Frequently Asked Questions

What is Pharmacy Quality Commitment™ (PQC™™)?

What is a Patient Safety Organization (PSO)?

How does an organization become a PSO?

What is the Alliance for Patient Medication Safety?

Will health care providers or entities that report patient safety information to PSOs face increased risk of legal liability or sanctions?

My third party contract requires that I have a quality assurance (QA) program

Support with Third Party Requirements

Will it be difficult for a pharmacy to implement?

Does my pharmacy need to buy computer hardware or software to use PQC™™?

My pharmacy is a compounding pharmacy.  Will PQC™™ meet my QA needs?

What kind of training and support is available?

Are there other reasons to use this program?                                                                 

How  do I order Pharmacy Quality Commitment™?

How much does the program cost?

How long does it take to process the order?

Do you have to order the system via the internet?

What support exists after purchase?

Frequently Asked Questions about “Active” status with PQC™

I have just purchased and received the PQC™ program materials, when will my pharmacy be considered “Active?”

Our pharmacy has been considered “Active” but we did not report data last week, will we lose our “Active” status?

What if our pharmacy doesn’t have any QREs to report for more than three weeks?

Will APMS help me to remember to report?

What is the definition of a “week” for purposes of determining if a pharmacy is reporting “at least one time per week?”

Our pharmacy was “Active,” now it isn’t.  What do we have to do to get our “Active” status back?


What is Pharmacy Quality Commitment™ (PQC™)?
PQC™™ is a continuous quality assurance program for pharmacies. It promotes a non-punitive, team-oriented work environment. The program strives to reduce medication errors in the pharmacy by offering structured methods for improvement and a feedback system that allows the pharmacist to elevate the quality of patient care by reporting and then analyzing the weak processes in the workflow of the pharmacy.  Since data is reported to a patient safety organization (PSO), the pharmacy is assured federal protections from legal discovery for the reported quality assurance data.

PQC™™ enables a pharmacy to identify and document quality-related events (QREs) and analyze these events against a best-practices workflow.  The pharmacy will collect all QREs (near misses, unsafe conditions, and errors that reach the patient, whether they caused harm or not) on a simple report form, and then enter the data into a password protected, web-based PQC™™ portal at the end of the day or directly enter this information in real time. The report form collects where in the process the quality-related event was caught and corrected, the type of quality-related event (ie: wrong drug), where it was made, and whether or not it reached the patient.  Each QRE takes under a minute to report. Once reported online, the pharmacist is able, with the click of the mouse, to review customized charts and graphs showing trends and information about the data they entered.  They are then able to track medication errors and quality failures within the pharmacy and work to establish plans for improvement.

Pharmacies that license the PQC™ program and report quality-related events are now provided federal legal protection to information that is reported through the Alliance for Patient Medication Safety(APMS) - a patient safety organization or PSO. PQC™™ pharmacies will also receive recommendations on best practices and workflow processes to help reduce medication errors, improve medication use and enhance patient safety and health outcomes.

What is a Patient Safety Organization (PSO)?
The Patient Safety and Quality Improvement Act (PSQIA) of 2005 established PSOs. PSOs are public-private entities, recognized by the Secretary of Health and Human Services, to collect and analyze quality-related events (near misses, unsafe conditions, and incidents that reach the patient) reported by pharmacists and other healthcare providers. They are designed to improve the quality and safety of healthcare by encouraging and facilitating voluntary reporting.  The hope is that the more providers share information about quality-related events, the more proactive they can be about prevention and elimination of future near misses and errors.
           
PSOs operate independently, without a relationship with regulatory and/or accrediting bodies. They are bound by confidentiality provisions which require that all data reported will remain secure within the patient safety evaluation system. This confidentiality is governed by strict federal rules and regulations. Patient safety work product (PSWP) is the name for information reported by the healthcare provider to a PSO that is protected by the privilege and confidentiality protections. Subject to certain specific exceptions, PSWP may not be used in criminal, civil, administrative, or disciplinary proceedings. A patient's original medical record, billing and discharge information, and any other original patient or provider records cannot become PSWP. However, copies of selected parts of original provider records may become PSWP.

PSOs overcame a key barrier that pharmacists have cited in reporting quality-related events; the fear of discovery and subsequent damage to legal defense cases.  Quality-related event data reported to an approved PSO is protected from discovery, at both the state and federal level.  The PSQIA ensures that health care providers will not face any additional liability as a result of their participation in patient safety activities. Pharmacists can now report data to a PSO, evaluate it, and implement plans for improvement in their pharmacy, and be assured that the data shared and studied is legally protected.

How does an organization become a PSO?
A PSO is an entity or a component of another organization (component organization) that is listed by AHRQ based upon a self-attestation by the entity or component organization that it meets certain criteria established in the PSQIA regulations.
The primary activity of an entity or component organization seeking to be listed as a PSO must be to conduct activities to improve patient safety and health care quality. A PSO's workforce must have expertise in analyzing patient safety events, such as the identification, analysis, prevention, and reduction or elimination of the risks and hazards associated with the delivery of patient care. More detailed information about PSOs can be found at http://www.pso.ahrq.gov/psos/fastfacts.htm

What is the Alliance for Patient Medication Safety?
The Alliance for Patient Medication Safety (APMS) is a federally listed PSO that was established in August 2008 by the National Alliance of State Pharmacy Associations (NASPA).  It is listed by Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality (AHRQ) confirming that it meets certain criteria established in the PSQIA. 

The mission of the APMS is to foster a culture of quality within the profession of pharmacy that promotes a continuous systems analysis to develop best practices that will reduce medication errors, improve medication use, and enhance patient care. Among other services and tools, APMS offers a continuous quality improvement program called Pharmacy Quality Commitment™ (PQC™™).  PQC™™ provides an easy to use, turn-key, continuous quality improvement solution for pharmacies that also provides the benefit of a PSO.
As required by the PSQIA, pharmacies reporting through PQC™™ will also receive recommendations on best practices and workflow processes to help reduce medication errors, improve medication use and enhance patient safety and health outcomes.

Will health care providers or entities that report patient safety information to PSOs face increased risk of legal liability or sanctions?
Most health care providers strongly believe in active participation in ongoing efforts to improve the safety, quality, and outcomes of the patient care they provide. All too often, however, their participation places them at increased liability because the information that they report or develop could be used against them in litigation or proceedings before professional licensure boards or accreditation agencies. The PSQIA ensures that health care providers will not face any additional liability as a result of their participation in patient safety activities. The product of their efforts will be subject to uniform Federal confidentiality and privilege protections so that health care providers are confident that PSWP may only be disclosed as prescribed in the Patient Safety Rule.

My third party contract requires that I have a quality assurance (QA) program.
More and more health plans are asking network pharmacies for documentation of the quality assurance program - or medication safety practice program - that the pharmacy uses.  The PQC™™ program is used by over 2,500 pharmacies, it is affordable and easy-to-use, and provides your pharmacy with critically important data you can use to enhance the safety of your operations.  PQC™™ provides you with a QA program that you need to meet contract requirements.  A significant added bonus is that data provided to APMS is legally protected under federal law. Pharmacies will receive recommendations on best practices and workflow processes to help reduce medication errors, improve medication use and enhance patient safety and health outcomes. If you are collecting and analyzing patient safety data is it critical that your program offers legal protections.

Support with Third Party Requirements
Managed care organizations, regulatory bodies or other entities may require that a pharmacy demonstrate active participating in a QA program.  Pharmacies that use PQC™™ and report quality-related events to APMS can generate an “active” certificate without having to share their patient safety activities. 

What does a pharmacy physically receive once they enroll in the PQC™™ program?
They will receive a PQC™™ manual and introductory material. The package includes the pharmacy’s unique user name and password to access their secure, web-based reporting portal as well as implementation guidance and training resources.

Will it be difficult for a pharmacy to implement?
The program is easily implemented into the pharmacy day-to-day operations.  The pharmacy designates one person as the “Quality Supervisor”. This can be a pharmacist or a lead technician.  That person will learn the program and will be the champion for quality improvement and peer review in the pharmacy. The program can be introduced on a step by step process over a period of weeks. It folds right into daily operations and soon becomes standard procedure.

Does my pharmacy need to buy computer hardware or software to use PQC™?
PQC™™ does not require you to download or install any software.  PQC™™ is a web-based program that does not require the pharmacy to purchase special computer hardware.  Minimum requirements include an Internet connection, a PC-based computer and a web browser such as Internet Explorer or Mozilla Firefox.  All analytic graphs, reports and documents are designed to display on the computer screen, but these can also be printed, if desired.

My pharmacy is a compounding pharmacy.  Will PQC™ meet my QA needs?
Yes. PQC™™ includes a special module for tracking quality-related events for compounded products.

What kind of training and support is available?
PQC™™ provides training and support in a variety of ways.  There are downloadable training power point programs and the pharmacy is able to schedule free live web casts and or conference training calls. For questions and day-to-day operation queries a toll free support number and internet support is provided during business hours.

Are there other reasons to use this program?
Professional and ethical: It should be the goal of all pharmacists to improve patient safety through implementation of a continuous quality improvement program. When quality is a focus, pharmacy practice is enhanced and the quality of care provided to patients is elevated to a higher level.
State requirements:  Some states have quality assurance (QA) requirements. A strong QA program is good practice even if not “required” by the state.  Some states have strong peer review legal protections but others do not. It is a good idea to report quality related events to a patient safety organization as it provides federal legal protection for the reported data.
Federal: The National Patient Safety and Quality Improvement Act was signed in 2005. It set forth protections for activities of patient safety organizations. PQC™™ is covered under these new regulations under the patient safety organization Alliance for Patient Medication Safety.
Medicare Requirements: Medicare and many Medicare participating MA-PDs and PDPs are requiring pharmacies to have a QA or safe medication practices process in place in their pharmacies.
Business Policy: Use of a continuous quality improvement process lowers risk of potential mistakes and errors. Some insurance companies require for issuance of Business Owner Policies.
Reduction of errors saves time and money: Making mistakes costs time to correct each error and the time spent correcting an error translates to lost opportunity cost (time that you could be doing something else) and a drop in production. By tracking quality-related events one can analyze where they are occurring. This results in a better handle on workflow and that enables the pharmacist to make alterations in daily routines that reduces the number of quality-related events. A system that reduces the frequency and severity of adverse medication use and reduces the time involved correcting errors that occur results in higher quality care for the patient as well as savings in lost production time for a pharmacy.

How  I order Pharmacy Quality Commitment™?
Click on the Order button.  A screen will appear that asks purchaser to comply with the terms of purchase. Once the terms are accepted, you are brought to the order page where  you are asked to supply a identifying password for the order, contact information, pharmacy name, pharmacist name, address of pharmacy, telephone number, email address and credit card information. Once all of the above is entered, the order will be confirmed and sent to processing.  The pharmacy will usually receive the manual and login information within a week.

How much does the program cost?
The program costs $300 for the first year and $200 each year to renew.

How long does it take to process the order?
Orders are processed within a few days and pharmacies receive the manual and login information in about a week.

Do you have to order the system via the internet?
It is preferable that the sales come in via the internet – but we are happy to receive orders over the phone.

What support exists after purchase?
Our office is open M-F 9 am to 5 pm (Eastern time) toll free at (866) 365-7472 and we can be reached at info@PQC.net with questions. We reach out to our clients several times each year via email, calls and newsletters. Individualized web based training for your pharmacy is also available at no extra charge.

I have just purchased and received the PQC™ program materials, when will my pharmacy be considered “Active?”
It will likely take some time for you to establish the PQC™ program with the entire team in your pharmacy.  Your pharmacy will be deemed to be “Active” after you have implemented the program and reported QRE data using APMS’s Quality Manager online  reporting system at least one time per week for three consecutive weeks.

Our pharmacy has been considered “Active” but we did not report data last week, will we lose our “Active” status?
As long as you do not go for three consecutive weeks without reporting any data using APMS’s Quality Manager online reporting system, your pharmacy will continue to be reported as being “Active.”

What if our pharmacy doesn’t have any QREs to report for more than three weeks?
First, APMS recommends that you review your tracking process to make sure reportable QREs are not being missed or going untracked.  Second, if you do not have any QRE’s to report, you should still report “Nothing to report” using APMS’s online Quality Manager system.

Will APMS help me to remember to report?
As a PQC™ subscriber, your pharmacy will receive a great deal of support and encouragement from APMS.  In addition to communications and support to help you get started, Active pharmacies will receive email reminders if they are in danger of losing their Active status.

What is the definition of a “week” for purposes of determining if a pharmacy is reporting “at least one time per week?”
Monday is considered to be the first day of a new week, with Sunday being the last day of each reporting week.

Our pharmacy was “Active,” now it isn’t.  What do we have to do to get our “Active” status back?
A pharmacy will be reported to be an “Active” pharmacy after it has reported QRE data using APMS’s Quality Manager online reporting system at least one time per week for three consecutive weeks