Pharmacy ownership lures new operators
One of Health Mart’s newest owners is Yang Xiong, who opened Minneapolis’ Northside Community Health Mart Pharmacy in July. A 2011 graduate of the College of Pharmacy at the University of Minnesota, Xiong spent his first years working for two national chains. That experience led him to want to operate his own pharmacy and have a more direct impact on his patients.
Xiong serves a community that is 90% of Hmong descent — an Asian ethnic group from the mountainous regions of China, Vietnam, Laos and Thailand. Xiong speaks a total of four languages, a strong point of difference.
“A lot of Hmong patients are skeptical of Western medications that come in a tablet or capsule version,” he told DSN. “I try to bridge that gap.”
Looking forward, Xiong wants to get into diabetes counseling. “There’s a growing population [among the] Hmong population that have caught up to Western chronic diseases — diabetes, high cholesterol and hypertension.”
Technology and the independent operator
For Tom Davis, co-owner of Kiowa Health Mart Pharmacy, in Eads, Colo., technology has always been critical to the operation. “We put in our first pharmacy system in 1982. At the time, we may have been one of the first systems in Colorado, to be honest,” Davis told DSN.
Davis, a 38-year pharmacy veteran — 25 years with Health Mart — essentially organizes technology into 1-of-3 buckets:
- Technology that makes it easier for the patient — today, there are eight different ways for a prescription to reach his store, versus just two, when he first opened in 1982;
- Technology that improves store operations — Davis uses McKesson’s Reimbursement Advantage program to stay compliant with Medicare and PBM requirements, and recently added PatientLink, which provides patient information on all medications and helps boost adherence; and
- Technology that improves profits — Davis puts a lot of focus on driving front-end profitability. He uses sales reports generated by department, which he can compare against purchase orders in McKesson Connect to better manage front-end profitability per sq. ft. — much like the big chains do.
Physician Outreach builds script counts
There are many ways a pharmacy operation can measure success; the most basic is to fill more prescriptions today than yesterday.
Ryan Merrell, head of marketing for Spence’s Pharmacy, a Health Mart pharmacy in Logan, Utah, is among many independent pharmacies who are using McKesson’s Physician Outreach Program to do just that by benchmarking total prescription share against their local market and helping to identify and build relationships with high prescribers in their areas — in real time.
According to a recent McKesson study, Physician Outreach subscribers have experienced a 1.8% average increase in fills after using it for more than 6 months, with the most active subscribers experiencing up to a 7% increase.
One area in which Spence’s has been able to establish an important niche is in compounding. “With Physician Outreach, I’m able to easily identify the prescribers whose patients will benefit from our compounding services,” said Merrell, a licensed pharmacy technician since the age of 15 years. “As a result, we’ve doubled the number of compounding scripts we [filled] in the past year.”