Culture plays key role in pharmacy security
With the FBI estimating that U.S. robberies have caused $390 million in losses in 2015, one of the most important steps independent pharmacists can take for their businesses and customers is security. Thinking a pharmacy is immune from theft or robbery is one of the biggest misconceptions Cardinal Health’s Director of Security Jason Blumenauer, said — and he also notes that ensuring a secure pharmacy doesn’t have to break the bank.
“There are a lot of things that you can do that don't cost a lot of money to make sure you have a safe and productive environment within the pharmacy,” Blumenauer told Drug Store News, adding that owners should prioritize getting a security system as a vital step toward having a safe pharmacy.
But besides the security system, Blumenauer said that creating deterrents can work to a pharmacy’s advantage — from efforts as simple as placing measuring tape in the pharmacy entrance’s door seal to signage indicating that the pharmacy has a security camera. But he emphasized that any deterrents should be backed up by real measures.
“People think putting a fake dome up is going to deter crime, but it's actually the opposite,” he said, noting that potential robbers can tell whether a dome has wires connected to it, and that fake cameras create a liability problem. “If something were to happen in the store, and the police come and ask for the video, you’ve created a sense of false security for your customers and your staff, and sometimes that can backfire on you quickly and create major issues.”
A secure pharmacy, according to Blumenauer, goes beyond simply installing cameras or even having a state-of-the-art alarm system. In addition to pharmacy owners knowing their businesses’ footprint and the areas that a thief might exploit, it also requires getting staff involved. He said that such measures as ensuring that there is adequate staffing, making sure staff members are visible and monitoring areas of high risk should be part of a larger effort to train pharmacy team members to be on the look out for potential incidents.
More than that, security is something Blumenauer said should be an integral part of the pharmacy’s culture — which he acknowledged can be a challenge, as many business models don’t include security. But taking the time to plan a policy and share it with employees can be beneficial in the long-term, he said.
“Security itself is something you can't purchase. You can buy the most expensive system out there, and if you don't have a culture at the pharmacy that understands how to use that security and manage it, it's worthless,” he said. “Building a program that's utilized by everyone who works at the pharmacy is probably the most important thing you look for in a truly secured pharmacy.”
Staff from the Cardinal Health Security Solutions Program, with whom attendees can discuss securing their pharmacies, will be on hand on the show floor at Cardinal Health RBC 2017. There also are two continuing education courses centered on pharmacy security planned for Cardinal Health RBC 2017:
- July 26 – “Women in Pharmacy — security, risk and the law”
- July 29 – “Pharmacy Security: Are you really prepared for the what if?”
Continuity of service: Navigating the pharmacy selling and buying process
Pharmacy owners who are retiring or getting out of the business often face the question of what to do with their pharmacy. The solution that preserves the community business, while continuing to serve their patients, is to find an independent pharmacist buyer — which can be a daunting process.
“We feel that pharmacy is truly practiced in an independent pharmacy where the patient knows the pharmacist and the pharmacist knows the patient," John Fiacco, vice president of Pharmacy Transition Services at Cardinal Health told Drug Store News. "You want to have a choice of where you get your prescriptions filled and hopefully you make that choice based on service — and independents are known for their service."
Cardinal Health’s Pharmacy Transition Services team is built around helping pharmacy owners find a buyer to take over the business, preserve the pharmacy’s relationship with its patients and, if the new owner wants, directing them to a Medicine Shoppe or Medicap franchise business consultant to help further smooth the transition. Fiacco emphasized the seller should begin the process two to three years before they intend to sell.
“Certainly the more time the seller has to prepare the better. Owners should have an exit strategy in place and get everything in order,” Fiacco said. “The more time the owner has to put everything in order, the better the outcome for both buyer and seller.”
One of the key components of preparedness, he said, is making sure that a pharmacy’s financials are in order — not doing so is a common element that can derail a transition. Having a pharmacy’s financial house in order goes hand-in-hand with the seller assembling a team that includes accountants and an attorney, Fiacco said. In addition, the seller should set a realistic price for the pharmacy that not only a buyer will see as appropriate, but also will accomplish all of the seller’s goals and leave them debt-free.
But ultimately, many of these questions won’t matter if a pharmacy buyer doesn’t mesh well with the pharmacy staff. And while buyers can be found through cold calls, Fiacco said that his transition services team’s first job is to help pair buyers and sellers that they believe will be a good fit. For the Pharmacy Transition Services team, which doesn’t charge a fee for its services, finding two parties that are a good fit is a crucial part of the job — and he encouraged attendees of Cardinal Health RBC 2017 that are thinking about selling to meet members of the team on the show floor in San Antonio.
“If you’re coming to RBC and you’re thinking about selling your pharmacy, I encourage you to stop by and talk to a member of the Pharmacy Transition Services team,” he said. “We can answer questions and help with a valuation of the pharmacy.”
What motivates Pharmacy Transition Services is what motivates anyone who decides that their business and patients would be best served by keeping the independent pharmacy in the community.
“No. 1, there's continuity in your community — and some of these independent pharmacies have been around for a long time,” he said. “Rather than see that legacy go away, it would be continued. For your patients, for your community and for your staff, it's much better.”
Clinical services expand margins, improve patient health
As pharmacy margins continue to shrink a little each year, a pharmacist in Seattle has discovered how to expand pharmacy margins through the incorporation of clinical services from Cardinal Health while shrinking something else — her customers’ waistlines.
And it’s not just the overweight or obese this Seattle pharmacist is targeting — there are significant health gains that can be realized with the loss of 10 pounds whether a person is overweight or not. “There is a huge population out there who is well and wants to stay well,” Beverly Schaefer, owner of Katterman’s Sand Point Pharmacy, told Drug Store News. “Think about the people who I am attracting who don’t have chronic conditions,” she said. “It has the potential to bring in an entirely new client base — healthy people who want to stay healthy, and those people don’t often go to the drug store.”
Schaefer invested $10,000 in a medical grade body analysis scale that she uses to help educate and motivate her patients to make healthier choices in life. The scale conducts a full body analysis, including the measure of extracellular water, which is the water outside of your cells that represents roughly one-third of the fluid in a person’s body; intracellular water, which is the other two-thirds of fluid located within cells; visceral fat; and percentage of fat.
The cost of the 20-minute consultation is $49, and she expects to recoup her initial investment in the BMI scale by the end of the calendar year.
The populations who may be interested in such a clinical service are broad and diverse, Schaefer said, including seniors, extreme athletes, body builders and beach-goers — or, just about anyone who could stand to lose 10 pounds, which is just about everybody. “To lose 5% of your body weight, that drops your hemoglobin A1c, it has the potential to drop cholesterol levels, it has the potential to improve diabetes metrics,” Schaefer said. “I’m looking primarily at blood pressure, hypocholesterolemia and glucose,” she said. “For a person who weighed 200 lbs., losing 10 pounds would change all of those numbers.”
In addition to the cost of capturing BMI measurements and a consultation, Schaefer also is beefing up her front-end mix to support the weight-loss endeavor. “We’ve added a little bit of sports nutrition to our front end. We have protein bars, cleanse powders, protein powders,” she said. “We’re going slow. My customers will tell me what they want as we grow this service.”
By exploring clinical services through her partnership with Cardinal Health, Schaefer helped realize significant benefits to her pharmacy operation, she said. “It enhances our reputation for offering unique, cutting-edge patient services,” she noted. In addition to BMI, Katterman’s Sand Point Pharmacy offers a comprehensive travel vaccine service, which is another clinical service supported by an expanded selection of front-end products.
These expanded clinical services also drive increased engagement with local practitioners “with patient benefit being the focus of what we’re doing,” Schaefer added.