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Barry Bryant wins Ken Wurster Community Leadership Award

BY Antoinette Alexander

WASHINGTON — Barry Bryant, owner of Barney’s Pharmacy in Augusta, Ga., is a true community advocate whose acts of kindness and education have earned him this year’s Ken Wurster Community Leadership Award at the 24th annual Cardinal Health Retail Business Conference held in Washington, D.C.

This annual award honors a retail independent pharmacist who promotes the ideals of community pharmacy and demonstrates the important role retail pharmacists can play in delivering quality patient care. Nominees, selected by fellow independent pharmacists and Cardinal Health leaders, are evaluated on a variety of criteria, including community service and involvement, ability to inspire others, and commitment to making their communities better places to live.

“Our winner is a perfect example of what the Ken Wurster Community Leadership Award means,” said Steve Lawrence, SVP of Independent Sales for Cardinal Health, who noted that Bryant’s community outreach efforts begin within his pharmacy.

Bryant organizes and hosts support group meetings for breast cancer and ostomy patients; hosts a free Health Fair every fall where he offers free health screenings and wellness classes; and supports many local community groups through charitable giving. He also has created a patient education program that features free classes each month on such topics as diabetes, cardiovascular disease, COPD/asthma, depression/mental illness and weight loss.

“It is a humbling honor to be recognized for something that all of the pharmacists [in this room] do each and every day. It is what we do,” said Bryant upon receiving the award during the Opening Night Celebration on July 24. “If I can do this, any of you can do this.”

As a way of recognizing Bryant’s commitment to community service to the pharmacy profession and residents of the Augusta area, Cardinal Health will donate $5,000 to the University of South Carolina School of Pharmacy and $5,000 to the University of Georgia School of Pharmacy in Bryant’s honor.

Additional finalists for the 2014 Ken Wurster Community Leadership Award included:

  • Chukwuma Madu of Freeport Medical Supply in Freeport, N.Y.;
  • Robert Gisnik of Southrifty Drug in Southampton, N.Y.;
  • George Hammons of Knox Professional Pharmacy in Barbourville, Ky.; and
  • Deborah Walker Robinson of Walker’s Pharmacy in Newton, N.C.

This annual award was created in honor of Tampa, Fla., independent pharmacist Ken Wurster, who passed away in 2008. Wurster was highly regarded for his commitment to serving his customers, and epitomized the role of a pharmacist who took responsibility for the wellness of his community.

All nominations were evaluated by members of Cardinal Health’s National Retail Advisory Board and a team of Cardinal Health employees. The five finalists were sent to an executive committee, including Cardinal Health leadership and NRAB members who together selected Bryant for his community commitment.
 

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Cardinal Health names three winners of Best Practices Competition

BY Michael Johnsen

WASHINGTON — Cardinal Health this year named three winners of its prestigious Independent Pharmacy Best Practices Competition, in place of just one, during the company’s Retail Business Conference in late July.

The Best Practice Competition winners — Mac’s Pharmacy in Knoxville, Tenn.; TLC Pharmacy in Mission, Texas; and Mingo Pharmacy in Mingo Junction, Ohio — were selected as industry trendsetters whose successful, real-world models serve as an example for other community pharmacies across the country. All three winners are featured in the 2014 Cardinal Health Retail Pharmacy Best Practice Guide, which includes case studies for each, along with dozens of other best practice stories from retail pharmacists across the country.

Cardinal Health’s Bill Hayden, VP sales west region, introduced the three Best Practices Competition winners, saying: “This year, rather than choose three finalists and then one winner, we decided to award all three.”

Mac’s Pharmacy in Knoxville, Tenn. — run by Mac Wilhoit and his son, Mike — utilized a program that synchronizes and packages monthly prescription refills in ways that greatly improve the success of patients taking the right medicines at the right times. “Under the MediSync [and MediSync Plus] program[s], the pharmacy takes full control of a patient’s medication management by handling refills, prior authorizations and medication changes,” Hayden said. “Each patient is also assigned a MediSync coordinator who calls every month for pill counts, to check adherence and to go over the patient’s medication needs.”

The pharmacy filled six more refills per prescription, per year on average for each customer. “The majority of the patients who are on this program are the ones who are on the most medications,” noted Mike Wilhoit. “A lot of them are on 10 or more medications. By getting them on the program, they don’t have to worry about refills. All those things are being taken care of for them.”

At TLC Pharmacy in Mission, Texas, which suffered a sharp downturn in its durable medical equipment business when Medicare implemented a competitive bidding policy that shifted sales to larger suppliers, operations manager Joe Vargas shifted its focus to items that needed a clinician’s touch and weren’t easily subject to competitive bidding. One of its most successful strategies was focusing on fitting therapeutic shoes for diabetic patients. With four technicians trained on fitting shoes, the operation sells as many as 20 pairs of therapeutic shoes per day. “These patients [also get] their diabetic test strips and supplies when purchasing shoes,” Hayden noted. “Aiding in their success, TLC Pharmacy found a supplier partner in Independence Medical that was critical in helping them secure advantageous pricing on some of their medical supplies. TLC Pharmacy is a perfect example on how you can capitalize on a tough situation and still be competitive in your business.”

“We looked at our current market and our patient’s needs, but most importantly we looked at the product mix that we were carrying and basically focused on those products that were not going to be included in competitive bidding,” Vargas said.

And at Mingo Pharmacy in Mingo Junction, Ohio, pharmacist Frank Vostatek went back to school to become a registered nurse. He may be the nation’s first registered pharmacist who is also a registered nurse and a family nurse practitioner. “Not only is he providing better patient care in his community, he’s also helping his business grow,” Hayden said.

Vostatek said these additional licenses allow him to tap his deep knowledge of pharmacy and “practice at the top of my license.” He can administer all injections, and provide comprehensive wellness and illness care to children and adults. In coordination with a physician, he now also can write prescriptions. “As a pharmacist, we’re in one of those professions where right now it seems like we only get paid for what we sell. Really the most valuable part of what we do is what we know, and it’s hard to be remunerated for that,” Vostatek said. “I was tired of having customers, and I wanted to convert those into patients. … Being a nurse really helped me change my whole philosophy on how I view the patients who come into the pharmacy.”

To help support Vostatek, Mingo Pharmacy built a 1,300-sq.-ft. clinic addition, adding four patient suites that provide a broad range of urgent care services. “Another thing that we did was we incorporated a conference room into our pharmacy, which is already being used by a licensed chemical dependency counselor,” added Melissa Vostatek, fellow owner/operator. “We made a lot of changes, and the community is very excited about those changes we made.”

The 2014 Best Practice winners directed a $3,500 donation — made by Cardinal Health — to the pharmacy school or pharmacy association of their choice. The donation recipients included the Tennessee Pharmacy Association, Texas Southern University and Franciscan University of Steubenville, Ohio.

 

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Cardinal Health Industry General Session focuses on legislation, customer profiling

BY Michael Johnsen

WASHINGTON — Cardinal Health continued with its “Leading Change” theme during the Industry General Session at the Retail Business Conference Friday, July 25, beginning with an expert panel that discussed the most pertinent legislative issues facing independent pharmacy and what pharmacists can do about them. That panel was followed by the awarding of Cardinal Health’s Independent Pharmacy Best Practices Competition, which this year named three winners who identified and capitalized on unique opportunities in their communities. And the Friday morning session was wrapped up with an in-depth, and exclusive, peek into the makeup of today's independent shopper.

Steve Lawrence, Cardinal Health SVP Independent Sales, kicked off the Friday morning event with a panel of three pharmacy legislative experts, including Theresa Tolle, owner of Bay Street Pharmacy in Melbourne, Fla., representing pharmacy operators; Connie Woodburn, Cardinal SVP Government Relations; and Doug Hoey, CEO of the National Community Pharmacists Association (NCPA).

The panelists noted that Cardinal Health, with NCPA participation, has a toolkit at LegislativeToolkit.com to help pharmacists identify their local legislators and learn how to engage them. “It really walks you through how to contact your Congressman, how to set up a tour, how to communicate with them, how to find the bills,” Woodburn said. “Between our two organizations, we have a wonderful new toolkit for you to use.”

According to a survey of community pharmacists conducted by NCPA, the preferred networks and any willing provider issue ranked No. 1 as the legislative issue most important to them. “Legislation has been introduced that will allow any willing pharmacy willing to accept the same terms and conditions — we’re not asking for any special treatment, [just a] level playing field —  let our members play,” Hoey said. “That legislation was introduced in May during our legislative conference [and] has 52 co-sponsors so far, which is fantastic.”

Price and transparency was the No. 2 issue ranked by independents as most important to them, Hoey said. “I would venture to say that almost every one of you in this audience has had a year like me where you’ve seen more losses on generics than you’ve ever seen in your entire career,” Tolle said. As many as 16 states have passed MAC legislation in the past year, so there is momentum, Hoey noted. At the federal level, bill No. 4437 was introduced earlier this year to address the issue. “Not only [does] it really look at generic pricing and updating the MACs, but there’s also some really good language around PBMs and audit processes and appeals processes, etc.,” Woodburn said.

The third legislative topic covered by the panel was provider status. “Provider status is the Holy Grail for pharmacists,” Hoey noted. “[It’s] not a new idea, but this time it’s different.” There is a tremendous amount of momentum behind the idea for a number of reasons, Hoey added. Pharmacists have shown they can help lower healthcare costs; there is a provider shortage; and not only are Americans aging, but they’re living longer as well. “This is something that we need to hit at both the state and federal level,” Woodburn added.

But the independent pharmacy community still needs to lobby their local legislative representative, Woodburn urged. “We need your help. There is no one who is more credible and sympathetic than independent pharmacies that are in every district in the Congress; that are small businesses in the hometown taking care of people; and that are many times, if not the sole provider, the first point of access for health care for many of you,” she said.

Following the panel, Shaun Young, Cardinal Health VP Consumer Health, and Naomi Duvall, Director of Consumer Health at Cardinal Health, closed the morning’s session with an overview of the independent customer provided through Nielsen. According to Cardinal Health’s research, 15 million households shop in community pharmacies, averaging seven trips per year and spending $26 per trip. One-fourth (23%) of independent shoppers account for 76% of sales.

Young and Duvall broke down the independent shopper into two categories: Carla, the heavy shopper, and the Carson’s, the household making up the light shopper demographic. Carla is the typical “active Boomer” who visits independents 22 times per year, or about once every other week, and lives on a fixed income. The Carsons, symbolizing the Sandwich Generation, are more affluent and visit independent pharmacy only to fill a prescription for an acute illness, for now. “Keeping Carla happy and loyal will sustain your business, courting and being ready for the Carsons will grow your business,” Young said.  
 

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