PHARMACY

The mark of a winner

BY Michael Johnsen

SAN DIEGO — Four regional Health Mart pharmacies were recognized for their excellence with nominations for McKesson’s Pharmacy of the Year award, here at McKesson ideaShare 2015. Drug Store News caught up with each of the finalists in a series of one-on-one interviews at this year’s event, and it became clear that three traits were common among them.

First, each of the innovative Health Mart pharmacies were early adopters of many of the programs offered through Health Mart and McKesson, such as the Physician Outreach Program.  Designed to help Heath Mart stores gain a competitive edge in their market by building relationships with local prescribers the program  not only helps increase their patient base but also builds the stature each Health Mart has in its community.

More recently, McKesson has been emphasizing the need for independent pharmacies to implement a medication synchronization program, with a short-term goal to get 100 patients enrolled. “When we started this we actually went and marketed to 50 primary care doctors in our area, explaining to them this is what we’re going to be doing, this is how we’re going to reach out to your patients and this is how it’s going to help you,” Chas McCormick, owner of First State Health Mart Pharmacy in Wilmington, Del., told DSN. “It’s rewarding when we see something work.”

A second trait the winners share is they recognize the need to keep trying new things and looking for ways to improve the care they provide. McKesson ideaShare represents value each year because of the number of new, fresh ideas independent pharmacy owners can take home and implement in their own businesses, they said. “You cannot be status quo; you have to invest in ideas and innovation,” Shushma Patel, owner of The Prescription Shop Health Mart Pharmacy in Montebello, Calif., said. “You have to be innovative to succeed in today’s environment.”

Lastly, each of this year’s finalists weren’t merely focused on delivering good customer service. They were fanatical about it. The men and women who walked through their doors weren’t just customers or patients; they were family. “It’s a family business,” Jacob Johnson, co-owner of the Marble City Health Mart in Sylacauga, Ala., noted. “Treating employees like family, treating customers like family, it’s important. You can have all the programs you want to try to get your employees to understand your vision and buy in, but in a small environment like ours you can show them every day,” he said.

Taking that quality time with both employees and patients has certainly paid dividends for Marble City Health Mart, which was named the 2015 Pharmacy of the Year grand prizewinner by McKesson.

The editors and publishers of DSN salute the owners and the team at Marble City Health Mart, and the three other finalists — The Prescription Shop Health Mart Pharmacy, First State Health Mart Pharmacy and Towncrest Health Mart Pharmacy in Iowa City, Iowa.

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PHARMACY

Health Mart leaders reflect on year of massive accomplishment at group’s annual meeting

BY Michael Johnsen

SAN DIEGO – Health Mart is taking patient relationships to the next level.

That was the key message Steve Courtman, Health Mart president, had for the standing room-only crowd of Health Mart pharmacy owners at the Health Mart annual meeting during McKesson ideaShare 2015. Courtman, who was led to the stage by a 12-piece marching band, shared his excitement about Health Mart’s major growth and massive accomplishments, and set the bar even higher for next year.

“We continue to enhance our quality, and it’s all built on the foundation of these great patient relationships,” said Courtman. “Your focus on monitoring EQuIPP to improve your quality outcomes is working — Health Mart exceeded the CMS Five Star goal in 2-of-the-3 adherence metrics, and we’re getting close to the Five Star goal on the high-risk meds measure.”

According to Courtman, more than 25% of the Health Mart stores are in the top 20% of all pharmacies in at least one measure. That’s good — but it is clear that good isn’t good enough for Health Mart’s top executive. “The Five Star goals are good, but we need to strive to be top 20% as a whole Health Mart network. Quality is what separates us from the competition,” he explained.

Health Mart’s focus on medication therapy management is also paying off, Courtman said. “In 2014, Health Mart stores were hard at work executing Mirixa MTM cases,” he said. “At our peak, we reached 70% of patients. The personal relationship you have with your patients helps you to have effective conversations, and these result in best-in-class MTM performance.”

And other independents are taking notice of the results at Health Mart. In the past 18 months, Health Mart membership has grown 25% Courtman reported, with the group now numbering more than 4,000 stores and growing fast. “Payers are seeking out Health Mart to discuss how to improve quality,” he said. “Health Mart is the best of a chain and the best of an independent because we can come together to create real change in the marketplace.”

To help Health Mart owners better compete for senior pharmacy patients, Health Mart introduced a Medicare Part D marketing package. “Seniors with their average 33 prescription fills per year are quite important to us,” he said. Medicare Part D open enrollment begins in October, and the plan changes go into effect Jan. 1. “The chains will be very active in and around both these dates, and so must we.”

To prepare independents for open enrollment, Health Mart offered  “guides, webinars, experts to help you learn what to do to get ready and deliver plan reviews so customers understand what their options are.”

Another key focus this year for Health Mart is the adoption of medication synchronization to drive outcomes, grow prescriptions and profits, and generally improve the overall pharmacist workflow. Med Sync programs are helping independent pharmacists transition toward a more patient-centric consultation model.

“Our businesses are at an inflection point,” noted Tony Willoughby, VP and Health Mart chief pharmacist. “In my view, Med Sync is driving us back to how pharmacy was meant to be practiced, and quite honestly, it’s where independent pharmacists are great.”

Willoughby brought Health Mart owners Ramesh Upadhyayula, Desert Outpatient Hospital Pharmacy, CA, and Randy McDonough, Towncrest Pharmacy, IA,  to the stage to discuss the transition in their businesses toward a patient-centric model.

“Gaining access to networks, bringing new patients into the store and expanding services: all three are necessary to help independent owners make that transition to a patient-centric care model,” Courtman said. “Let’s be specific as to what you can start today,” he said. “Be a top 20% performer as defined by EQuIPP, develop a Med D marketing plan to bring patients into your store and get at least 100 patients into a Med Sync program. This is about action. Get engaged. Become more involved.”

Health Mart also introduced a new award this year at the group’s Annual Meeting. Created to celebrate the unique qualities that set independent pharmacies apart, the first annual Health Mart Independent Spirit Awards went to three stores: Central Avenue Health Mart Pharmacy in Valley City, N.D.; Eden Drug Health Mart Pharmacy in Eden, N.C.; and Ben Franklin Apothecary in Duncanville, Texas.

Winners were given $1,500 to donate to the charity of their choice.

The Health Mart Annual Meeting closed with a presentation from motivational speaker Mike Robbins, author of the best-selling self-help books, including “Nothing Changes Until You Do,” “Focus on the Good Stuff” and “Be Yourself, Everybody Else is Taken.” Robbins, a one-time, up-and-coming pitcher in the minor leagues whose professional baseball career was cut short by an elbow injury, urged Health Mart owners to focus on their mindset, to be authentic in their interactions and to harness the power of appreciation. “You, as an owner and a leader, can really shift your mindset and perspective, and create the kind of change you want to see happen for you and the people around you,” he said.

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PHARMACY

Ateb appoints two new executives

BY Lesley Thulin

RALEIGH, N.C. — Ateb announced Tuesday that it had appointed Mike Cantrell as VP for pharmacy network development and Mike Roberts as the director of analytics and pharmacy programs. Both will report to President and CEO Frank Sheppard.

“Mike’s extensive analytical knowledge, combined with his experience as a pharmacist operating pharmacy organizations, will aid Ateb as we strive to deliver measurable pharmacy-based patient care solutions,” Sheppard said.

As VP, Cantrell will develop quality-focused provider networks that manage healthcare costs and use community pharmacists to deliver care.

“We strongly believe that reducing healthcare costs through improved medication adherence and pharmacy-patient engagement is the answer to realizing true savings in the new healthcare ecosystem,” Sheppard said. “Cantrell’s experience will prove valuable as we develop solutions to position pharmacists as leaders in patient care.”

At the center of Ateb’s portfolio of medication synchronization solutions for independent and chain pharmacies is its patient management access portal at the center, which includes a Time My Meds med sync solution.

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