McKesson ideaShare 2016 closes with emphasis on taking initiative to grow business, enhance services
The focus on education at McKesson ideaShare 2016 certainly did not stop when the Exhibit Floor opened, as there were Health Mart University Live and other continuing education sessions, including “Leveraging medication synchronization to optimize patient care,” “Driving change management,” “How to create a digital footprint, “How to turn the store into a wellness destination,” “Developing effective marketing programs” and more.
In all, McKesson ideaShare hosted more than 30 CE sessions over the course of the conference. Drug Store News reporters sat in on a number of the sessions over the course of ideaShare. Following is a brief recap from a few of them:
Syncing to improve patient care
As the chief of innovation and co-founder of Creative Pharmacist, David Pope is an expert in helping to bring together retail and clinical pharmacy — “something that is very much on the mind of independent pharmacists looking to improve patient health by expanding the services they offer as well as opening up new revenue streams for their businesses,” he said.
“One of the cornerstones of starting a clinical program is medication synchronization, which uses an appointment-based model that pharmacists can leverage to manage workflow and better optimize patients interactions, carving out time to perform such clinical interventions as diabetes education, medication therapy management and weight-loss counseling, among other services,” he explained.
“Everyone is syncing now, and the question is can you make that appointment an impactful moment in the life of that patient that you might use to improve outcomes?” Pope told the Health Mart University Live class. “Leveraging that sync appointment is the bedrock and springboard for what you could do in the future to optimize patient care, because really what we’re doing now is managing chronic care patients. … Connecting and engaging with patients to improve their health is the key.”
Using vulnerability to bring about change
Over the past several years, independent pharmacists have seen their business model change fundamentally, explained Kelley Babcock, who works with Pharmacy Development Services’ business coaching and management team.
Babcock, part of the Health Mart University Live CE lineup at McKesson ideaShare last month, was on hand to help attendees learn to embrace change and drive the kind of transformation necessary in their businesses to become more of a clinical services provider, unlocking profitability while improving patient health.
Babcock told attendees that vulnerability — which isn’t necessarily something people want to embrace — is a necessary first step toward bringing about change. Once business owners make themselves vulnerable and decide to embrace change, they can move on to developing a change management model and implementing it in their stores.
“You might not feel comfortable with the concept of change, but you’ll be a little more comfortable with how you begin the change management process,” Babcock said. “Because only then will you be able to accelerate to get the results you want and to lead that change with the confidence that not only you deserve, but that quite honestly your teams deserve.”
Using digital marketing to engage patients beyond the store
Many independent pharmacies know that the Internet is a force in their lives that’s here to stay, but getting found online, building a brand on social media and creating a marketing database to extend the one-on-one patient interaction beyond their stores can be a daunting task. With her Health Mart University Live course, Ebus Innovation chief idea officer Elizabeth Estes helped attendees figure out which strategies to implement as a way of growing digital customer engagement in ways that extend beyond Facebook.
Estes highlighted the importance of having digital listings on search engines and business listing sites, creating a mobile-optimized website for their business and the importance of creating a content calendar around when to plan marketing initiatives and social media posts.
“Think about what’s been happening in the market and what you want your brand to be,” Estes said. “Are you a healthcare leader? Are you a member of your community and you’re proud because you’ve been there for years? Think about the things that make a difference to the people that are going to see it.”
Estes said that “creating a strong digital presence begins with asking “what if” and taking chances, evaluating the performance of your efforts and repeating what works. Even though digital strategy might be out of your comfort zone, taking time to grow a digital presence will build customer loyalty — even if it means asking for help,” she said.
Carving out a niche to become a destination
As the ways healthcare is delivered change, independent pharmacies must position themselves to be their patients’ go-to resource when it comes to wellness. Hamacher Resource Group VP strategic relations Dave Wendland helped McKesson ideaShare 2016 attendees better understand the market conditions that have changed the nature of their business, how they can build on their strengths, leverage community outreach efforts and how niche marketing can help independents succeed.
Wendland noted that independents already have an advantage over chains, in that they are locally owned and provide higher quality service. By combining those strengths with store strategies that shift consumers’ perceptions of the pharmacy to being a place for wellness essentials and that place the pharmacist as the most accessible healthcare professional, pharmacies can adapt to the changing healthcare environment by focusing on front-store wellness offerings and encouraging patient engagement, even getting out into the front of the store more often.
“An independent’s strength,” Wendland said, “is in knowing what makes them different, which he said should be the basis of any effort to make a pharmacy into a wellness destination. Patients will look for something that makes a location unique, and owners can help them in that process by trying out new ideas.”
And Wendland emphasized that owners need not tackle the challenge of carving out a niche alone. “You’ve got resources in your community, in your family, on the web — tap them,” he said. “Nobody will be more anxious to help your business survive than people you ask for help. So reach out; don’t be too proud.”
Making marketing work
Getting started in marketing is as easy as setting specific, focused goals and knowing the audience you’re trying to reach. That was the message from Kevin Joyce, SVP at EMG3 in his session at McKesson ideaShare 2016.
“Oftentimes what happens with pharmacies is they either don’t embark on marketing because they don’t know how to approach it or they get stuck in a rut of doing the same thing over and over again, and they don’t monitor, iterate and ultimately evolve to make their plan more successful,” Joyce said. “Even once a marketing plan is in place, pharmacies need to react to the results of their efforts and adjust accordingly to reach their audience.”
Key to this, more than ever, is having a digital plan, but also knowing how to complement it through multimedia advertising that can bolster an online presence. Additionally, one of the biggest ways to market the business can be leveraging one of independent pharmacy’s strengths — its place in the local community.
“More than ever you’ve got to have a strong online presence for virtually all audiences,” Joyce said. “Sometimes print’s the right thing, sometimes TV is the right thing. But almost always, community outreach, local partnerships and giving local pharmacies the opportunity to flex their local muscles can be a real key to success.”
VIDEO: Health Mart marks accomplishments, looks toward future
Many accomplishments were highlighted and goals were set at this year's McKesson ideaShare 2016. From 50% growth over the last three years to 4,700 Health Mart stores to being recognized for superior customer service, McKesson and Health Mart executives praised owners and operators.
"We are recognized as a leader in the evolution of pharmacy," said Health Mart president Steve Courtman. "We have the scale and we have the performance. … Forty-four percent of you have metrics in the top 20%, and we are either No. 1 or No. 2 for adherence for many plans across the country."
Watch the video above to hear more of the accomplishments, and click here to view complete coverage of McKesson ideaShare 2016.
Health Mart looks to be a partner in independents’ journey to expand clinical services
It is by now a well-established fact that the healthcare landscape is currently undergoing a massive shift from a fee-for-service to a value-based payment model, and that will create new opportunities for community pharmacy to play an expanded role in healthcare delivery, helping to drive improved health outcomes and opening up new revenue streams. The challenge for the independent owner is how to implement the host of new clinical services that will be required to participate in this expanded pharmacy care model — and where to begin.
The message from McKesson to Health Mart owners: you need not go it alone.
That is the central idea behind the new Health Mart Pathway to Better Pharmacy Performance and ProfitSM which Health Mart president Steve Courtman unveiled at the Health Mart Annual Meeting on June 28. The Health Mart Pathway — which is simultaneously a way for pharmacists to self-evaluate where they are in shifting their business model and see what resources Health Mart can offer to help achieve their goals — includes five key steps to help independent pharmacies enhance profitability and clinical performance, and demonstrate the value of their services to payers.
The third step in the Health Mart Pathway, adopting medication synchronization, can be absolutely crucial in helping independent pharmacies move toward more robust clinical offerings — from medication therapy management to immunization, diabetes centers and collaborative relationships with local providers — according to a panel of pharmacists moderated by Health Mart chief pharmacist Crystal Lennartz at the Health Mart Annual Meeting last month.
Among the panelists was Tony Willoughby, president of Texas-based Thrive Pharmacy Solutions who, at the panel — and in a separate continuing education session on the subject — noted that his practice was able to anticipate pain points among local providers and partner with them in ways that reduced the office’s workload. “Med sync allowed the provider to see the value his pharmacy could deliver even without a pre-existing partnership,” he said.
“Med sync was the door to open that up, and rather than just go in and give a presentation about all the services that the pharmacy offered, they had more of a discussion about 'What are you seeing, what are your pain points and how can I help with that?’” VP Health Mart network performance Stacey Irving told Drug Store News in a separate interview. “I think we'll see a move toward more of our pharmacies taking that approach with providers.”
But it can take time to get there, and Irving’s team, which includes three pharmacists in the field who work with Health Mart customers to guide them through the process of implementing med sync, is also identifying best practices from these hands-on customer experiences to create new tools that could benefit the broader network.
As that happens, though, Lennartz and Irving both underscored the importance of getting staff onboard in making any operational changes, especially in terms of getting a med sync program off the ground. In fact, getting staff invested in the effort was something that panelist and pharmacist-owner Josh Borer — whose Atlantic, Iowa-based Rex Pharmacy won the McKesson Pharmacy of the Year grand prize award at ideaShare 2016 — said was essential to his pharmacy’s success.
“Patient outcomes were the main focus that everyone bought into, the idea that we can actually make a difference in our community — that was true from the pharmacist to the technician to the cashiers out front,” Borer told Drug Store News. “The entire staff had buy-in because they all played a role in helping identify patients who might be a target for our med sync program. It really included everyone, and I think that was how we got through that challenge of retooling our workflow.”
Lennartz noted that in addition to using Health Mart University, independent pharmacists also can look to each other for guidance — which was the spirit behind both the Health Mart Annual Meeting panel she moderated, as well as several other peer-to-peer sharing sessions and networking events McKesson hosted as part of McKesson ideaShare 2016.
“One of our strengths at Health Mart is the peer-to-peer approach — Health Marts making other Health Marts stronger,” Lennartz said. “We can help provide a baseline of education, but then they share best practices and ideas with each other and help move each other further along.”
The advantages that individual pharmacies see through enhanced clinical performance reverberate through the entire Health Mart network.
“The vision is to not only have scale from a store count perspective, but also to build a high-performance network,” Lennartz said. “And we've been able to make strides with that — more than 44% of our Health Mart customers have one or more Star Rating pharmacy-related quality measures in the top 20%, and that has doubled for us over the last year or so. It takes time to make a change and improve performance, but the message is getting out there and the stores are activating.”
The Health Mart Pathway to Better Pharmacy Performance and ProfitSM will play an integral role in the activation of Health Mart stores and the network, which Irving said “has to do both with the resources it offers and the way it allows pharmacists to break down the task of growing their business into smaller steps — efforts that can add up to a pharmacy over a period of time that at first might be unrecognizable to an owner.
“It's a little overwhelming to say ‘Change your whole business and go to value-based reimbursement and reinvent pharmacy,’” Irving explained. “It's just too much. To hear someone talk about that scale of change, and to think about having to go it alone — that's too big. The Health Mart Pathway breaks it down into smaller, manageable pieces. … So suddenly you're operating at the top of your license, and you realize 'Wow, I’ve accomplished a lot over the last few years but it was in manageable chunks.’”