Big ideas help kick off ideaShare 2015 with full day of education

BY David Salazar

SAN DIEGO — McKesson ideaShare 2015 kicked off Wednesday with a full day of continuing education sessions to help independent pharmacists remain at the cutting edge of patient care and pharmacy practice. Over the course of the four-day conference, McKesson will host more than 30 CE sessions, covering such important topics as medication synchronization, marketing in a digital world, building prescriber relationships and much more.

Drug Store News sat in on some of the sessions. Following are some key highlights from Wednesday and Thursday:

Medication Synchronization: Building the Foundation to Maximize Your Pharmacy’s Financial and Clinical Potential
Co-moderators Pam Bernadella, director of training and professional services for Health Mart; John Gregg, director of clinical operations for Health Mart; and Health Mart Pharmacy owner Bob Lomenick of Tyson Drugs discussed the advantages of adopting an appointment-based, medication synchronization program for an independent pharmacy, including improved patient outcomes and prescription growth. The session provided a five-step roadmap on how to implement a successful med sync program in just 90 days. According to a 2013 study published in the Journal of the American Pharmacists Association, patients enrolled in med sync programs had average adherence rates of more than 89% versus 57% adherence among patients not enrolled in med sync. In addition, for every 100 patients enrolled in a med sync program, pharmacies generated about three additional fills per patient, resulting in a $91,140 incremental lift in revenue.

“That’s more than an extra week of sales,” Bernadella said. “The financial benefit is real.”

Why Marketing Matters: Using Proven Strategies to Acquire Patients and Promote Your Pharmacy
Pharmacies that have incorporated medication synchronization into their practice, of course, need to advertise that service. Kevin Joyce, SVP EMG3, talked about how to do that effectively. Joyce laid the foundation for independent pharmacies to construct a comprehensive, affordable and effective marketing program designed both to acquire new patients and help retain existing patients.

Joyce suggested operators start small and be willing to constantly test and tweak the message. Operators should also focus their pitch to a defined patient group, which not only makes the message more effective, but also makes the campaign more affordable, he said. And there should be a specific call to action associated with the campaign, such as an invitation to participate in an event.

Marketing Your Pharmacy in Social Media, Mobile and the Digital World
Among the sessions emphasizing better ways for pharmacy owners to serve their customers, Elizabeth Estes, Ebus Innovation’s chief ideas officer, led a session outlining ways community pharmacies can acquire new customers and convert them into loyal customers through digital marketing.

Estes talked about the importance of mobile-optimized websites, leveraging Facebook marketing to engage the community, how to maintain a consistent digital presence, and how to deal with reviews on social sites like Yelp, and offered a toolkit for how to thrive in a permanently changed landscape.

“The digital experiment we all talked about and thought about four or five years ago is not an experiment — it’s a way of life. And it’s what our patients and what our consumers are doing,” Estes said. “There are a lot of opportunities for you to use these tools to engage your patients and to work with your patients with these tools.”

Seven Deadly Sins of Community Pharmacy

Hamacher Research Group VP Dave Wendland talked about the common mistakes independent pharmacy owners often make that cause them to fail to optimize sales at the front-end of the store. Among the many lost opportunities for increased sales, Wendland pointed to such missed opportunities as poorly used endcaps and merchandise displays, a reliance on traditional media and inconsistent planogram implementation

“There are countless opportunities for independent pharmacies to capture sales that are literally right in front of them, and that is the front of the store,” Wendland told Drug Store News. “Certainly as an industry, we need look no further than what CVS Health announced last week, which is they’re devoting more energies to the front end. Independent pharmacy needs to do the same.”

Positively Impacting Performance Measures One Patient at a Time
Janelle Ruisinger, associate professor at the University of Kansas School of Pharmacy, helped participants parse the different guidelines they could use to determine if a diabetic patient is right for statin therapy, and discussed typical reasons for non-adherence and potential solutions. Ruisinger emphasized that adherence goes hand-in-hand with improved performance on CMS’ Star ratings. Ruisinger quoted the World Health Organization, which calls pharmacists “an important resource for improving adherence to long-term therapy.”

“The WHO recognizes pharmacists as important to helping improve adherence and so hopefully we can step up to that challenge and make big changes and help our patients out there,” Ruisinger said.

 20 Great Ideas to Build Relationships with Physicians
One common theme at McKesson ideaShare 2015 revolved around forging stronger relationships — between pharmacies and customers, potential customers, and even prescribers. Marsha Millonig, CEO of Catalyst Enterprises, and Dr. Paul Mulhausen, chief medical officer at Telligen, discussed the potential for collaboration between pharmacies and doctors undergirded by a professional and mutually respectful relationship — what Millonig referred to as a covenant between pharmacist and patient, as well as pharmacist and physician.

Milhausen emphasized the pharmacy’s need to fill a niche in providing care and preventing adverse drug events — special populations like the elderly and those with serious mental illness are examples of these — in a way that adds value to the physician-pharmacist relationship.

“If you can’t bring added value to the collaboration, you will be irrelevant,” Milhausen said, adding that if pharmacies can add value to the relationship, there will be pay off down the road.


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McKesson ideaShare 2015 showcases three key drivers to independent success


SAN DIEGO — Thousands of independent pharmacy owners from across the country are attending McKesson ideaShare 2015, here at the San Diego Convention Center this week, to explore the latest tools and strategies to help independent operators enhance patient care and improve profitability.  

“As the industry continues to evolve, pharmacists are being pushed to elevate their role as healthcare service providers,” stated Mark Walchirk, president of McKesson U.S. Pharmaceutical. “McKesson and Health Mart are driving innovation in this environment through continued investment in new business-building tools, clinical solutions and technology being highlighted here at McKesson ideaShare to help impact patient care and outcomes, as well as seize opportunities for growth.”

“Health Mart has experienced tremendous growth over the past several years by providing tools and support that enable members to deliver superior patient care and quality outcomes, bring more patients into their stores and expand their services for more revenue,” added Steve Courtman, Health Mart president. “This week, Health Mart will showcase key solutions designed to help grow their business.”

This year’s McKesson ideaShare 2015 — which opened June 24 and runs through June 28 — focuses on providing solutions across three areas of independent’s business: gaining access to preferred networks, building a patient base within the competitive pharmacy industry, and realizing the promise of reimbursable patient care and disease management services.

The action kicked off Wednesday, where it was standing-room only for the full day of continuing education sessions, covering dozens of critical topics from medication synchronization, marketing in a digital world, building prescriber relationships, and more. In all, McKesson will host more than 30 accredited CE sessions over the course of ideaShare 2015.

Gaining access to preferred networks
Health Mart is focused on helping pharmacies get the credit they deserve for improved patient adherence and quality outcomes, and gain additional access to preferred networks. This year at McKesson ideaShare, Health Mart will focus on two core areas: improving clinical performance and pharmacy-based adherence support.

Health Mart has a number of programs to help pharmacies address nonadherence, including interpreting their EQuIPP scores. More than 80% of Health Mart stores are now enrolled in EQuIPP to track their pharmacy quality performance, and the number of Health Mart stores with one or more measures in the top 20% continues to increase. Health Mart continues to educate members on behavioral coaching, medication synchronization and comprehensive medication reviews, as well as such intervention tools as refill reminders. In the fall, Health Mart will host its third series of Town Hall meetings focused on medication synchronization. The latest edition of Health Mart’s “Drive Improved Pharmacy Performance Playbook” will be highlighted at the conference.   

Meanwhile, McKesson’s Sponsored Clinical Services Network will be introducing phone-based pharmacist coaching to expand the reach of its award-winning Pharmacy Intervention Program. These manufacturer-sponsored coaching sessions have consistently increased patient adherence by up to 30%. Launched at McKesson ideaShare 2014, the LoyaltyScript@Retail program provides pharmacists with a timely, convenient means of providing patient savings and enhanced care, with easy, in-store access to co-pay savings offers for a growing list of brands via McKesson’s online portal. More than 13,400 pharmacies are participating in the program, and pharmacists have used the tool at the counter to help patients start their therapy.
Bringing new patients into the store
Competition for patients is stronger than ever, which is why Health Mart continues to invest in national and local marketing tools to help bring more patients into its stores. To help Health Mart owners promote their pharmacy their way, Health Mart pharmacies have access to matching funds for local marketing activities that give owners the flexibility to promote their specific service offerings and distinct strengths, attract new patients and reinforce their value to existing patients. (For an in-depth look at how Health Mart is helping to bring new patients to the store, see DSN’s exclusive interview with Health Mart director of marketing Michelle Gilliam.

Expand patient-centered services for more revenue
Health Mart is helping pharmacies implement vaccination programs and other clinical services that shift the focus to the patient, and help owners grow their pharmacy businesses and drive profitability. At McKesson ideaShare 2015, Health Mart introduced a new Vaccine Starter Kit program and the latest 340B software tools for its Macro Helix solution.

As reimbursement pressures continue to compress retail margins, vaccines offer a unique revenue opportunity for stores. The Vaccine Starter Kit gives pharmacy owners the ability to establish a vaccine practice in their own stores, with 12 months of hands-on customer support from a vaccine subject-matter expert who covers all of the key steps for starting a vaccine administration program. The Vaccine Starter Kit program is open for enrollment at McKesson ideaShare 2015, with services beginning in August 2015.

At the meeting, Macro Helix featured its latest 340B software tools designed to help pharmacies interested in engaging in 340B or who are approached by a 340B clinic about participation as a contract pharmacy. The McKesson 340B team on Thursday morning conducted the CE session, “Strategies to Support a Healthy 340B Contract Pharmacy Program,” outlining attributes of a well-managed 340B contract pharmacy and strategies to build healthy relationships.

McKesson invests in Health Mart
McKesson continues to make investments to help Health Mart and independent pharmacies improve their bottom line, operate more efficiently and thrive in the future, giving them the ability to better serve their patients and grow their pharmacy business.

One of the additional solutions McKesson will offer at ideaShare 2015 is StarWellness for Medication Synchronization. As the pharmacy industry rapidly shifts with an increase of narrow networks and a growing importance on clinical performance as a consideration for network access, AccessHealth is offering this medication synchronization software tool from PrescribeWellness. AccessHealth will highlight this important addition to its suite of services, which helps increase pharmacy efficiencies through consolidated reimbursement processes, and the tools needed to help pharmacies drive better patient outcomes and become top performers.

McKesson also will launch a mobile-optimized McKesson Connect “Mobile Companion,” allowing pharmacies to manage core product search and ordering activities from any mobile device. The McKesson Connect Community, which lets pharmacists and owners collaborate with peers, has grown 40% since last year, with 6,000 members participating in 1,300 discussions.

Each year, McKesson also has emphasized the importance of pharmacy ownership. McKesson’s RxOwnership team will host on Friday the annual Ownership Transfer Luncheon, featuring a panel discussion with pharmacy owners who have participated in the RxOwnership program. The panel will review recent industry changes and discuss their road to ownership and how RxOwnership advisers can help other independent pharmacists with their ownership goals. In the past year, McKesson has helped 382 owners start new pharmacies and has helped more than 2,700 pharmacies through the ownership-transfer process since 2007.

In addition, this year McKesson will be launching the Adherence Performance Solution, an online dashboard from McKesson Pharmacy Systems & Automation (MPS&A) that provides valuable data to help pharmacies understand and act on patient medication adherence behaviors. The Adherence Performance Solution dashboard helps identify patients for pharmacies to target for adherence programs based on their current prescription history and activity. Pharmacies can also generate data to compare their adherence performance to the rest of the market segment and help prove the value of their pharmacy to preferred prescriber networks. MPS&A also is launching a cross-platform point-of-sale system and previewing a new Clinical Programs Solution.


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Q&A: Michelle Gilliam on bringing new patients into Health Mart stores


DSN had an opportunity to talk to Michelle Gilliam, director of Health Mart marketing about helping Health Mart owners and pharmacists promote their pharmacies their way. With more customizable tools and resources to promote their specific service offerings to local patients and prescribers, Health Mart stores can attract new patients and reinforce their value to existing patients.

DSN: Tell us about the Bring More Patients Space in the Health Mart pavilion at McKesson ideaShare this year.

Michelle Gilliam: Competition for patients is stronger than ever, which means that marketing your pharmacy is critical in today’s environment.  That is why Health Mart is constantly investing in new and innovative ways to help our stores compete from national advertising to local marketing tools that help stores promote themselves … their way. The Bring More Patients area at the McKesson ideaShare meeting is designed to showcase proven strategies for acquiring patients and promoting your pharmacy.  We are introducing a number of new marketing solutions and resources to help level the playing field so Health Mart stores can grow their businesses.

Health Mart continues to invest in national and local marketing tools to help owners attract new patients and reinforce their value to existing patients.  This year, Health Mart will launch an improved Marketing Hub experience, expanded Facebook program and new marketing support options. The remerchandised Marketing Hub features more than 400 customizable materials and turn-key solutions that enable stores to leverage the Health Mart brand and reinforce their local identity to promote their personalized services in their own way.  With more flexible matching funds, stores can quickly and cost-effectively implement a high impact marketing effort using a combination of offline and online activities.

DSN: You talk about national and local marketing. How does Health Mart’s national brand support the ability for local stores to promote themselves?

Gilliam:  Health Mart has made a significant investment in helping independent Health Mart pharmacies market to their local communities. This is done in two ways.  

First, we invest in national advertising with local impact.  One example is our latest campaign to help stores capture more Medicare Part D patients who might be switching pharmacies due to lower co-pays.  This multi-million dollar national campaign included national radio, regional TV, online ads as well as four Health Mart–branded armored cars serving as rolling billboards that visited more than 60 store locations.  The results from nearly 900 stores demonstrated an average increase of 12 new patients over 65 years old.

Secondly, Health Mart provides customizable tools to amplify the local impact of national campaigns like the Health Mart Healthy Living Tour or the June national radio ad campaign.  With hundreds of professional marketing tools developed by top creative agencies and media experts available through the Marketing Hub, stores can reach more customers and reinforce the Health Mart brand while promoting their specific capabilities and services. This enables Health Mart pharmacies to leverage the scale of a national brand while complementing their local identity.  

DSN: You seem to have expanded Health Mart’s definition of marketing, tell us about how stores leverage those tools.

Gilliam: As part of our comprehensive marketing effort, we have also invested heavily in other marketing solutions for both prescribers and consumer digital marketing.  Health Mart helps our pharmacies build stronger prescriber relationships and improve efficiency with the Physician Outreach Program. On the digital side, Health Marts can now use matching funds for targeted Facebook advertising, a subscription for automated posts or to have us help them build a page. We also continue to expand the Your Pharmacy Online web site and mobile app, providing cost-effective tools to support patient medication adherence and drive positive health outcomes while driving prescription refills.  

Go Digital – Get Found with Your Pharmacy Online: With new tools designed to provide patients with convenient, on-the-go prescription management, including refill reminders, Health Mart continues to expand our Your Pharmacy Online customizable website and mobile app. Patient medication history can now be integrated with all McKesson pharmacy management systems. Patients can opt-in to receive refill and pill reminders delivered via push notifications through the mobile app and pharmacists can provide status updates through push notifications, offering increased convenience for patients.

Know Your Prescribers – and Make Sure they Know You: By leveraging professionally created prescriber marketing materials, Heath Mart stores can encourage local prescribers to send patients to their pharmacy and gain a competitive edge in your market.  The Physician Outreach Program provides physician-specific data on more than 1.5 million prescribers. This year, McKesson is launching a redesigned website that provides enhanced prescriber tracking capabilities and easier prescriber specialty search functionality.  In a recent study, program users gained 12 more new prescribers and 40 more new patients than stores not using the Physician Outreach Program.

DSN: Independent pharmacists are pretty busy and don’t always think they can make time to market — do they have to do all of this by themselves?

Gilliam: While our pharmacies excel at local, personalized service, many don’t have the time, resources or experience to consistently and effectively market their capabilities to consumers. We help Health Mart owners market their way, whether they want to customize and place campaigns themselves or have us “do-it-for-them.”

This year, we have expanded the marketing support resources that enable Health Marts to get the expert help they need for better results — and save with Matching Funds.  For example, now stores can sign up for My Marketing Advisor with monthly calls with an experienced marketer or get a specific project completed from start to finish using matching funds. Stores in the My Marketing Advisor pilot saw a 14% increase in scripts compared with control stores. This is in addition to our Quick Help service, which offers live phone, email and online support with experts to help owners keep their marketing efforts on track.

As an example, running a local TV commercial can have a big impact on a pharmacy’s business, but developing one can feel daunting. That’s why we’ve done the heavy lifting so pharmacy owners can film their part in just 30 minutes at the McKesson ideaShare meeting. Health Mart will professionally direct, edit and deliver the video, and coordinate with television stations to fulfill the store’s media buy.  Designed to feature the pharmacist and local store contact information, the spot can focus on one of the five topics: the Health Mart brand, fast prescriptions and home delivery, Med Sync, Med D Open Enrollment (for use October through December) and Med D Savings (for use in January).

Whether they’re able to attend McKesson ideaShare or not, we encourage all Health Mart’s to visit the Marketing Hub to take advantage of flexible matching funds and professional marketing tools to leverage the scale of the national Health Mart brand and complements their local identity.


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