The use of think-aloud protocols to identify a decision-making process of community pharmacists aimed at improving CMS Star Ratings scores

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Background:The Center for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) created the Star Rating system based on multiple measures that indicate the overall quality of health plans. Community pharmacists can impact certain Star Ratings measure scores through medication adherence and patient safety interventions.Objective:To explore methods, needs, and workflow issues of community pharmacists to improve CMS Star Ratings measures.Methods:Think-aloud protocols (TAPs) were conducted with active community retail pharmacists in Oklahoma. Each TAP was audio recorded and transcribed to documents for analysis. Analysts agreed on common themes, illuminated differences in findings, and saturation of the data gathered. Methods, needs, and workflow themes of community pharmacists associated with improving Star Ratings measures were compiled and organized to exhibit a decision-making process. Five TAPs were performed among three independent pharmacy owners, one multi-store owner, and one chain-store administrator.Results:A thematically common 4-step process to monitor and improve CMS Star Ratings scores among participants was identified. To improve Star Ratings measures, pharmacists: 1) used technology to access scores, 2) analyzed data to strategically set goals, 3) assessed individual patient information for comprehensive assessment, and 4) decided on interventions to best impact Star Ratings scores. Participants also shared common needs, workflow issues, and benefits associated with methods used in improving Star Ratings.Conclusion:TAPs were useful in exploring processes of pharmacists who improve CMS Star Ratings scores. Pharmacists demonstrated and verbalized their methods, workflow issues, needs, and benefits related to performing the task. The themes and decision-making process identified to improving CMS Star Ratings scores will assist in the development of training and education programs for pharmacists in the community setting.HighlightsPharmacy can impact Star Ratings scores by improving medication adherence and patient safety scores.Pharmacists can improve Star Ratings scores but literature lacks descript methods for this task in the community setting.Five community pharmacists were observed via think-aloud protocols to identify processes, needs, and workflow issues.A decision-making process to improve Star Ratings measures was identified from a compilation of themes discovered.Thematic analysis revealed other themes associated with needs, workflow issues, and benefits.

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