Health Mart owner talks about medication synchronization in action
Drug Store News had the opportunity at McKesson ideaShare 2015 to talk to Bob Lomenick, owner of three Health Mart pharmacies in Holly Springs, Miss., about his pharmacy’s experience with Medication Synchronization and its impact on improved outcomes and patient lives.
Health Mart encourages members to become ‘better than better’
SAN DIEGO – Health Mart owners and pharmacists are putting up big numbers on the EQuIPP™ scorecard, both Steve Courtman, Health Mart president and Tony Willoughby, Health Mart’s Chief pharmacist, told Drug Store News in an exclusive interview following the Health Mart Annual Meeting at McKesson’s ideaShare 2015.
Cost, coverage and quality are the key stakes in the game that retail pharmacies play to gain and maintain access to patients – chains and independents alike. Health Mart is doing well. More than 25% of the Health Mart stores are in the top 20% of at least one of the CMS Medicare Part D Star Ratings measures. But, quality scores are still too close as the competition is only going to get better and the pharmacy performance bar continues to rise. So Health Mart pharmacies are striving to be Top 20% as a network. And they can do that by playing to their strengths – patient engagement and working collaboratively with providers.
EQuIPP is a good start that provides proof of concept to potential partners, said Willoughby. It used to be that when Willoughby or Steve Courtman would speak with payers, ACOs, or physician practices — telling them anecdotally about the great relationships Health Mart pharmacists have with their patients, and the improved outcomes borne from that relationship — those groups weren’t taking that on faith. They wanted proof. “That’s the major thing that the EQuIPP results have given us. It has given us facts to prove it: we can look at those relationships that alter behaviors and improve adherence. That’s meaningful,” Willoughby said.
To help its members execute against the game plan and showcase those proof points, Health Mart hosts town hall-style CE sessions delivered by pharmacists from Health Marts across the country to help indepedents understand the importance of quality metrics and the tools available to help them improve outcomes and demonstrate the quality care they deliver to patients. At about 100 meetings each year, any independent pharmacy and its staff have the opportunity to ask probing questions and get specifics on how their peers have used EQuIPP to improve quality improvement and execute MTM programs successfully.
“It’s not unidirectional,” Willoughby said. “It’s that dialogue that helps feed the content. We have a vision of what we want to accomplish in the Town Halls, but just like our pharmacists have a unique ability to cater to a local patient, we try to do the same for our customers, as well as allow them to see how it works.”
“It’s that kind of no-holds barred feedback that will enable Health Mart to become better than better,” Courtman added. “We talk about Health Mart making Health Mart stronger, that’s where that comes out,” he said. The feedback is additive.
“We’re not the innovators, our pharmacies are,” Willoughby said. “It’s taking their concepts, their ideas and trying to commercialize them or share them with the broader membership so that they can learn from each other.”
Working together toward replicative success is important, Courtman said, especially as the pharmacy business model continues to evolve. “There’s a certain transition in the industry from this prescription basis to a patient focus,” Courtman said. “It’s not just about our pharmacists being the ones who put the pill in the bottle, it’s actually about looking after the patient. Our pharmacists do that exceptionally well. So when we look at this shift in the marketplace and the increased focus on quality, Star Ratings, value-based reimbursement and where the industry is going, everything tees up particularly well for our pharmacies. That’s what they do. They look after patients.”
Pharmacies being recognized for the quality care they deliver gets Courtman excited. Talk about the competition getting better? Bring it on. “People talk about the competitive landscape increasing because of this focus on patient care, but it will be interesting to see how it really plays out,” he said. “Because a lot of our competitors say that they can do this, but whether they can actually execute is another matter.” Larger organizations may trump independents on some aspects of efficiency and productivity, but they can’t touch the service available at Health Mart pharmacies, he said. And it’s that service, their relationships with patients and customer focus that will drive the kind of tangible results for which healthcare partners are looking.
“Changing the patient trajectory is all about helping them make better choices and changing behaviors,” Willoughby said. “To enable you to be able to change a patient’s behavior, you’ve got to know them. You have to have a relationship with them. There’s a stability in an independent pharmacy where it’s the same pharmacist, not just for this week or this Tuesday, but for the last 15 or 20 years.” Health Mart pharmacists are icons within their respective communities, Willoughby said. Everyone can learn a person’s name, but these independent pharmacists are there when a new parent calls in about the first spiked temperature and many continue to serve that family’s needs throughout that child’s life.
If Health Mart can leverage those kinds of long-term patient relationships, they’ll be more impactful when it comes to outcomes-based health plans.
“Health care is local, and it’s personal,” Courtman added. “When I was with Marble City, this year’s Pharmacy of the Year, you see the way they practice health care in their community. It’s just fantastic to see that level of care. That’s the stuff that has come out of our Town Halls — that engagement and interaction between us and all of our customers, and among all of our customers. It’s that ability to execute at the local level that has just been so critical for our success.”
Looking ahead, the Town Hall meetings themselves will evolve with the retail pharmacy industry, while continuing to focus on sharing how to best implement the latest tools, available through Health Mart, that will enable Independents to create profitable patient-centered business models, compete, and grow their pharmacies. “You heard Steve talk more about med sync, so the Town Halls will focus more specifically around teaching Health Mart pharmacists exactly how to use a given tool to impact their workflow and allocate time so that they can have those intentful conversations,” Willoughby said. There is no question that med sync has operational and adherence support benefits, but the end goal isn’t specifically med sync; it’s a vehicle to give them time to have proactive discussions about their medication regimen and offer all the patient-centered services available through the pharmacy.”
Courtman and Willoughby also will be addressing many of the takeaways from this year’s McKesson ideaShare. Courtman explained that Health Mart members need “to understand the importance of shifting their profit model from prescription-based activities in the back of the store to align with way they are treating their patients today— a holistic perspective centered around improving and maintaining their health.”
Health Mart members can get a head start in implementing changes by focusing on rating in the top 20% on the EQuIPP scoreboard, taking advantage of the Medicare Part D marketing plan and enrolling more than 100 patients into a medication synchronization program.
Willoughby identified another key takeaway from this year’s show: Health Mart members need to be who they are. “From a feel standpoint, an emotional standpoint, we want them to leave McKesson ideaShare knowing they have our support and they had great peer examples on how to make it happen,” he said. “It’s not our Health Mart. It’s not Steve’s, it’s not mine, it’s not McKesson’s. It’s theirs. And there is nothing more motivating than when you are in a tough situation to see people who are being successful and are willing to take you with them.”