McKesson ideaShare 2013 shines spotlight on vitality, opportunities within retail pharmacy during opening general session

LAS VEGAS — May you live in exciting times. And if you make your business in healthcare or retail pharmacy, you most certainly are — in "an exciting dynamic time," Mark Walchirk, president of McKesson U.S. Pharmaceutical, told attendees of Thursday afternoon's Opening General Session, marking the official start of McKesson ideaShare 2013.

The market is certainly looking up, Walchirk said. And so is independent pharmacy. “[Community pharmacy] is obviously a thriving marketplace — we continue to see new stores come into existence.”

The aging population continues to provide a strong foundation for that growth, but it will be the services and capabilities provided by community pharmacy operations that represents the real growth opportunity.

A larger population participating in health care courtesy of healthcare reform will do more than drive incremental prescription growth. That reform also will help drive outcomes-based medicine, and community pharmacy is well positioned to drive healthcare savings by ensuring patients stay adherent and compliant with their therapies. “Just small increases in adherence and compliance with medications can drive significant growth in the marketplace,” Walchirck said.

Of the challenges facing the industry, changing reimbursement ranks high, Walchirk said. Combined with declining reimbursement rates, community pharmacies must learn how to collaborate to participate in preferred and performance-based networks.

As this shift from a fee-for-service system to a performance-based healthcare model based on delivered value continues, McKesson expressed its committed to helping customers take advantage of emerging reimbursement opportunities by investing in new offerings designed to improve medication adherence and patient outcomes. “In reality, independent community pharmacy is positioned very well … you have the opportunity with the tremendous relationships you have in your community and with your patients to be more of a caregiver or provider versus simply filling prescriptions,” he said.

“Specialty medicine is another significant opportunity for community pharmacy – a real emerging market for retail pharmacy and we are in conversations with a number of business partners to have a more comprehensive approach [to specialty pharmacy],” Walchirk said.

Following Walchirk, Frank Starn, SVP and COO, McKesson U.S. Pharmaceutical, recognized Parkland Health Mart Pharmacy as the 2013 Pharmacy of the Year. "[The Pharmacy of the Year honor] is about maximizing local relationships, to position [the] store as a true healthcare destination,” Starn said. As part of the honor, McKesson made a $2,500 donation to the St. Louis College of Pharmacy.

The Opening General Session concluded with futurist David Houle delivering the keynote presentation. Houle identified a number of “dynamic flows” within the healthcare space on which independent pharmacy can capitalize. For example, healthcare is primed to transition from a disease treatment system to a disease prevention system, and community pharmacy is already positioned on the forefront of educating their patients around wellness. “In the next three to four years most Americans — a lot of them educated by you — will begin to understand the benefits of prevention,” he said.

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