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Health Mart empowers pharmacists, students for RxOwnership

BY Michael Johnsen

ORLANDO, Fla. — McKesson’s RxOwnership group hosted its seventh annual Ownership Transfer Luncheon on Tuesday, where attendees interested in either acquiring an independent pharmacy operation, or selling one, could learn more about the programs and support available. 

“We all have a universal interest in independent pharmacy, but the industry has changed,” noted Bob Graul, national VP RxOwnership at McKesson. “We have far more pressures than we used to have. Regulatory issues and requirements are growing. Clinical outcomes are becoming more important; we have to change the way we practice so that we stay current and relevant.”

Limited networks and competition from both chains and mail order also pose their challenges, Graul added.

“Because of this we’re seeing a big shift in the ownership ranks,” he said, noting that as many as 10,000 independent locations will change hands in the next 10 years. Today, 24% of independent pharmacy operators own more than one location, and there are more independents opening than there are closing.

McKesson, back in 2007, made a decision to invest in this segment and since then,the RxOwnership program has helped 2,172 pharmacies either transition or open, Graul said.

RxOwnership focuses on three core areas to help independent pharmacists either buy, sell or build a community pharmacy, including such comprehensive resources as local market intelligence and step-by-step guidance; individualized matching services to help match buyers and sellers (for students, that includes identifying internship and junior-equity opportunities); and financing options along with valuations and/or inventory credit.

McKesson on Tuesday also hosted a number of events supporting new pharmacy specifically designed for area pharmacy school students, including students from McWhorter School of Pharmacy at Samford University, The University of Florida Gainesville College of Pharmacy and the University of South Florida College of Pharmacy. The students were on hand to learn about independent pharmacy as a career choice during two educational sessions, and were invited to attend the Ownership Transfer Luncheon.

Christopher Cella, VP RxOwnership for the Northeast Region at McKesson, hosted a continuing education course that provided an overview of the requirements and process of opening a new pharmacy from the ground up, starting with the business plan. And pharmacy owners don’t do it alone, Cella said. They align themselves with three key team members, including legal counsel, an accountant and an insurance agent.

Financing is a key consideration, as is location. Cella shared a number of tips in identifying target locations, including contacting an area Chambers of Commerce to learn about potential communities with a need for an independent pharmacy, in addition to speaking with wholesalers like McKesson.

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KEY LEARNING: Health Mart University Live sessions focus on pharmacy success

BY Antoinette Alexander

ORLANDO, Fla. — Fresh from Tuesday morning’s Health Mart Annual Meeting at 2014 McKesson ideaShare, attendees eagerly gathered to take part in the Health Mart University Live sessions that addressed key topics for independent pharmacy success.

Highlights from Tuesday’s session include:

  • “Pharmacy Quality Measures: Know Your Numbers.” During this course, speaker Randy McDonough, co-owner and director of clinical services at Towncrest, Solon Towncrest and Towncrest Compounding Pharmacy, discussed the importance of pharmacy quality measures in today’s evolving healthcare landscape. The healthcare system is moving away from a fee-for-service model, and new and emerging payment models are shifting the risk from payers to providers. While pharmacies may not receive a Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Star rating, their performance related to the quality measures is no doubt evaluated by plans. That is why it is important for pharmacies to understand the Star ratings and those measures that pharmacies can impact. This session is an extension of the 100 Town Hall meetings conducted across the country to help pharmacies recognize the importance of the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid’s Five-Star Quality Ratings and improving their store’s performance. Health Mart also has partnered with Pharmacy Quality Solutions (PQS) to provide franchisees access to PQS EQuIPP pharmacy performance data so they can understand their current performance on medication-related Medicare Part D Star ratings measures.
  • “Marketing ideaExchange.” During this session, pharmacists participated in interactive, roundtable discussions to share ideas and learn about the marketing efforts that have worked for their fellow pharmacists. To help get the conversation started, participants were given cards that listed various marketing ideas, such as wine tasting events, Girl Scout cookie destinations, vehicle wraps and social media. Each card featured a QR code that participants could scan to learn more if they were interested. During Monday’s McKesson ideaShare opening general session, guest speaker Elizabeth Estes, chief idea officer of Ebus Innovation, also talked about success in marketing. One example Estes shared was Jamestown Health Mart Pharmacy in Jamestown, Pa., which found success by promoting their Care-Fill custom medication packaging as a way to make taking medications easier and a way that customers can help keep loved ones safe and independent with the individually sealed, easy-to-open medication packets.
  • “Beyond Knowing Your Numbers: Action Steps to Drive Quality Performance Improvement.” During this session, Tony Willoughby, Health Mart chief pharmacist, moderated a panel discussion that centered on quality improvement activities. Panelists included Tim Davis, owner/pharmacist of Beaver Health Mart Pharmacy; Omar Eliwa, manager of clinical pharmacy services at Hayat Pharmacy; Lisa Umfleet, owner of Parkland Health Mart Pharmacy; and Shelley Bailey, owner of Central Drugs. During the discussion, panelists talked about the steps they’ve taken within their pharmacies. For example, Umfleet talked about medication synchronization. When getting started, Umfleet suggested that pharmacies align their staff and cast the vision; obtain patient consent; pick appointment/synch days based on the anchor medication or date; and short fill meds to synch to appointment day. Meanwhile, Eliwa spoke about medication therapy management and gaps in care. How do you build an MTM program? Assign the program to a capable pharmacist and capable technician; support the team with specific uninterrupted working hours; invest in the team requests to deliver aspired results; and send your team to a peer pharmacy willing to show you their MTM program, Eliwa suggested.
  • “Patient Shift: Google, Mobile and Digital Platforms and Their Efforts on Your Customers.” During this course, Elizabeth Estes, keynote speaker at Monday’s opening general session, shared content ideas and other best-in-class examples that pharmacies could immediately put to use on today’s social and digital platforms. Some tips that Estes shared with attendees included: Create a video and post it on YouTube, as videos are great for improving search engine visibility, but be sure to also close caption it with text and add keywords; use Twitter as a listening platform; create a Google+ page; and leverage Facebook advertising to market directly to those within your community with specific needs and interests. Estes also reminded attendees to focus on content first, platforms second. The best content is not about the pharmacy, but is about what the pharmacy can do for patients.
     

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Rexall selects Allstream to design telecom system

BY David Salazar

TORONTO — Canadian drug store chain Rexall has chosen Toronto-based communications company Allstream to design a telecommunication system for the company.

The system that Allstreams develops — which will integrate both data and voice infrastructure to deliver information quickly — will link Rexall's 448 Canadian stores.

"Allstream understood that with the right technology we can improve our customers' experience in each of our store,” Rexall’s senior IT and financial systems director, Ahmed Shariff, said. “Allstream studied our business, learned our needs and delivered a plan for a scalable end-to-end telecommunications solution that will allow us to unlock hidden value in our technology infrastructure.  This will also allow us to acquire and implement new technologies faster than ever before, especially as we grow."

The two companies worked together to plan a system that would integrate new technology while securing customers’ data.

"In such a competitive retail environment, companies like Rexall look to Allstream for innovative solutions that will differentiate them in the marketplace,” Allstream VP, national sales, Edith Cloutier said. “Our solution will free them up to focus even more on being a customer-focused and award-winning retailer."

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