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Five key stops at McKesson ideaShare
SAN DIEGO — Kevin Kettler, SVP marketing, U.S. Pharmaceutical at McKesson, took Drug Store News on a guided tour of the McKesson ideaShare show floor following the Opening General Session yesterday. The five stations included on the tour are designed to increase access to patients, help bring those patients into the store and maximize these patients by offering new services to bring in new revenue.
First stop on the tour was the Health Mart model store, where Chuck Wilson, VP Health Mart pharmacy operations, showcased the latest in design, decor and merchandising. Slightly smaller at 2,700 sq. ft., the store accommodates 3,200 SKUs across the front-end and features a dedicated compounding room with an exterior window so patients can see the kind of clinical services available at a Health Mart pharmacy. Also new to the store is a lightweight fixture near the pharmacy area that operators can use to promote merchandise.
Next on the tour was Health Mart’s Med Sync offerings, which include several new tools to help pharmacy operators interested in incorporating a Med Sync business into their practice. Both John Gregg, director, Health Mart clinical operations , and Crystal Lennartz, director, Health Mart clinical development, described a new reference guide that provides potential Med Sync operators a five-step process to incorporating the offering into their pharmacy, including what needs to be done in the first 30, 60 and 90 days.
Medication synchronization can be an important acquisition tool for pharmacists, Gregg said. “Studies have shown that the average patient on chronic medications fills about 7.5 out of their 12 refills in a year. When we put them on Med Sync, they fill 11 out of 12,” he said. “When we talk about acquisition, really this is about how we offer physicians and patients a way to improve their health. Driving adherence, solving for gaps and creating that pharmacist/patient appointment, is something we can leverage with physicians, with ACOs and hospital groups to improve their overall population growth.”
The third stop on the tour featured Health Mart’s marketing initiatives designed to bring new patients into the stores. Michelle Gilliam, director, Health Mart Marketing, reviewed new and innovative ways Health Mart is helping stores stay competitive with national advertising and local marketing tools that help stores promote themselves … their way. For example, Health Mart now offers a Facebook solution for its stores, which includes the creation of a Facebook page, automatic posted updates and training for store employees to respond to community posts made on that page.
Also new this year to McKesson ideaShare is an on-site TV studio, Gilliam said. “We’re filming pharmacists live at the show for inclusion in one of five different TV commercials they can customize for their local advertising program. “We’re offering matching funds, which they can apply to up to 50% of their media purchase.”
Morgan Gruye, manager, retail specialty solutions at McKesson, helped explain the fourth stop on the tour: Health Mart’s Retail Specialty Solutions. To help independent pharmacies compete in the specialty market, Health Mart is partnering with Diplomat, a nationally recognized specialty pharmacy. Health Mart Specialty Solutions enables independent pharmacies to provide patients with comprehensive specialty services, streamline specialty access and reimbursement services, and build relationships with prescribers. In other words, those open-sourced specialty medications can be adjudicated by Health Mart pharmacists now that Diplomat Pharmacy handles the back-end processing of those medications.
The final stop on the tour was the McKesson Generics offering. Allegra Riley, McKesson VP generics program management, explained that McKesson’s OneStop Generics program delivers the power of sophisticated pricing tools and deep sourcing expertise with outstanding business solutions, which provides significant advantage to pharmacy customers for selection, pricing and availability. Designed with the needs of the customer in mind, the program offers numerous opportunities to maximize consistency and profitability.
McKesson also offers price assurance protection on generic medicines for 30 days, Riley added. “That has been something that has been truly a differentiator between what OneStop and McKesson does for our customers.”
Q&A: Mark Walchirk on positioning independents for success
As McKesson ideaShare 2015 was just getting underway, DSN editor-in-chief Rob Eder caught up with McKesson president of U.S. Pharmaceutical Mark Walchirk about the state of the pharmacy business, how smart independent pharmacy owners are finding new ways to compete and what McKesson is doing to help independent pharmacies become more broadly integrated into the patient care team, drive improved outcomes and improve profitability.
DSN: Talk about the challenges and the opportunities facing pharmacy today.
Mark Walchirk: I think there are some really positive things going on in the environment, and there are some challenging things as well. In terms of some of the positives, certainly the market in the United States remains strong; I think the demographics create an opportunity for continued growth in pharmaceuticals. There’s still a tremendous opportunity with generic drug launches over the next few years. The Affordable Care Act has brought more people into the healthcare system.
So there are a lot of positives for retail pharmacy, but at the same time, there are pressures as well. I think primarily, it’s an intensely competitive environment that retail pharmacy faces: obviously, there’s still a lot of pressure on reimbursement. If you asked 1,000 independent pharmacists what their biggest challenge was, probably the number one thing most of them would say is something associated with reimbursement. So, they have had to learn how to continue to provide high quality care and clinical services, in an environment where they are getting squeezed from a reimbursement standpoint. It’s forced independent pharmacy owners to be more creative about their revenue streams, and really think about not just filling prescriptions, but really finding new ways to take care of patients and work within their communities. They have had to learn to compete in different ways than they have in the past.
DSN: Consolidation continues to be a factor in the pharmacy industry. How is consolidation impacting independent pharmacies and what do independent owners need to do to thrive in this new era?
Walchirk: It’s interesting because I think that consolidation can have both a positive and a negative impact on independent pharmacy. You may not hear a lot about it. But we have a lot of store owners who maybe started with one or two stores, and they continued to grow in their communities, then all of a sudden they have eight or 10 stores in a geographic area where they actually have some concentration and some brand recognition. In fact, that’s been one of their keys to success.
I would say that independent pharmacy has been very resilient. About 10 years ago, there were about 20,000 independent pharmacies, and everybody thought the demise was going to happen. And 10 years later there are still about 20,000 independent pharmacies. So, it’s pretty amazing really, the resiliency of independent pharmacy owners. They have had to learn how to compete in a different way. They have had to learn to find ways to build scale in their own environments. You’ve seen a lot of young pharmacists open up their own stores. And I think there’s almost a rebirth of independent pharmacy that is taking place and will continue to take place.
DSN: How is McKesson helping retail pharmacies expand their role and become an even more integral and connected member of the patient care team?
Walchirk: I think that’s one of the unique reasons why independent pharmacy owners are successful because they really do act as part of the overall healthcare team within their communities. This afternoon in the Opening General Session we highlighted a number of pharmacies from around the country and we recognized our Pharmacy of the Year award winner from the Marble City Pharmacy in Sylacauga, Ala. You could just sense that they were really a part of the community, and they weren’t there just to fill prescriptions. They provide care and assistance in a variety of fashions, whether it is medication synchronization programs, consulting services with patients, diabetes or cholesterol testing, or developing an infusion center.I think independent pharmacy owners have had to find new ways to serve their communities, and a focus on patient care has been a critical part of their success. Typically independent pharmacy is known for that special emphasis on care, and I think in the environment that we are moving toward, where quality of care is linked to reimbursements, independent pharmacy is positioned very well to thrive in that environment. Independent pharmacy can be a great driver of adherence and persistence programs.
DSN: What is the No. 1 thing McKesson ideaShare attendees should do when they return to their pharmacies next week?
Walchirk: I would hope that every independent pharmacy owner takes home at least one new idea, one new program or one new initiative from their time here. McKesson ideaShare can be somewhat overwhelming — there are probably 1,000 big ideas out there — but if every one of the pharmacy owners here took one new thing back to their stores and implemented it, I think the show would be a great success.