deals with all aspects of matching pharmacists to jobs in every type of situation. This includes filling short term pharmacy positions and temporary jobs, as well as permanent and long term placements. We also can help with temp-to-permanent situations.
HCC can assist you in the process of finding the position that best suits your salary requirements, goals, personality and lifestyle. Call us today at 800-642-1652 for a free consultation and let us help you find the right job in the right setting and right state to achieve your goals as a Pharmacist!


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Strategic Planning for Pharmacies – Pharmacy Consulting

Strategic Planning for Pharmacies:

Pharmacy strategic planning for a pharmacy business or operation is crucial in today’s complicated world of business. Being prepared for new legislation and the constantly changing Pharmacy insurance issues makes strategic planning a must. Strategic planning and Pharmacy consulting is an area that most pharmacy owners don’t take advantage of until it is too late. Being in the business of Pharmacy strategic planning and consulting for over 25 years now, HCC has been stressing for decades that addressing and preventing issues before they occur is the key to avoiding future problems and bad publicity that pharmacies so frequently encounter these days. With the rise of social media, digital mass media and internet “real-time” news, our advice that the old cliché that “an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure” has never been more relevant.

Plan strategically for both the present and the future now. Consider getting professional Pharmacy Consulting now, before a crises occurs. With numerous laws and guidelines dictating pharmacy practice these days, many pharmacy owners are not even aware that they may perhaps even need help. Having an objective third party take a look at what you are doing and what your operational potential issues may be is a great way to prevent a future crises.

Healthcare Consultants has been in the business of Pharmacy Consulting for over 25 years now. Known as one of the nations leading full service Pharmacy Staffing companies, HCC is also one of the industry leaders in providing a full range of professional pharmacy consultation services to its vast array of clients. Owned and operated by pharmacists, Healthcare Consultants can provide proven expertise and experience in all facets of pharmacy operations, including retail, hospital and specialty pharmacy venues.

In today’s environment of a constantly changing landscape in the pharmacy business, let an experienced, proven Pharmacy Consulting company provide you with the assistance you may need. We have a professional full-time staff of pharmacists with a proven track record in every area of pharmacy operations. Just a few of the services that we offer include:

– Pharmacy Performance and Efficiency Enhancements
– Pharmacy Business Management Consulting
– Pharmacy Business Planning
– Pharmacy Start-up Consulting and Implementation
– Interim Pharmacy Management
– Policy and Procedure Development and Review
– Compliance Review
– Pharmacy Exit Strategies

If you have questions regarding virtually any area of your pharmacy business or practice, we urge you to contact us today to see how our Pharmacy Consulting services can help. With a full-time staff of in-house Pharmacy Consultant specialists, HCC can answer any questions that you may have in all areas of your business. Call us today at 800-642-1652 for a free consultation.


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Pharmacy Audits and Inspections – Be Prepared!

Pharmacy Audits and Inspections:

Pharmacy inspections and audits are a fact of life for every pharmacy. It is a safe assumption that your pharmacy will be audited at a minimum of every two years. In today’s world of computerization and Social Media, a bad outcome that is documented publicly can literally cost you tens of thousands of dollars. The bad publicity that we have seen many pharmacies experience can lead to lost patients and revenue that could have been avoided. The key to avoiding a bad inspection or audit? Be prepared!

Every licensed pharmacy is inspected by their Board of Pharmacy every year or two. Yet many pharmacies are still caught off guard and aren’t prepared or in compliance resulting in an unfavorable (and expensive!) outcome. More problematic are unanticipated regulatory state or DEA inspections. Add in the unexpected audits by a Pharmacy Benefits Manager (PBM) and it is no wonder that many pharmacy owners tell us that they have trouble sleeping at night! How does a pharmacy prepare for all this? The answer is HCC!

Pharmacy compliance audits assess a pharmacy’s level of compliance in regards to procedures stipulated by regulatory or contractual arrangements. Basically pharmacy compliance audits can be placed into two categories:

  1. Third Party Provider Audits – Every pharmacy that is a contract provider of prescription services is subject to a clause in its provider agreement that allows an audit of the pharmacy’s records, including hard-copy prescriptions, signature logs, computerized records of refills, and invoice records.
  2. Regulatory Agency Audits – Pharmacies obviously are subject to audits conducted by state or federal licensing agencies such as the DEA and State Board of Pharmacy.

HCC’s regulatory experts can perform mock inspections and identify areas of weakness and concern. Our consultants will, upon completion of the inspection, prepare a Gap Analysis and corrective recommendations and discuss these with you and your team. If significant issues are found, our consultants are available to assist in the implementation of the corrective actions and perform a re-inspection to confirm compliance.

Our experts are also available to review your prescription filling and billing processes to identify areas that may put you at risk of a payer audit and recoupment demands. HCC’s consultants will work with you and your team to correct areas of concern and develop risk mitigation strategies to prepare your pharmacy for the unexpected, but inevitable, audit.

Don’t wait until you get the audit notice or find the state inspector at your counter! Call HCC and be ready. With over 25 years of experience in dealing with pharmacy inspections and audits, let HCC help you be prepared. Eventually your pharmacy will be the subject of a pharmacy audit. Don’t let an audit notification be a crisis situation and threat to your pharmacy business. As the old cliché says: An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure. Contact us on line or call us today for a Free Consultation at 800-642-1652 to discuss how we can help.


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