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New tools, digital portal put Health Mart owners on ‘Pathway’ to better clinical, business outcomes

BY Michael Johnsen

With all the challenges facing independent pharmacy today, there are also many opportunities for owners who are committed to driving greater efficiency both in the clinical as well as the operations side of the business, and are able to measure and demonstrate the value as healthcare shifts to an outcomes-based model. To help independents rise to the opportunity, McKesson unveiled a number of new solutions and tools at McKesson ideaShare 2016 last month in Chicago, including two that company executives are calling game-changing — the Health Mart Pathway to Better Pharmacy Performance and Profit℠ and myHealthMart℠.

Continuing with its mission to help level the playing field and enable independents to grow their business, Health Mart president Steve Courtman and chief pharmacist Crystal Lennartz walked Drug Store News through the two new solutions, how each works and talked about why pharmacy owners need to seriously consider adopting both, in a private interview from McKesson ideaShare.

According to Courtman, both the Health Mart Pathway and myHealthMart speak to the heart of a core strategy “to have the best patient outcomes in the marketplace,” he said.

“More than 2,000 of our stores now have quality measures in the top 20%, that’s 44% of our network — I want to be at 100%,” explained Courtman, acknowledging his fondness for making big, bold goals. “We want to be No. 1 across every pharmacy-related Star Rating measure for every single payer across the country.”

The new Health Mart Pathway is an easy-to-follow roadmap to help accomplish that, he said. “The industry is moving from fee-for-service to value-based reimbursement,” Courtman added. “With the Health Mart Pathway and other tools, we are enabling our independents to stay independent and to thrive,” Courtman said. “All of the things we are doing are about enabling our stores to be successful.”

“We’ve been on this journey with our customers for the last three years, helping them see what’s happening in the industry and getting educated around quality measures,” noted Crystal Lennartz, Health Mart chief pharmacist. “The Health Mart Pathway is really their words of how they went from one step to the next.”

The new Health Mart Pathway provides a strategic roadmap to help independent pharmacies enhance profitability and clinical performance, and demonstrate the value they can contribute to the local healthcare ecosystem. There are five key steps:

• Get educated on the challenges and opportunities. “Health Mart is the go-to adviser to help independent pharmacy owners to get educated and to set goals,” Courtman said. Actions for success include staying up-to-date on current events and policies effecting retail pharmacy and knowing how the clinical measures impact your revenue. Health Mart provides a number of tools to assist with this, Courtman explained, including access to EQuIPP™, a performance information management platform that makes unbiased, benchmarked performance data available to health provider stakeholders offered via Pharmacy Quality Solutions, a leading provider of performance management services for payer and pharmacy organizations; AccessHealth Managed Care Solutions; and Health Mart University.

In addition Health Mart also leverages a peer-to-peer approach to learning. Last year, it hosted more than 100 local Town Hall meetings across the country. “We use owners to educate and share barriers and how they overcame things,” Lennartz said. “We’ll take that same approach this year with the Health Mart Pathway.”

McKesson also hosted a special Health Mart Peer Networking Session during McKesson ideaShare 2016, with both Health Mart operators as well as regional McKesson staff on hand to help share best practices. “Our Health Mart owners want to make Health Mart better,” Courtman said. 



• Monitor clinical and financial performance. This includes setting baseline performance measures and creating an action plan for pharmacy staff on how to improve those performance measures. “You can’t manage what you can’t measure,” Courtman said.

myHealthMart, an online portal, which also debuted at McKesson ideaShare, enables Health Mart pharmacies to proactively measure business and clinical performance, providing access to personalized, up-to-date data and insights about their own pharmacy operations.



• Adopt medication synchronization. Adopting med sync in order to offer more robust patient care and revenue-generating services “is probably the toughest change to make in store because it’s impacting operations and workflow,” Courtman said. “To help take some of the risk out of the equation, Health Mart has hired an implementation team of experienced pharmacists to go out to Health Mart locations to help owners navigate the changes. Med Sync allows independent pharmacies to improve efficiency and increase capacity without adding staff, and enables pharmacists to identify additional patient needs at the medication pickup,” he explained.

• Engage the patient during pickup. After implementing med sync, Health Mart pharmacists can use the monthly appointments to review adherence barriers, identify possible gaps in care and provide such additional clinical services as a flu vaccination or a comprehensive medication review. “It’s about reinvesting in your business — developing the patient services that will help you engage the patient during pickup,” Courtman said.

• Build deeper provider partnerships. “Providers want to send you patients because you provide better care,” Courtman said. “Build this credibility, collect these outcomes and demonstrate the value of these patient relationships.” Health Mart tools to support independent operators in this effort include the Health Mart Marketing Hub and the Physician Outreach Program, he explained.

“Health Mart values the independent’s identity and the Health Mart Pathway helps our customers thrive and overcome some of the challenges within the industry,” Erin Kiri, senior manager brand strategy at Health Mart, told Drug Store News. “Change is very hard. The Health Mart Pathway is really meant to help them navigate through those changes.”

Introducing myHealthMart
To get a better appreciation of the new myHealthMart portal, Drug Store News sat down with John Priskorn, senior director retail solutions development at McKesson.

MyHealthMart provides a complete picture of their pharmacy’s clinical and business performance and one-stop access to Health Mart programs and resources, he explained. “The overarching theme of the myHealthMart platform is to create one-click access to various programs, services and data that Health Mart, as well as our third-party partners, are offering,” Priskorn said. “We also have a centralized place for all the various Health Mart educational, clinical and marketing programs that we offer.”

Using myHealthMart, pharmacies can access personalized reports and dashboards that enable them to see how their decisions are impacting their business, and set custom goals to help track their progress toward business growth and performance targets. Finally, real-time notifications keep customers up-to-date on the information they need to know to deliver better patient outcomes and strengthen their competitive position.

“The roadmap is first to show the data — to get that data into our customer’s hands,” Priskorn said. “The second step is benchmarking,” he said, which will be folded into the myHealthMart offering going forward. “The third and final step is to be more prescriptive about how you improve. If you’re not benchmarking well against some of your peers, we want to provide some very prescriptive actions in this platform.”

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Expanded collaborative practice agreements, turnkey program to help independents take the ‘pain’ out of vaccination start-ups

BY Michael Johnsen

Last month McKesson and Health Mart announced a broad expansion of its Collaborative Practice Agreements (CPAs) as part of the many new clinical-performance initiatives introduced at 2016 McKesson ideaShare. The program, which was first introduced last fall in two states, now covers 37 of the 40 states that require a CPA to prescribe and administer eligible immunizations to patients.

“McKesson’s CPA program helps pharmacies stay competitive and save time — the turnkey program means owners don’t have to create their own contracts,” explained Callie Barr, associate program manager of retail pharmacy product development at McKesson. Barr sat with Drug Store News during McKesson ideaShare for an in-depth discussion on how the company’s CPAs and the Vaccine Starter Kit are enabling McKesson’s independent pharmacy operators to better engage the patient during pickup — which incidentally is the fourth step of the Health Mart Pathway to Better Pharmacy Performance and Profit℠, unveiled for the first time at McKesson ideaShare last month.

The CPAs help many pharmacies get over the hurdle of adding vaccination services, Barr explained. “Sometimes vaccines can be the gateway to more complex clinical services,” Barr said. “If the pharmacy can get comfortable with providing that level of patient care with vaccines, then they can expand past that to find different ways to diversify their revenue.”

As more adults get their vaccinations in the pharmacy setting, McKesson and Health Mart are making sure independent pharmacies can take advantage of this service to retain and gain new patients and generate new revenue streams. On the McKesson ideaShare exhibit floor this year, McKesson hosted the Vaccination Nation pavilion, a one-stop-shop for immunization resources, enabling McKesson customers to easily connect with manufacturers at the show, get questions answered and pre-book flu vaccines for the 2016-2017 influenza season.

“While influenza is certainly the entry point for many pharmacies incorporating vaccinations into their clinical service offerings — as many as 25% of patients now get their flu shots at their local pharmacy — the opportunity extends well beyond flu season. Adult immunizations are the next step — shingles, pneumococcal, those types of vaccines, and depending on state law, some pharmacies may also be able to offer children’s vaccines. The next big opportunity lies in travel vaccinations,” added Barr.

Health Mart’s Guide to Pharmacy Immunizations, available to all McKesson customers, guides stores through the key steps for establishing a pharmacy-based immunization program, including reimbursement, standing orders, emergency planning, adverse events, and storage and handling.  With the Health Mart Vaccine Starter Kit, pharmacies get the next-level of support that includes one year of high-touch personal coaching on how to get their vaccine services up and running, how to market to consumers in order to generate additional revenue.

Specifically, Health Mart’s comprehensive vaccine support benefits include state-specific regulatory guidelines and collaborative practice agreement templates from Bula Law, a provider of pharmacy regulatory solutions; Medicare Part B enrollment guidance for reimbursement; access to a full portfolio of flu and core vaccines, product ordering information and guidance navigating McKesson Connect; comprehensive start-up guide outlining all aspects for starting a vaccine business; online training through Health Mart University and resources for certification courses near operators’ stores; and customizable marketing materials and best practices to promote the service locally to patients and prescribers.

“From talking to so many of our customers who are doing vaccines, they kind of have to do it now,” Barr added. “The big-box pharmacies are all giving immunizations; they could lose a patient who goes to one of those stores, gets a flu shot and decides to move all their prescriptions there.”
“Vaccines offer a unique revenue opportunity for stores,” added Robin Page, Health Mart regional franchise director, during a morning educational session at McKesson ideaShare, titled “Winning in Today’s Evolving Pharmacy Performance Environment,” which was sponsored by AccessHealth, McKesson’s managed care solution.

“We’re finding a lot of independents still are not doing immunizations,” Page said. “By changing the conversation with your patients, they see you in a different light,” she added. “They see you as a person who can take care of them — not just their physicians.”

Page advised pharmacists take a five-step process to optimize the opportunity in vaccines:

  • Analyze the local community patient base and identify which vaccinations they need.
  • Talk to patients when they’re picking up their prescriptions about the vaccinations available to them through the pharmacy.
  • Reach out to local physicians and Medicare Part D administrators and make sure they know about the availability of your vaccination program.
  • Contact local schools and government offices to make sure they’re supporting their local businesses.
  • Last, change the perception in the community that pharmacy is just a prescription dispensary. “We are in the healthcare business. Make sure people know that,” Page concluded.

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RxOwnership luncheon emphasizes efforts to ‘keep independents independent’

BY David Salazar

Since it began in 2008, McKesson’s RxOwnership has helped more than 3,500 pharmacy owners buy, sell or start their own pharmacy business in an attempt to, as RxOwnership national VP Chris Cella told Drug Store News, “keep independents independent.” Cella participated in an “Ask the Experts” panel with three longtime RxOwnership collaborators at McKesson ideaShare 2016 to help potential pharmacy owners and sellers understand RxOwnership’s services and the work required to break into being a small business owner.

The panel, moderated by RxOwnership northeast region ownership adviser Tammy McDonald, saw Cella discuss the finer points of buying, selling and starting pharmacies with Waypoint Strategic Advisors founder Rick Coakley, Live Oak Bank pharmacy division general manager Jimmy Neil and former RxOwnership national VP and current managing director of First Financial Bank’s professional services division Bob Graul.

The panelists discussed the resources that RxOwnership provides for no fee to would-be owners, including tools for helping customers figure out the basics of their pharmacy, from a demographic breakdown of their local market to the number of prescriptions being written in the area, and tools to help them project when they might begin to see ROI on a new store, in addition to financial advising and other resources.

But the process begins, at least for start-up pharmacies, with what they’re hoping to contribute to the independent pharmacy space that can differentiate them from competitors.

“You've got to be able to tell me why patients want to come to your store from where they're currently going,” Cella told Drug Store News. “It's extremely important with a start-up that the business plan is done, that it's done right and that you understand it's a living document that needs to be reviewed constantly. It's not something you just submit to the bank to get your loan and then tuck away for the rest of your career.”

One of the major themes that emerged from the panel was the need for potential owners to become informed about the industry, where it is headed and the work that comes with getting a pharmacy off the ground — especially when it can take several months for a pharmacy to break even.

Coakley told luncheon attendees, “There is some personal sacrifice in starting up your own business or buying your own business, and it's important to think about that and take care of that personal side.”

Owners looking to sell their pharmacy face their own set of challenges, Cella explained, that RxOwnership can help them overcome. Cella emphasized the need to have at least a five-year plan to exit the business, rather than what he calls the “fire sale” approach of deciding to sell and trying to do so the next day.

For new owners looking to purchase a pharmacy, perhaps even more important than actually being a pharmacist is the desire to be involved in every area to help grow the business. That starts with knowing what sort of pharmacy you want to run; RxOwnership can help narrow down the search among its database of pharmacies to match the buyer.

“As a lender, what I’ve seen in the last 20 plus years is: Are you an active investor and participant in the business?” Live Oak’s Neil asked attendees. “Are you there working it all day long solving problems, motivating and leading people, innovating, inventing, doing the things you need to do to differentiate? To me that's more important than whether you’re a pharmacist or not.”

The end goal of assisting three different types of clients to open, buy and sell a pharmacy, as well as the outreach efforts RxOwnership makes to entrepreneurial pharmacy students, is to provide better health care to communities. And ultimately that often means helping independent pharmacies remain independent — even after an owner decides it’s time to move on.

“We’re finding that independents are more prepared for the changes in health care,” Cella said. “The switch from fee-for-service to pay-for-performance is more geared toward an independent. There are numerous studies done by the National Community Pharmacists Association and the American Pharmacists Association showing that the independent pharmacy owner and the independent pharmacist are better healthcare providers.”

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