Health Mart's Annual Meeting filled with optimism, encouragement at McKesson ideaShare 2013

LAS VEGAS — The pharmacy retail landscape may be growing increasingly competitive but independent pharmacy has an advantage — it’s in the sweet spot of providing quality patient care and personalized customer service, which independent pharmacy know how to do very well. That was a key message that new Health Mart president Steve Courtman had for attendees of the Health Mart Annual Meeting on Friday at McKesson ideaShare 2013.

“It’s a tough marketplace, but I firmly believe we can win together,” Courtman told the Health Mart owners who filled the conference room.

A major threat to independents is the increasing shift to preferred and performance-based pharmacy networks, Courtman noted, but that’s only if McKesson’s Health Mart owners are not a part of those networks. The key that will make Health Mart a continued success is harnessing McKesson’s scale and coupling that with each of the 3,100 Health Mart owner’s strong local presence to demonstrate that Health Mart is a destination for quality care.

But there’s a difference between saying and doing — and it was the doing that took center stage.

First, Courtman, who was appointed president in September 2012, helped redefine the landscape for independent operators.

Health Mart owners need to market their services aggressively in their local communities, Courtman said, “If we’re going to differentiate ourselves on care, we need to get the message out there and physicians are a very important stakeholder,” he said. “If you think about the transition of health care, the physician should be your payor. … If you look at an [Accountable Care Organization] world and you look at value-based reimbursement, physicians will be the ones making decisions,” he added.

“Our business is prescriptions and patients,” he added. So the strategy looking ahead is to help focus Health Mart owners on their business by growing prescriptions in the stores, leveraging local relationships and differentiating on care, both from a service-level perspective and as a clinical health savings component.

Chuck Wilson, VP Health Mart pharmacy operations, followed Courtman with strategies on how to grow that prescription base through adherence. Not only will a focus on adherence drive more dollars into the store — to the tune of $750 per patient per year — it will also help illustrate to health plans that independent pharmacists are ideal partners to provide quality care and help lower healthcare costs.

For example, Wilson walked Health Mart owners through each of the tools that are at their disposal — medication synchronization, medication therapy management, participation in the Sponsored Clinical Services network and behavioral coaching, pharmacy management software and new packaging solutions — to begin making a material impact on adherence today.

Wilson also walked owners through Health Mart’s new store design that increases the visibility of the pharmacist, simplifies operations and work flow and incorporates a private consultation room so pharmacists can engage their patients in more adherence counseling and clinical consultation services.

Elizabeth Estes, EVP, chief strategy officer at GA Communication, also suggested that Health Mart owners up their game when it comes to weaving social media into their pharmacy practice.

“The thing about social media, it’s not a zero sum game,” Estes told attendees. “It’s an extension of what you do,” she said. And with 74% of baby boomers today reporting that they use social media to help inform major buying decisions, social media will become a significant marketing tool when those boomers begin researching their health options.


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