INSIGHTS AND PERSPECTIVES

APhA looks to alleviate increasing pressures of the profession

BY Michael Hogue

When my wife and I graduated from pharmacy school and were licensed in 1996, we entered into practice full of hopes and dreams of a bright future. We were eager to put to use those advanced patient care skills our alma mater had well prepared us to use. And put them to use we did.

Following residency, we moved to Alabama to become partners in an independent pharmacy practice, where we were the first pharmacists in the state to begin immunizing our patients. We started a diabetes self-management service and collaborated on drug therapy management with one of our local physicians. We were professionally engaged and actively involved, and both of us were relatively satisfied that we were using the skills we were trained to use, though we still had the challenges of compensation for our services. However, I’m hearing reports from recent graduates that paint a different postgraduation experience picture we had in 1996.

What I’m hearing from these recent graduates, as well as from seasoned pharmacists, is:

  • Public and private payers are looking to pay the lowest price for prescription drugs;
  • The community pharmacy business model no longer supports sufficient staffing, leaving little time for patient care, and in some cases jeopardizing patient safety;
  • Pharmacists, now largely employed by a corporate entity rather than through private practice, feel they have little control over their practice environment and professional judgment;
  • The number of pharmacists in many markets is leading to fear among some of losing their jobs or experiencing lower wages if they do not meet productivity metrics as more technical tasks are delegated to technicians;
  • Full-time employment is sometimes hard to come by as a pharmacist; and
  • Young pharmacists have tremendous personal debt from college.

Frankly, it seems many folks want to stick their head in the sand about these current realities. To do so is a failure to the profession. Hear me clearly: I’m extremely hopeful about the future of pharmacy and have some ideas of how we will get there, but first we have to help lift up our colleagues and move through a difficult period.  

The American Pharmacists Association is the leading advocate for the profession of pharmacy. Nearly every pharmacist in America has been a member of APhA at some point, either as a student or as a pharmacist. As the current speaker of APhA’s House of Delegates and president-elect of the organization, it is important to me that pharmacists and student pharmacists know that APhA is committed to addressing these practical challenges.

The nearly 400-member APhA House of Delegates in March 2018 adopted a policy on the pharmacist workplace environment and patient safety. The policies serve not only as guiding statements and principles for the profession, but are frequently referenced when key policy and legal decisions are at play. In addition to this policy, the APhA board of trustees has incorporated pharmacist well-being initiatives as core to our strategic plan. Among other efforts, we are building tangible resources to assist individual pharmacists with practice challenges, professional satisfaction, recognition and personal well-being.

Additionally, APhA is working with other professional organizations and employers to seek legislative changes at the state and national levels that will result in recognition of pharmacists as providers of care. Coupled with changes that remove unnecessary barriers to the use of technologies and technicians, this will lead to new opportunities for the patient care we are capable of providing, allowing the business model to shift.

There is a hopeful, brighter future ahead — if we fight for it. Let’s join together and ensure that patients continue to have access to the outstanding patient care of pharmacists.


Michael Hogue is president-elect of the American Pharmacists Association, as well as the speaker of the APhA House of Delegates.

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Media buys or jingles: What wins antacid sales?

BY TS Kelly, Alphonso

Antacids have an outsized influence in media and advertising. “Plop, plop, fizz, fizz,” “Rolaids spells relief” and “Tum tum tum tum tuuuum!” are three of the most memorable taglines of all time, and they all hail from heartburn remedies. The sector is so near and dear to our hearts that a 1960s antacid tablet case is even stored at the Smithsonian.

In spite of this influence on our minds and our stomachs, antacid manufacturers as a category spend much less on advertising than the country’s biggest advertisers, which spend $1 billion or more annually to keep their brands top-of-mind.

Click to enlarge

So how do antacids steal so much mindshare? Perhaps it’s in their strategic advertising buys. While the largest marketers spend over $5 million on SuperBowl ads, most of the biggest-spending antacid brands are spending a significant portion of their TV budget on cable, leaning into repetition and niche targeting.

According to Alphonso data, Nexium — 2017’s leading antacid tablet brand in U.S. sales — spent $1.6 million on the four broadcast channels (CBS, ABC, NBC, and Fox) in September and nearly as much across many cable networks during that time period. Prilosec OTC, Nexium’s biggest challenger, spent $1.75 million on TV in September, with 63%, or $1.1 million, going to the cable networks. And, yes “Tum, tum, tum, tums” too! (Can you hear the Dragnet theme?) Tums spent $1.4 million on TV ad space, of that approximately 57%, or $800,000, was spent on cable. Alka-Seltzer spent over $1 million in September, with just 36% of that spend going to broadcast.

Zantac, on the other hand, shook this trend and spent largely on broadcast. Out of $1.25 million spent on TV in September, 67% went to broadcast, or $838,000, out of a total TV spend of $1.25 million. I’ll be keeping my eye out for its 2018 sales figures to see if it worked.

This all leads to my ultimate question: how influential is strategic, targeted TV media buying versus catchy jingles or slogans when It comes to mindshare in the antacid category? The answer: Likely very influential. While consumers might not be able to recite Nexium’s current slogan (it’s: “Imagine 24 hours without heartburn”), Nexium is the heartburn remedy brand they remember when they’re walking down the OTC aisle.


TS Kelly of AlphonsoTS Kelly is senior vice president of research for Alphonso, a TV data company that provides real-time TV campaign analytics, one-to-one TV ad retargeting, and closed-loop attribution for brands and agencies. In his role at Alphonso, Kelly deep dives into television data and insights, giving clients guidance on how to optimize their TV spend.

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Only 1-in-20 companies are elite

BY Dan Mack, Mack Elevation

Many of today’s most compelling companies don’t just sell products — they create emotionally connected relationships with their customers. These exceptional organizations do two things very well: they design radically empathetic products or foster truly transparent relationships with their customers. They practice an “outward focus” and are adept at uncovering and solving problems customers may not even be aware of yet. The elite organizations are respected, admired and even liked. They care about how they show up. Yet, most organizations are not elite and here’s why.

Organizational Distress

Gallup’s latest State of the American Workplace research is essential reading for leaders looking to build and retain elite organizations.  The most current survey extends to 31 million people and uncovered that over half of everyone in the workplace (51%) are searching for a new job.

The research showed that 78 percent of employees don’t believe their leadership has a clear direction for the organization. Similarly, 87 percent of employees do not strongly agree that their leaders communicate effectively.  And Deloitte Global Human Capital Trends shows that only 8% of large companies believe their structure is optimized. Most teams are not in alignment and are partially checked out.

The Elite Behaviors

Research by Scott Kelly and Mary Meaney observed that when teams align on a common vision, they are 190% more likely to deliver above-median financial performance. High performing teams collectively (and internally) set a high bar for growth. My research estimates that 3%-to-5% percent of leaders and organizations are truly elite.  What’s their secret?

  1. Elite teams commit to a set of values and culture which pulls them forward towards their higher calling.  These organizations allow everyone to influence change and make critical decisions in the best interest of the enterprise.  They hire curious talent who are committed to their own self-learning and development.
  2. Elite teams value psychological safety, allowing individuals to enter difficult conversations and voice dissent.
  3. Elite teams practice radical simplification, focusing instead on developing expertise and mastery within fewer domains. They protect tribal knowledge, institutionalizing and building on their distinct culture and capabilities.

We are not capable of becoming elite unless curiosity is fostered and context is expanded. High performers normally have a broader understanding of the context surrounding them, including exposure to diverse challenges, people, competitive threats, and customer requests.  The highest performing teams are more well-rounded and comprised of diverse and varied viewpoints.

Elite organizations understand their calling, their team’s assets, and their unique communication styles. All of this self-analysis is meant to drive the best from each other.

They ask a different question: “Where do we need to focus and what do we need to learn in order to become distinct and elite?”


Dan Mack is the founder of Mack Elevation and a performance coach, strategist and the author of “Dark Horse: How Challenger Companies Rise to Prominence.”

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