Cardinal Health 2018

NCPA dishes ‘The 7 Habits of Highly Successful Pharmacy Owners’

BY Michael Johnsen

At Cardinal Health RBC 2018, Doug Hoey, president and CEO of the National Community Pharmacists Association, discussed the “The 7 Habits of Highly Successful Pharmacy Owners,” encouraging attendees to be proactive in the marketplace and their communities. After interviewing dozens of independent pharmacy owners to gain their insight, he shared that pharmacists who embody these seven habits are typically on the forefront of pharmacy innovation.

Habit No. 1: Invest time, money and energy in personnel
It’s a people business. That’s as true for the relationship between pharmacist and patient as it is for the one between pharmacist and front-line staff. Highly successful pharmacy owners make a conscious effort to find, recruit, train and continue to motivate their teams. “Training and motivating team members is one of the most important things you can do,” Hoey said. One owner interviewed by Hoey used an “attaboy” box to motivate employees. The box, filled with recent accolades of store employees, is pulled out and shared during team meetings. That practice not only helps boost morale, the owner noted, but also helps reinforce positive, customer-focused behaviors. “What gets rewarded, gets repeated,” Hoey said.

Habit No. 2: Get out from behind the counter
Independent pharmacy owners do not have access to the best corners, nor do they own and operate PBMs to help drive patients through their doors. “[Independents] are starting out at a little bit of a disadvantage,” Hoey said. “Of these seven habits, I would argue [getting out into the community] may be the most important thing you can do for your business.” The leading reason pharmacy owners and operators refrain from personal, hands-on community engagement is cost, Hoey said. Many owners feel that if they’re not behind the bench adjudicating prescriptions, then they’re not contributing to the bottom line. But of the thousands of owners Hoey has engaged with who have made it a point to get out from behind the bench and plug into their patients and their communities, it has become a game changer.

Habit No. 3: Know what’s driving the financials
Knowing is half the battle. Pharmacy owners who have an intimate knowledge of their profit and loss statements, and which levers they can pull to improve those statements, have a leg up on their competitors. “Most of us look at our financials as a lag measure,” Hoey said. “Knowing some lag measures does have benefits, but you want to know what’s influencing those financials before they happen.” According to the NCPA Digest, those independent pharmacists who best manage their cost of goods rank among the top 25% best independent pharmacy performers.

Habit No. 4: Know and understand pharmacy contracts
Highly successful pharmacy owners read their contracts before signing, especially when it comes to pharmacy networks. “Even though [many are] one-sided, take-it-or-leave-it contracts, it’s still your signature on that contract. That makes it really hard to say this is unfair and wrong, even if it is unfair and wrong,” Hoey said. “Know what’s in your contract. You might not like what’s in there, but understanding [the contract] is better than being blindsided.”

Habit No. 5: Embrace innovation
More consumers are using technology to optimize their daily lives. For many of the same reasons, pharmacy owners should deploy technology to help drive efficiencies into the business and to lower operating costs. “Your pharmacy management systems are often an underutilized resource,” Hoey said. “There are so many whistles and bells that are good tools in [a typical] pharmacy management system that pharmacy owners don’t know they exist.”

Habit No. 6: Get in sync with med sync
Medication synchronization is one of those crucial technology tools pharmacists can use to improve patient care, create operational efficiencies and mitigate inventory costs. In other words, it does it all. “Most people in this room, if our surveys are right, are doing some form of medication synchronization,” Hoey said. “But as I talked with the most successful pharmacy owners, just doing it and really doing it are two different things. By really doing it, that means you’ve assigned someone to it; you’ve trained someone on it. It is baked into your business.” On average, independents spend more on personnel than the big-box chains, which means those improvements to workflow driven by med sync represent a greater impact to the bottom line.

Habit No. 7: Understand what makes your community tick
This is perhaps one of the greater points of differentiation independent pharmacy owners can exploit. “This is especially important for independents. What is the heartbeat of your community?” Hoey asked. “You know your community better than anyone else, and when you’re doing [habit] No. 2, as far as getting out from behind the counter, you’re going to know your community even more.”

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Cardinal Health 2018

Cardinal Health launches new Medicare Part B billing solution

BY Michael Johnsen

Cardinal Health launched a Medicare Part B billing solution, which helps improve operational efficiency by consolidating Medicare Part B reconciliation into one platform, at Cardinal Health RBC 2018.

“We’re giving our customers a solution that allows them to bill and reconcile Part B claims within their existing reconciliation platform,” Amy Hughes, senior manager, Product and Solutions Marketing at Cardinal Health, told Drug Store News. “They can reconcile their Part B claims and all of their other pharmacy claims in one integrated portal. They don’t have to log into our [reconciliation] tool to look at all of their pharmacy claims and then spend additional time trying to look at and manage their Part B claims.”

Medicare Part B billing incorporates a broad swath of services and products that pharmacists provide, including immunizations, ostomy products, nebulizers, diabetic supplies and durable medical equipment.

In fact, the ability to adjudicate a Part B claim may help lay the groundwork for additional patient care services as provider status takes effect at the state level, Hughes added. “Right now, we’re laying the foundation with this Part B [solution],” she said. “It gives pharmacists a way to bill for claims that fall under a medical benefit. [Pharmacists] will eventually be able to bill for more services as pharmacists continue to practice at the top of their license, providing more clinical care.”

The new fee-based billing solution addresses a significant issue for independent pharmacists, Hughes said. “That’s a pain point for them today, having to [reconcile] in two different places and not having visibility to everything in one place,” she said.

The new program also represents a first-of-its-kind solution, Hughes added. “There are other solutions on the market that allow pharmacists to bill Part B. What differentiates us is we’ve pulled it into one platform,” she said. “From a reconciliation standpoint, we’re the first PSAO to do this. It’s something we’re really proud of.”

To date there has been a lot of positive feedback over the new solution, Hughes noted, including the ability to conduct an eligibility check prior to filing a claim and the overall visibility of claims that are associated with the tool, including what the pharmacists have reported and the status of each claim.

Click here to learn more about how this solution can help you bill, track and reconcile your Medicare Part B claims in real time.

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Strength in numbers: Advocacy in focus at Cardinal Health RBC 2018

BY David Salazar

At the Cardinal Health RBC 2018 Opening Session in San Diego, pharmacy owners heard about the ways they can work together to bring change to the current reimbursement model.

Doug Hoey, president and CEO of the National Community Pharmacists Association, and Ritesh Shah, owner of Drug$mart Pharmacy in Keansburg, N.J., spoke to Steve Lawrence, Cardinal Health senior vice president of independent sales, about how independent pharmacies’ strength lies in their numbers when it comes to changing policy.

Hoey noted that progress has been made in bringing to light the reimbursement issues that community pharmacies have with pharmacy benefit managers. He highlighted recent stories from “60 Minutes” and The Wall Street Journal that shined a light on the issue and noted that even President Donald Trump has taken notice of PBMs.

“We can’t let up — we’re reinventing pharmacy and redefining how we get paid,” Hoey said, noting that NCPA members are bringing some of their legislators to tour their pharmacies and educate them about the reimbursement system.

This direct approach is one way that pharmacies can help effect change on an individual effort, and Shah highlighted ways that pharmacists can do so on a larger level.

Shah, who chairs the New Jersey Pharmacists Association Political Action Committee, said that lawmakers in his state, after listening to a coalition of community pharmacy groups, recently passed legislation focused on maximum allowable cost, or MAC, transparency, as well as legislation that subjects PBMs to state regulation and allows pharmacists to dispute with PBMs through the state, allowing them to enforce contracting standards.

Hoey noted that changing the current payment model, while a victory in itself, cannot be where pharmacy advocacy ends.

“It’s really important not only that we succeed in disrupting this current payment model, but that we also offer a solution that redefines how pharmacies get paid,” he said. “That solution is the Community Pharmacy Enhanced Services Network.”

CPESN USA is made up of local, largely state-based pharmacy networks that work together to negotiate contracts with payers as a clinically integrated network. Hoey noted that doing so helps elevate pharmacies to the same level as health plans and other healthcare providers in negotiation, which complements legislative efforts.

“When you put CPESN and the advocacy efforts together, that’s how we’re going to change how pharmacies are paid,” he said.

Shah said that pharmacies in New Jersey recently banded together to get a Jersey City independent pharmacy re-added to a network by telling legislators the new hurdles for Jersey City patients who might have to travel farther just to pick up their prescriptions.

“We fought hard, our numbers worked and we were able to get the pharmacy back into the contracts,” Shah said. “When you work together, united, it works. The numbers make an impact, but we have to stay focused and organized.”

Hoey noted that in addition to pharmacies being engaged, recent coverage and focus on pharmacy-related issues also is mobilizing patients, who he said can be a key voice to add to those of pharmacists.

“There’s no question staying organized and moving as one unified front makes for a very powerful force,” Lawrence said as he closed the panel. “Change just doesn’t happen — we have to get involved to cause change.”

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