Technology and the independent operator
For Tom Davis, co-owner of Kiowa Health Mart Pharmacy, in Eads, Colo., technology has always been critical to the operation. “We put in our first pharmacy system in 1982. At the time, we may have been one of the first systems in Colorado, to be honest,” Davis told DSN.
Davis, a 38-year pharmacy veteran — 25 years with Health Mart — essentially organizes technology into 1-of-3 buckets:
- Technology that makes it easier for the patient — today, there are eight different ways for a prescription to reach his store, versus just two, when he first opened in 1982;
- Technology that improves store operations — Davis uses McKesson’s Reimbursement Advantage program to stay compliant with Medicare and PBM requirements, and recently added PatientLink, which provides patient information on all medications and helps boost adherence; and
- Technology that improves profits — Davis puts a lot of focus on driving front-end profitability. He uses sales reports generated by department, which he can compare against purchase orders in McKesson Connect to better manage front-end profitability per sq. ft. — much like the big chains do.
Physician Outreach builds script counts
There are many ways a pharmacy operation can measure success; the most basic is to fill more prescriptions today than yesterday.
Ryan Merrell, head of marketing for Spence’s Pharmacy, a Health Mart pharmacy in Logan, Utah, is among many independent pharmacies who are using McKesson’s Physician Outreach Program to do just that by benchmarking total prescription share against their local market and helping to identify and build relationships with high prescribers in their areas — in real time.
According to a recent McKesson study, Physician Outreach subscribers have experienced a 1.8% average increase in fills after using it for more than 6 months, with the most active subscribers experiencing up to a 7% increase.
One area in which Spence’s has been able to establish an important niche is in compounding. “With Physician Outreach, I’m able to easily identify the prescribers whose patients will benefit from our compounding services,” said Merrell, a licensed pharmacy technician since the age of 15 years. “As a result, we’ve doubled the number of compounding scripts we [filled] in the past year.”
Parkland Health Mart earns Pharmacy of the Year Award
Quantity and quality: Those are the two metrics by which any pharmacy operation is measured — quantity of prescriptions dispensed and quality of services provided. Quantity keeps you in business; quality keeps your patients coming back.
It’s a constant challenge for a small operator to score high on both metrics, but that’s exactly what McKesson’s 2013 Pharmacy of the Year Award recipient Parkland Health Mart Pharmacy, of Desloge, Mo., has done.
Parkland Health Mart Pharmacy, owned and operated by Lisa Umfleet, was recognized with the McKesson Pharmacy of the Year honor for excelling across a broad range of pharmacy services catering to a community of 5,000-plus residents. The best-in-class services include comprehensive medication therapy management, medication synchronization, 340B support (i.e., a government program that promotes access to affordable medicines), Medicare Part D counseling, diabetes counseling, immunizations, long-term care service and delivery service.
Umfleet recently remodeled and expanded her Parkland Health Mart store, with new features like an area for private consultations and immunizations. Additionally, the pharmacy has embraced McKesson technology and automation solutions to help build and diversify its patient base, as well as to improve accuracy and speed of service metrics.
Umfleet has been operating her independent pharmacy as a Health Mart since 2009. “What I originally was looking for with the Health Mart model was the brand identity. But I have gained so much more that I wasn’t expecting,” she said. “The services they offer, such as the claims reconciliation, the interface between the pharmacy computer system and the generics program — I don’t have to spend my time manually managing these tasks.”
For example, Umfleet noted that before joining Health Mart, she had to dedicate one full-time staff member to reconciling claims. “Now we just get an exceptions report. … There are a lot of time savers, which turn into dollar savings.”
Over the past six months alone, Parkland sales are up 30%, Umfleet told DSN. She credits much of that to the efficiencies driven by McKesson’s support services, which help lift the quantity of prescriptions dispensed so she can focus on quality and frequency of patient engagement.
“By utilizing McKesson’s services and products, our pharmacy staff is able to devote more time to providing excellent patient care,” Umfleet said. “For example, we started doing medication synchronization probably four years ago. But really what happens is, once you sync up these patients, it gives you more time to spend with your patient. It helps drive compliance and adherence while you’re doing synchronization, and it helps you with your workflow and efficiency.”
Another program Umfleet considers key to her pharmacy’s success has been McKesson’s suite of marketing solutions. “Before I was with Health Mart, I was having to spend a lot of my time writing ads or talking to people about advertising,” she said. “It just took me away from being able to focus on my business. So having the marketing toolkit and the templates right there, it’s just a huge time saver, and it gives us that professional image.”
Umfleet also utilizes McKesson’s Physician Outreach Program, which measures what percentage of prescriptions written by local doctors is being captured by the independent operation. “It was actually a surprise when we first signed up for it because we’re right next to a physicians’ office, and I would have thought that our capture rate on their prescription volume would be much higher than it actually was,” she said. That prompted Umfleet and her marketing coordinator to contact the physicians personally and let them know about their services.
With the help of McKesson, Umfleet plans to continue to expand on quantity, quality — and new stores, too. She recently partnered with local pharmacist Jeremy Leach to open a second Health Mart store in Fredericktown, Mo., this past winter, and a third location is planned for Ironton, Mo., this fall.