Nightengale focuses on delivering value to independent pharmacy in new role
Brian Nightengale, the new President of Good Neighbor Pharmacy, emphasized AmerisourceBergen’s commitment to independent pharmacy and delivering value to its customers at his first ThoughtSpot tradeshow this year.
“I believe Good Neighbor Pharmacy has a big role to play in the success and growth of our community customers,” Nightengale shared with Drug Store News in an exclusive interview at ThoughtSpot 2016. “What I hope to accomplish with our team is that as we continue to grow and provide really important services through Good Neighbor Pharmacy, that we deliver a best-in-class customer experience for our pharmacies, and that the solutions and services are strategically relevant to their business strategy.”
Infusing relevance into everything that Good Neighbor Pharmacy provides its member pharmacies is an oft-repeated theme among AmerisourceBergen executives. “Working together as partners, we’re growing together,” Nightengale said. “[For example], there’s a lot going on out there in the reimbursement space, and we need to help our pharmacies be economically viable and competitive in the future.”
Last year AmerisourceBergen introduced the Elevate Provider Network, which bundles managed care services with pre- and post-edit, reconciliation and a patient engagement center to help track and manage Star ratings, MTM and patient adherence. “Since launching Elevate Provider Network last year, more than 2,300 of our members have taken full advantage of all of the features of our network, driving growth and improving outcomes in their pharmacies,” Nightengale told attendees at ThoughtSpot 2016. And member pharmacies are outperforming the overall market, including chains, to the tune of 3.4% year-over-year prescription growth vs. 1.9% growth industry-wide.
AmerisourceBergen provides a number of solutions to its independent owners, most notably its Good Neighbor Pharmacy Premier program, which provides expert business guidance on how to tactically manage a community pharmacy operation, from marketing and advertising to customer service and inventory management. “Through one-on-one coaching, Good Neighbor Pharmacy Premier is the most effective program we offer to our independent pharmacy customers,” Nightengale said. Premier pharmacies decreased on-hand inventory by 12% without compromising customer service and realized a 5% increase in sales-per-employee on average, Nightengale noted. “[These] are just two proof points of the impact that our premier-level services can have on your practice and profit margin.”
Good Neighbor Pharmacy has invested in several programs, Nightengale added, including a 17-store pilot program in the Dallas market that features an optimized front-end planogram that’s driving a 5% increase in unit sales vs. a control group. In addition, there is the POS At-A-Glance Report Card, the Temporary Price Reduction Program and Good Neighbor Pharmacy TV.
Good Neighbor Pharmacy is also supporting immunization efforts and extensions into specialty pharmacy.
Nightengale is rooted in independent pharmacy, he shared at the ThoughtSpot 2016 General Session. He graduated from the University of Oklahoma College of Pharmacy in 1990 following the influence of a family friend, who was a local independent pharmacist.
“I grew up in a very small farming community and [at first] wanted to be a veterinarian,” he said. But a day spent with Rick Hill, a pharmacist at Scheffe’s Pharmacy in Enid, Okla., changed all of that. “After shadowing him for a day, and a transformational dinner discussion, I changed my major the next week,” he said. “Over the next 10 years, I worked for three outstanding independent pharmacists who taught me the importance of putting patients first, being innovative and embracing an entrepreneurial spirt.”
In addition to Good Neighbor Pharmacy, Nightengale will oversee AmerisourceBergen’s PSAO, the Elevate Provider Network, which is comprised of more than 4,500 pharmacies.
Nightengale brings to both Good Neighbor Pharmacy and the Elevate Provider Network an expertise in pharmacy reimbursement. He was most recently president of Xcenda, where he guided the company in its mission to deliver the strategic consulting guidance, actionable market insights and tactical support services that manufacturers need to optimize product launches and ensure optimal patient access to those products. He provides expertise and insights related to market access strategies, health economics and comparative effectiveness research.
Nightengale also serves on the National Community Pharmacists Association’s Innovation Center Board of Directors, where he helps develop and execute education and empowerment tools to help community pharmacists realize the opportunities in an evolving healthcare market.
And while Nightengale is a welcome addition to the Good Neighbor Pharmacy team, AmerisourceBergen’s top brass shared a heartfelt farewell to outgoing president Dave Neu, who is retiring after a storied 34-year career. “His accomplishments are too many to mention in just a few moments. But what we can say is that Dave has been a tremendous business leader in the healthcare industry and advocate for you and your essential craft — a legacy that we will carry forward and build upon,” noted Steve Collis, AmerisourceBergen Chairman, President and CEO.
ThoughtSpot 2016 puts focus on patient care
When he took the stage at Good Neighbor Pharmacy’s ThoughtSpot 2016 General Session, AmerisourceBergen Chairman, President and CEO Steve Collis shared with attendees that though pharmacy is going through a period of change and consolidation, and that independent community pharmacists are uniquely positioned to capitalize on these changes. Their main asset, he said, is the ability to set themselves apart through their patient-centered approach and relationship-driven care.
“As daunting as industry consolidation may be, there are ample opportunities for community pharmacy to sustain and grow its critical role in patient care,” Collis said before highlighting two patient care trends: a population with 1-in-4 people being 60 years old or older and a more collaborative interaction expected between patients and health providers.
The need to focus on patients was central to ThoughtSpot 2016’s theme — Time for Care. According to AmerisourceBergen Drug Corporation President Bob Mauch, the main way the company and Good Neighbor Pharmacy ensure pharmacists have time for their patients is by being a strategic partner that can meet its customers needs. Mauch said these needs are partially gleaned from working in the field talking to customers, a process that led the company to conclude that patient care was the independent pharmacist’s top priority, and “that if it's most important for our customers, then it's most important to us.”
“The service we provide is about making sure [pharmacists] have time to care for their patients,” Mauch told Drug Store News. “They shouldn't have to worry about what's going on with the wholesaler. They should be 100% sure that a product is going to show up, and they'll have it to treat the patient that day. … Every decision we make, there's a patient on the end of it, and therefore, we make better decisions as a result.”
ThoughtSpot 2016’s Innovation & Technology showcase gave attendees an overview of the technological offerings they have access to through Good Neighbor Pharmacy and the Elevate Provider Network that help them care for patients. Among the tools available is the PrescribeWellness-powered Patient Engagement Center, which uses claim-level patient data to help pharmacists track adherence.
The Patient Engagement Center (pictured above) can identify patients between 70% and 80% adherent, allowing the pharmacists to see which patients can quickly be brought to 80% adherence and allowing them to focus on other patients. Users also can sort patients to view different adherence levels by disease state. In addition to the Patient Engagement Center, PrescribeWellness offers pharmacies PrescribeMedicare, a tool that helps patients who are Medicare beneficiaries choose the best plan for them.
Continuing education (CE) courses throughout ThoughtSpot 2016 also emphasized how to make patient-centered care a priority. CE courses about putting the customer first went beyond the pharmacy counter, with AmerisourceBergen retail business coach Paul Satterfield broadening the definition of care to the front of store in his CE sessions. The most important thing Satterfield emphasized across his courses was the potential in a companion sale — a pharmacist-suggested OTC product that the pharmacist places in the patient’s hand.
According to the JD Power 2015 Pharmacy Study*, 57% of Good Neighbor Pharmacy’s customers, who speak to a pharmacist, spend more on OTC purchases. The return for a strong pharmacy experience is clear. The key for pharmacists, according to Good Neighbor Pharmacy Vice President of Business Coaching and Pharmacy Ownership, Jennifer Zilka, is seeing this as an additional component of providing the best care.
“They're clinicians and when they're suggesting, or upselling a product, they feel like they're doing just that,” Zilka told Drug Store News. “And we encourage them to look at it not as a “sales-y” approach, rather as making sure the patient has everything they need to be healthy. … It's another opportunity for pharmacists to engage patients clinically — and reinforce their position as a source of care in their community.”
Elevate Provider Network Patient Engagement Center
*J.D. Power, McGraw Hill Financial, 2015 U.S. Pharmacy Study
The five game-changers unveiled at ThoughtSpot 2016
Following the ThoughtSpot 2016 tradeshow, operating as a Good Neighbor Pharmacy is about to become both an easier and more profitable undertaking given the number of key enhancements and opportunities introduced at the show.
Altogether, there were four enhancements introduced at ThoughtSpot 2016 that are expected to have a measurable impact on pharmacy operations, and one tool launched to help independent operators bridge the gap between community pharmacy and their legislators on issues of health access and services.
The enhancement that drew the most fanfare was the launch of ABC Order, which not only streamlines the ordering process and facilitates better inventory management, but also does so in a way that is instinctive to the operator.
And that’s because as many as 200 Good Neighbor Pharmacy operators had direct input into the development of ABC Order from its early design stages to ensure the final product was intuitive to the actual user. “We knew going into this that everything we did had to be based on customer feedback,” Kathie Manning, group VP customer solutions and support at AmerisourceBergen, shared with Drug Store News on the show floor.
Development of this year’s ABC Order platform started at ThoughtSpot 2015, where AmerisourceBergen first started asking for feedback from customers on ABC Passport, the current ordering platform. “That has been the genesis for the entire platform,” she said. “Everything we’ve done has been based on customer feedback.”
For example, two new features based on customer input were notes and a calendar, which can help operators with tighter inventory control. “Notes was something we added based on what we saw in the [test] pharmacies,” Manning said. “We saw pharmacists tagging notes to bottles,” she said, to remind them to check on the shelf below for additional inventory, for example.
ABC Order supports a search that is powerful and uncluttered, with a portal that mimics the experience of a consumer interface like Amazon.com. The new ordering platform also features tools to help users control and optimize inventory by providing real-time delivery tracking and status updates.
The new platform will be made available to customers in 2017.
To bolster front-end performance, Good Neighbor Pharmacy partnered with the National Community Pharmacists Association on a special all-day, front-end profit building seminar hosted by Gabe Trahan, a well-known independent specialist who helps independent operators identify factors that may detract from front-end success. Topics covered during the session included easy fixes to boost curb appeal, floor plans and cross-merchandising, inventory management and marketing ideas.
“Part of the importance of the front end is that it provides a tremendous opportunity to provide your patients with the additional items they might need to manage their health more successfully,” noted Brian Nightengale, president of Good Neighbor Pharmacy.
This session kicked off a new five-year partnership to provide similar learning opportunities in convenient settings for pharmacists. “In a world of shrinking profit margins and fierce competition from the big boxes, it is more critical than ever for community pharmacies to diversify their business to grow and thrive, and the pharmacy front-end provides an excellent starting point,” stated Bradley Arthur, NCPA president. “Thanks to the generous support of Good Neighbor Pharmacy, NCPA can continue to help store owners capitalize on existing and new revenue opportunities in their pharmacy front-ends and become more successful retailers through these one-day seminars. There's no better way to rethink pharmacy than by starting with easy-to-implement changes to the front end.”
In addition, Good Neighbor Pharmacy is offering its members comprehensive services to optimize front-end sales, including access to business coaching, manufacturer promotions, point of sale data and reporting tools, as well as Retail Remedy, a monthly publication with news, tips and product specials focused on retail strategies.
Another significant tool introduced at the show was OurIndependentVoice.com. The newly launched website provides pharmacists a centralized place to access tools and resources to join advocacy movements that impact care in the community setting, research policies impacting independent pharmacy, access letter templates and write to legislators, and connect with other pharmacists and pharmacy organizations.
“Our active engagement with legislators and regulators generates proper understanding of the value we all contribute to health care,” Steve Collis, Chairman, President and CEO AmerisourceBergen, told attendees. “Without these conversations and the awareness that comes from them, we could lose the battle for a reasonable and fair share of the healthcare dollar. Our promising future could be compromised.”
“The conventions these past two weeks prove that America is a robust democracy — whatever your personal political views may be,” Collis added. “Our citizens are passionate about government and its impact on all of us, and there are many ways for individuals and businesses of all sizes to be active.”
In yet another example of how AmerisourceBergen is molding its offerings so that it better serves the independent business operator, the company has redesigned the generics buying experience to not only deliver competitive upfront prices, but to serve pharmacists differently based on the way that they want to buy.
“Generics are incredibly important in the world of pharmacy and pricing generics is essential,” Peyton Howell, president global sourcing and manufacturer relations for AmerisourceBergen, shared with Drug Store News. “The biggest solution that we bring to community pharmacy is our PRxO Generics, our proprietary generics formulary,” she said. “The second thing that we’re doing is we’ve aligned our team in Bern, Switzerland, the same city as Walgreens Boots Alliance, for global generic manufacturing relationships. And that’s been fantastic; … we’re aligned with the scale that Walgreens Boots Alliance brings so that we can have the benefit of that scale brought to our Good Neighbor Pharmacy customers through our PRxO Generics formulary.”
SPECIALTY AT RETAIL
The rapid growth of specialty products provides a natural intersection for community pharmacy to provide personalized patient care in complex therapies. These specialty products often have a high burden of administrative tasks that can be challenging for an independent pharmacy to fit into their workflow economically.
“We’ve had very concerning access issues around specialty products,” acknowledged Howell. “There are many specialty products that are not available in the community pharmacy setting at all. … We’ve been able to meet manufacturers, representing Good Neighbor Pharmacy-type customers, and convince them to make sure they have open access to community pharmacy,” she said. “The exciting win we’ve seen this year is in the new classes of products that have come out, such as the PCSK9 cholesterol products. We’ve seen that when a product is available in a community pharmacy setting, more patients have access to it.” When that same class of product wasn’t available at community pharmacy, the treatment didn’t do as well.
For community pharmacies looking to enter the specialty space, AmerisourceBergen is developing a specialty at retail program that will allow member pharmacies to better serve patient needs while at the same time diversifying their revenue streams. Through this program, independent pharmacies will be able to focus more on patient care instead of spending time and resources navigating administrative tasks.