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McKesson’s ideaShare showcases innovation

BY Jim Frederick

LAS VEGAS — Three successful pharmacy innovators helped set a buoyant tone for the official kickoff of McKesson’s ideaShare 2012 conference here, as they shared success stories from their own community practice settings at a panel discussion hosted by Brian Tyler, president of McKesson U.S. Pharmaceutical.

The three pharmacy owners — Christine Jacobson of Wasatch Pharmacy Care in Ogden, Utah; Jonathan Brunswig of Scott City-Wichita County and J&J Health Mart Pharmacy in Kansas; and Loren Pierce of Wender & Roberts in Atlanta — are putting advanced concepts of patient care into practice within their pharmacies. Their depictions of clinical practice in such areas as disease management and monitoring, wellness and prevention, immunizations and compounding gave hundreds of attendees at the opening general session of ideaShare a hopeful glimpse of pharmacy’s potential as both a health profession and a revenue generator, beyond basic dispensing and counseling.

“As pharmacists our knowledge is very important, and people are willing to pay for that,” asserted Jacobson, who has built a thriving — and profitable — practice in disease management, preventive care and advanced counseling among patients in Utah.

Being in a care-giving profession, she said, means “you want to take care of everybody” who comes in the store with an ailment. Traditionally, said Jacobson, community pharmacists have offered that care for free, but pharmacy must evolve as a professional practice and break its dependence on the dispensing of medications as its sole means of compensation in order to survive.

Wasatch Pharmacy appears to have succeeded. “If my attorney can charge me for sending an email, I can certainly charge for my knowledge,” Jacobson asserted. She told attendees at the kickoff session that she charges patients $150 for in-depth counseling, and has a two-month backlog of appointments.
Tyler, who moderated the discussion, pointed to other forces that he said are boosting the status and visibility of pharmacists as vital health resources in their communities. Among them: the tidal wave of generic drug introductions now sweeping through the nation’s pharmacies as a series of blockbuster drugs lose patent protection. “We’re at the crest of a generic wave,” said McKesson Pharmaceutical’s president, noting that pharmacies that do the best job of offering those lower-priced, higher-margin medicines will gain the most in patient loyalty and profitability.

Pierce said that providing his patients with the “savings opportunity” afforded by those generics “makes us shine” with those patients.

Brunswig agreed. “Patients are very aware of it … they understand that when a generic comes out, they’re going to save money,” he said. With McKesson’s One Stop generic program, he added, “We know we can get that generic out quickly,” as soon as it becomes available.

In his opening address to attendees, Paul Julian, McKesson Corp. executive VP and group president, stressed the key role that independent pharmacists play in the nation’s health system, and the value of interaction among those pharmacists. “That’s the purpose of ideaShare,” he said, “to provide you with a forum to generate ideas together that can ultimately help you drive your business forward.”

McKesson is a powerful ally, Julian noted. The company now delivers a third of all medicines used daily in North America, with 99.998% accuracy. Its claims processing network touches 90% of U.S. retail pharmacies. And the company is set to open the largest distribution center in its history at the end of the summer: a 630,000-sq.-ft. behemoth in Olive Branch, Miss.

IdeaShare’s opening session also gave the company a chance to honor some exemplary practitioners of community pharmacy. Named Pharmacy of the Year with the Overall Excellence Award was Gateway Pharmacy South in Bismarck, N.D., which has won the passionate loyalty of local consumers with a highly personalized brand of patient care and services like compounding and clinical care. Company president Mark Aurit credited McKesson for its support of those services, and said it was the reason he joined the Health Mart pharmacy network.

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ideaShare draws best, brightest of independent pharmacy owners

BY Jim Frederick

LAS VEGAS — Owning and operating a community pharmacy has never been the easiest way to prosper in the healthcare field. But in the face of unrelenting reimbursement challenges, big-chain competition and the pressures imposed by powerful pharmacy benefit managers that dictate take-it-or-leave-it contracts covering the majority of patients and prescriptions, it’s a safe bet that the vast majority of independent and small-chain pharmacy owner/operators wouldn’t trade places with any other health professional.

 

That goes double for the thousands of independent pharmacists packing the Venetian Hotel’s conference center here for McKesson’s ideaShare 2012 event.

“I love independent pharmacy,” asserted Jonathan Marquess, an attendee and Health Mart franchisee who owns and operates four McKesson-supported pharmacies in suburban Atlanta. “It’s been very successful for me, and it’s provided for my family. I wouldn’t do it any other way.”

Marquess and other attendees represent the cream of the crop of independent pharmacists – among the most motivated, the most innovative and the most passionate in their commitment to patient well-being and their concern for the future of the pharmacy profession. They’ve come to Las Vegas to express that concern, to share best practices with their peers, and to learn how best to confront the myriad of challenges posed by tight-fisted third-party payers, shrinking government expenditures for Medicare and Medicaid, and a healthcare system under severe duress and in desperate need of new solutions to patient access and affordability.

McKesson’s annual gathering of pharmacy owner/operators offers a rare chance to do all that, say attendees and panelists. “McKesson gives us so many opportunities … to do a lot of good business with our colleagues here,” noted Christine Jacobson, owner of Wasatch Pharmacy Care in Ogden, Utah.

Attendees also are looking to McKesson for answers. The event doesn’t let them down: ideaShare 2012 features dozens of expert-led sessions, including Continuing Education courses, a Public Policy Forum and an Ownership Transfer Luncheon, along with the Health Mart annual meeting. Also on tap: targeted interactive seminars to help pharmacies increase efficiency and profitability, with special emphasis on clinical services, reimbursement, front-end solutions, marketing, technology and pharmacy operations.

To Larry Hadley, co-owner of Wayne’s Pharmacy in Frankfort, Ky., ideaShare provides “the opportunity to see all the latest technology, solutions and tools that [McKesson] has, which will help me be more effective and more efficient in running my business.”

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Interesting snippets and products from the last Marketplace show — ever

BY Michael Johnsen

DENVER — This will be the last time I walk an NACDS Marketplace floor. Ever. I’m done.

Because next year, it will be the Total Store Expo, and I’m already getting a little jazzed about that. Here’s my thought process — is there an opportunity in sitting down with a retail pharmacy operation team along with an OTC buying team and exploring possible synergies between the two? Is there a value-add already built into this meeting?

I’ve been talking to quite a few of you on the supplier side. Some of you thought along the same lines (Can it happen?) and some of you perked up to the inherent potential (Will it happen?). And yes, some of you even expressed doubts (Should it happen?).

But I think it should happen. If for nothing else, to raise awareness across pharmacy operations around the full breadth of product offerings available just in front of the pharmacy counter. And with this meeting happening on an annual basis, it also will be an opportunity to inform the pharmacy operations teams on new product launches and line extensions even as they are being sold into the stores.

But I think more would come out of these meetings if the pharmacy and OTC teams sat at the same table, and I think it coincides with the direction that many pharmacy operators already are beginning to take in providing more services and information touch points in front of the pharmacy bench — you know, where the patient lives.

That’s a year away, yet. For now, let me share some snippets around some of the products and suppliers I found interesting making my last walkthroughs on the Marketplace show floor. Ever.

TheraPearl launched a licensed line of its hot and cold packs bearing the NFL Player’s Association seal. This is unique — it will be the only product in the healthcare space that can place the NFLPA symbol on its packaging.

A new company, Cancer in Plain English, featured an audio CD for newly diagnosed cancer patients. The audio was put together by an oncologist — and founder of the company — and provides cancer-specific information to patients in search of answers. Beyond CD sales, I think that could serve as an entry point into the pharmacist as that newly diagnosed cancer patient’s healthcare advocate.

Another new company, UrgentRx, fielded a whole line of flavored OTC remedies in powder formulation. The remedies represent a convenience proposition with only one dose per packet — which is flat — and a value proposition at only $1.39 suggested retail price, as compared with other single-dose OTC remedies.

Great idea for the convenience channel right? Except that’s not how they’re going to market. For example, they have an emergency aspirin dose (325 mg) that’s being carried by emergency medical technicians in 31 states. Beyond the checkstand, it may be a good proposition in sporting goods departments, too.

And Tattoo Goo, over at the Greenwood Group booth, looked interesting, too. It’s an after-care line of products for someone who just got a tattoo. And considering that tattoos today are not as taboo as they once were, this represents an incremental opportunity and a steady trip driver as one of the products is indicated to maintain the color of a tattoo if used regularly. And it sounds like it’s going into first aid sets, which makes a lot of sense. Today, tattoo artists recommend their clients apply a healthy dose of A & D ointment to their new tattoos.

There’s plenty of additional interesting products out there, I’m sure. Any thoughts or comments around the products I identified or around Total Expo meeting synergies, please drop me a line at [email protected]!

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[email protected] says:
Jun-27-2012 07:58 pm

Agreed! UrgentRx really made a statement at Marketplace and showed what innovation is all about. Great branding, great product.

D.BIERNBAUM says:
Jun-26-2012 10:27 am

Congratulations to Jordan Eisenberg and his team at Urgent Rx, an exciting new brand that I had the pleasure of consulting last year. This is a winner! www.biernbaum.com

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