Your Independent Pharmacy Can Win in an Unfair Game

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Data-Analysis for Independent Pharmacy Owners

Are you the type of independent pharmacy owner who is content to drift along with the dated model of taking whatever business happens to walk through the door? Don’t settle for “business as usual” and “my pharmacy is doing just fine.” The unfair game PBM’s are playing won’t change until you start to look at your profitability differently. Discover where big money can be made in independent pharmacy–it’s right under your nose, and you don’t even know it.

 

 

 


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Pharmacy Development Services (PDS), believes that the success of each independent pharmacy is a win for everyone and we are ready to show you the level of commitment we have to your success.

 

How to Maximize Your Pharmacy Team’s Performance and Boost your Top & Bottom Line

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 Written by Steve Graham, The Oval Group, a PDS Recommended Vendor

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Every Saturday morning for the past year, I have been reviewing the Wall Street Journal’s summary of the week’s best-belling books, as reported by Nielsen BookScan.

Many bestsellers have come and gone over that time period, but what continues to endure, is the type of books found on the Hardcover Business list. They are not about hidden business secrets or a recently discovered financial formula that will guarantee millions of dollars overnight. Most of these books that endure on the list are largely about the people – the life blood of all businesses

They are about understanding yourself, others or the characteristics of successful people.

They are also about improving skills for:

  • Leadership
  • Forming effective teams
  • Building a winning culture
  • Developing people

I have often asked myself why this is the case? Why are all of these books about the people within a business context?

According to Deliotte’s 2015 Global Human Capital Trends report, companies are struggling to attract, retain and develop leaders at all levels within their companies, yet they are largely unprepared to address these issues. In fact, according to the report, culture and engagement was rated the most important issue overall across a multitude of industries.

Furthermore, Gallup consistently reports on the dismal levels of employee engagement not only within the U.S. but reports even worse numbers worldwide. In fact, Gallup estimates that lost productivity due to actively disengaged employees cost U.S. businesses $450-$550 billion each year.

So why is it that so many companies are willing to invest in new equipment, technology, assets and systems that help to improve their business performance, yet they are often reluctant or ill-prepared to invest in tools and systems that focus their people? These issues are typically viewed as “squishy” and therefore hard to define or repair. How do you measure success?

Well, it may feel squishy but there are very real and concrete success measures related to hiring, developing and retaining a strong team. Gallup among many others has recently reported that businesses who focus on and invest in talent selection and improving employee engagement show consistently improved top and bottom line financial performance.

The TTI Success Insights®, 2016 Trends Article, explains the use of talent assessments for selection dramatically improves a business’s good hire ratios. U.S. business spending in this category has consistently been on the rise. The Wall Street Journal reported that the percentage of large US companies that are using online assessment tools for talent selection has risen from 26% on 2001 to 57% in 2013. They project this will continue to increase to 75% by 2020. Talent selection is not just for big business. This “Big Data” approach adds value at affordable rates even for small and medium sized businesses.

These self-help business books only stay on the best seller list because people continue to buy them. It follows that people must be buying them to want to solve these problems within themselves. Business leaders and employees alike are looking for ways to improve their relationships with each other in order to drive more successful business outcomes. The next step is to make the right investments to improve company odds for realizing that success.

Are you ready to invest in your talent?

The Oval Group has been providing talent insight to individuals and business leaders for over 10 years. The Oval Group is an authorized supplier of TTI Success Insights® talent assessment, a world class developer of talent selection tools that have been proven to dramatically reduce bad hires and enable improved employee engagement.

Want more info on this topic? Watch the webinar with The Oval Group we recently hosted. You will learn…  

  • The true financial impact bad hires and disengaged employees can have on your Pharmacy
  • How to increase employee collaboration, engagement, and productivity
  • 5 key steps to diagnose and repair employee related issues
  • How some PDS Pharmacy member teams have benefited from one of the tools discussed
  • How using science can solve employee problems and grow your business

 

Independent Pharmacies Have Epi-Pen Alternatives

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In light of recent price increases of the life-saving device, Epi-pen, there are discussions happenings throughout the media and across industry message boards about lower cost or generic alternatives available to consumers. This situation puts independent pharmacies, as healthcare destinations, in a unique position to offer patients valuable information on Epi-Pen alternatives.

Patients that are lucky enough to have health insurance that covers the cost will likely never see the significant price increase, but those without coverage may have trouble affording $600-$650 prices of the Epi-pen. If a cash paying patient comes in and asks about alternatives or the reimbursement information for Epi-pen you have a few different options you can share.

  • Anaphylaxis Kit – This is a much cheaper alternative to auto-injectors, but the patient should receive a thorough consultation on how to properly use the kit, as this is an injection and vial solution. This will cost the patient about $35-$45 dollars.
    • Put the following items in a 5x1x3 box:  
      • 1 ml Adrenaline 1mg/ml
      • 1 ml BD syringe
      • 25g 1 inch needle
      • Sterile alcohol swab
      • Directions: For Anaphylaxis 0.3 to 0.5 mg (0.3 to 0.5 ml) undiluted. Administer the injection intramuscularly (IM) or subcutaneously and repeat every 5 to 10 minutes as necessary.
  • Epi-pen Savings Card – Some patients may be eligible for the savings program offered by Mylan, but there are restrictions, and the patient will have to fill out a form to determine assistance eligibility.
  • Adrena-click – This is a slightly lower-cost alternative, though not by much. The drug comes in 0.15 mg and 0.3 mg doses, similar to Epi-pen, but the switch has to be prescribed by the doctor and operating this brand is different from the Epi-pen so ensure your patient understands how the device works before they are in an emergency situation. Additionally, this is only recognized in a few states, for the time being, so you may not have this option for patients.  

Patients may feel that there are no options available to them, but this is where independent pharmacies have the opportunity to step up and bring value to the community. By making your pharmacy a healthcare destination, building a sense of reliability, and providing excellent customer service — you are creating an ambassador for your store. If someone was able to save you hundreds of dollars on a life-saving drug needed for yourself or your child and invested the time to show you how to use it, wouldn’t you continue to come back for other health care needs?


PDSAdvantage is a web-based app that allows pharmacy owners and employees to engage in one place. Our exclusive message board connects you with a network of pharmacy professionals from across the nation discussing everything from relevant industry topics and training to current events and ideas to help your store succeed. Click below to get your pharmacy team signed up for PDSAdvantage.

 

Ready to Increase Pharmacy Profitability? Start With These 3 Things

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Improve Pharmacy Profitability

The average independent pharmacy operates on very thin profit margins, forcing owners to reevaluate ways to keep costs low and profits high on a regular basis. Not knowing where to look first can be frustrating and overwhelming. Here are the three methods of improving your pharmacy profitability you should regularly assess in your business.

How to Buy Smarter with Pharmacy Wholesalers

Typically, a single wholesaler will not meet all of your purchasing needs nor provide the best pricing for all prescription purchases. A good way to avoid relying on one wholesaler and putting your already thin profit margins at risk, is to have several secondary suppliers as a point of comparison. Taking advantage of the Pharmacy Development Services (PDS) industry-exclusive message board in PDS Advantage will enable you to get peer recommendations, insights and customer service feedback, before making commitments.

Know Your ‘Top 20’ Prescribers

Not all prescribers are created equal so ramping up your profits should start with identifying your most profitable prescribers. A deep dive into your data will show you which prescribers are moving the profit needle, and which ones keep you busy behind the proverbial bench. Prescribers may land on your list for a number of reasons, but volume should not be one of them. Once you have identified key providers, start implementing ways to stay top of mind by providing value-added services and exceptional customer service to keep the referrals coming in your door.

Maximize Reimbursements

An often overlooked way to increase your pharmacy’s profitability is to ensure you are recouping the maximum on insurance reimbursement claims. There are three strategies every pharmacy should implement and enforce to remain confident that you are not leaving any profits on the table.

  • Regularly update U&C price points — This information is critical to setting an accurate cash price for prescriptions and receiving the maximum on insurance reimbursements. It should be standard operating procedure to examine your switch data to identify claims that paid at U&C.
  • Ensure accuracy with DAW claim codes — Incorrect coding can result in the accrual of significant losses. Train your team to be attentive when submitting DAW codes, because not doing so will negatively affect the profitability and efficiency of your pharmacy; the reimbursements will be inaccurate; the pharmacy will lose time over claim resubmissions and misinformation on claims may trigger the most dreaded consequence — a pharmacy audit.
  • Consistently update AWP information — Pricing and reimbursements models are still largely based on AWP, and ‘bad data’ leads to inaccuracies that affect profits. Pharmacy owners should make sure their software is updated daily with the latest pricing information. Many third parties lag in their updating of AWP, which will mean a pharmacy will have to invest time to reverse and resubmit claims to capture lost profit.

Independent pharmacy owners often believe they cannot impact their pharmacy profitability. However, the strategies above can result in thousands of dollars in profits each month. Yet, most pharmacies haven’t changed the management of prescriptions and processes in years. If you are waiting for prescriptions to come in the door, dealing with inventory and purchasing headaches and finding little time to implement new initiatives or improve your current processes..you are doing it wrong!


Running a reactive pharmacy is ineffective and killing your bottom line…but there is a better way! SyncRx Plus is a program that incorporates the traditional synchronization adherence model and with an added MTM component. The implementation of this program will improve your pharmacy’s profitability through data mining, improved quality measures, workflow efficiency and by leveraging your third-party contracts. 

 

Pharmacy Financial Management: A Cheat Sheet

Poor financial management in pharmacy leads to insufficient operating funds. This is one of the main reasons why 50 percent of small businesses fail within the first year. It is important for pharmacy owners to understand their financial data to avoid becoming failure statistics. If you are an independent pharmacy owner, remember these valuable tips for increasing your company’s cash flow and the probability of success.

 

Pharmacy Financial Management

Continue reading “Pharmacy Financial Management: A Cheat Sheet”

Social Media Can Help Your Independent Pharmacy

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As social media becomes increasingly effective as a marketing tool, it is little wonder that small businesses as independent pharmacies are starting to take advantage of this convenient and cost-effective medium. Without a huge brand name or giant marketing budget, independent pharmacies need to get creative in engaging with customers and social media can be a great way to keep the relationship going beyond your store’s four walls.

However, many independent pharmacy owners and managers, find the thought of tackling social media confusing and overwhelming. Pharmaceutical marketing doesn’t have to be intimidating and in fact, here are a few easy ways to start using social media for business:

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  1. Create a dedicated Facebook page for your pharmacy

By creating a simple Facebook page online, you will be able to post helpful information for your store, such as business hours, dates you will be closed, special events, disease-specific information, tips and more. Simply think of this as a modern day interactive phonebook, where people can look you up and stay in touch. You can post messages, answer questions and interact with customers and patients to help them find what they are looking for. Facebook provides easy instructions and best practices for getting started on their site.

  1. Consider setting up a Twitter account for your pharmacy

Pick an easy to identify Twitter handle (account username) for example @A1Pharmacy, which can be really effective for driving awareness to your store.  Twitter is an easy and simple way to communicate with customers and prospects in real time. It can be a great tool to spread “short and sweet” messages about sales, vaccination clinics, CDC updates, awareness campaigns, educational seminars and so much more. Twitter can also be utilized for sharing information or suggestions either “live” or prescheduled at a later time that you designate. For example, you might tweet (a “Tweet” is a Twitter message in 140 characters or less) “Stop by our store today to get your flu shot before the season kicks into high gear.”

Regardless of what social channel you use, remember to create posts that lead to conversations rather than simply provide information. Negative comments should also be addressed on social media quickly and honestly. Complaints are a part of any business, but managing the issue and repairing your pharmacy’s brand with quick explanations or apologies will go a long way in increasing customer loyalty.

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  1. Providing critical information to customers on your website

Although Facebook and Twitter can be easy ways to engage in online conversations, it is equally important to provide helpful information to customers via your website and follow-up with social media posts. This can include policy changes, medication recalls, emergency information after a natural disaster, job openings, disease education, government regulations, vaccine reminders and other important details about your pharmacy that customers should know and be able to learn about quickly. All information should be presented in a professional and knowledgeable manner, representing your pharmacy’s brand. Simply think of this method as another tool to engage and delight customers and reach those people who may not be responding to traditional direct mail or advertisements.

Both your website and social channels should be activated for promoting sales, seasonal events, invitations to customer appreciation days and other local community events.

Finding new methods to drive awareness to your store may seem challenging, but using a combination of traditional and new media marketing methods, will help your independent pharmacy thrive and grow.



 

3 Simple Ways to Increase Your Independent Pharmacy Sales

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With so much competition among pharmacies, it can be difficult for an independent pharmacy to gain traction in their local community. After all, larger chains tend to occupy every single corner in America, making it all the more important for community pharmacies to stand out.

Fortunately, there are some simple ways to increase your pharmacy profit. With the right pharmacy team and pharmacy programs, your store can be a hub of consumer activity.


It seems pretty straightforward, but make sure your team is doing the obvious and non-obvious things to best position your store effectively. Here are three simple steps you can take to better serve your customers and make your independent pharmacy more profitable.

 

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Product Placement

Most of the time customers enter your store with a specific purpose in mind. It might be to fill a script, to purchase cosmetics or a greeting card. Key product placement is essential to a positive consumer experience and if your customers have trouble finding what they want, they are likely to become frustrated and stop shopping with you.

As a pharmacy owner, it is important to always analyze the layout of your store. Too often, owners fail to see things from the customer perspective so be sure and strategically place products in logical, convenient locations, have appropriate signage and prioritize popular products whenever possible. Also, think seasonally. For example, in the winter cold medicines should be easy to find. In the spring and summer, prime shelf space should feature sunscreen and allergy medication.

Additionally, items should be logically grouped so if someone is going to buy bandages, he or she may also want an antiseptic at the same time. When these products are placed close to each other, they will be easier to find and increases the likelihood of the consumer buying both products instead of only one.

Efficient Stocking

It is not just about how the shelves are organized but what is on the shelves in the first place. Modern consumers are used to options. When they arrive in a store, they expect to compare and contrast different brands to find the best product at the best price.

To this end, similar products should be in the same aisle. If a customer wants to find pain medication, all the options should be readily available on the same shelf. This way, it is easy to compare brands, gauge prices, check out dosages, ingredients and more. In order for a community pharmacy to stay relevant, having the best selections in town is of vital importance.

By having enough brands on hand, every customer will find what he or she is looking for before checking out. This is all a part of providing a positive experience for customers, ensuring that they leave satisfied with their purchase. Just remember the context in which most people visit a pharmacy. Many customers visit the pharmacy when they or their loved ones are sick. This already causes enough stress. It is the job of the pharmacy staff to make them feel comfortable and help them as much as possible.

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Targeted Upselling

Although stocking your pharmacy effectively can make a huge impact on the bottom line, pharmacy employees also play a big role in increasing profitability through upselling. One of the easiest ways to increase profits is by encouraging your team to engage with patients and customers and be comfortable making recommendations or upselling.

Upselling is a common business strategy, in which employees leverage a conversation with consumers to get them to buy more. While it is important to never be too pushy in a selling context, pharmacy employees have a unique opportunity to provide targeted helpful product advice.

In a restaurant upselling means offering appetizers, alcoholic beverages and dessert to increase the cost of a meal. In a pharmacy it can be as simple as suggesting related products. When someone comes in to buy cold medicine, a friendly reminder that there is a good price on tissues or humidifiers might be effective. If a customer is picking up a box of diapers, pointing out the great deals on diaper cream or baby wipes might be a logical extension.


Employees should be well-trained to look for these opportunities, offering smart suggestions that appeal to a consumer’s specific needs. This will not only improve profits, but it can be a critical part of excellent customer service. A good upsell should never feel like a sales pitch. Instead, it should feel like one-on-one attention from a dedicated employee.

If you are interested in increasing profits at your independent pharmacy let’s talk. Schedule a free discovery call with an experienced Business Growth Advisor to get advice about leadership team development, increasing profitability and much more.

 

5 Ways to Build a High Performing Pharmacy Team

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One of the biggest advantages of managing employees at an independent pharmacy is the flexibility to design a personalized pharmacy team. In fact, a well-managed, high-performing team will produce better business results.

But how does one build a team of high performers?

Effective communication is an essential part of effective team management. Better communication facilitates more streamlined operations, and helps eliminate time-wasting activities because everyone understands what is expected of them.

Pharmacy owners must shift the focus of their employees towards achieving business goals, personal accountability and top-notch customer service. Your customers and employees will all be happier thanks to this approach.

Here are some important tips for turning individual pharmacy workers into an impressive high-performance team:

 

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1. Effective Time Management

Start by analyzing the duties of each team member. For a thorough and accurate analysis, it is best to do this without following the workers around like a shadow. Simply observe what they do throughout the day, and ask them about their duties. Ask these questions about different tasks to determine if they are essential:

  • What would happen if this task were removed?
  • Are there more benefits or disadvantages for changing this process?
  • Is there any way to simplify this task or process?
  • Are there too many people working on the same tasks?
  • Are technologies available to make this process simpler?

Never make a change that compromises quality, service or accuracy in filling medications. When time-wasting tasks are cut and duties are clearly outlined for each team member, assignments will be finished faster. The day-to-day nature of the pharmacy business can be unpredictable, but implementing a time-management plan will make fluctuating volume demands easier to navigate.

 

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2. Set Clear Business And Performance Goals

Every independent pharmacy owner should have specific goals. Setting daily goals for managing time, completing tasks or hitting a specific sales target can be a great way to help your team stay focused. Communicate these goals with your team members using a central shared bulletin board or an electronic system for better clarity. Hold regular meetings to evaluate progress.

3. Motivate With Incentives

When most independent pharmacy owners think of incentives, they think of cash bonuses. These are not always necessary. Weekly rewards such as a free bottled beverage and a protein bar could also do the trick to reward behaviors inexpensively. Consider offering gift cards, an extra vacation day or a credit voucher for in-house purchases to the best-performing worker on your team for each quarter. Simple recognition tactics such as paper awards, thank-you notes and a program for honoring the top employee of the month, can help boost morale and encourage quality work.

4. Rethink Training Strategies

Are staff members effectively trained when they are hired? Examine pharmacy training materials and methods. If there are processes that seem ineffective, remove or replace them. Ask your seasoned team members to suggest improvements for new employee, team training and development plans. One of the most important elements to incorporate throughout training and beyond is a collaborative culture.

 

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5. Create A Team Culture

pharmacy success stories have a positive culture of teamwork, which translates to increased efficiency and improved ROI. Though building a strong team is not a one-time activity or a box you can check off. The process itself takes time and work, and maintaining it requires a team-oriented workplace culture.

If a pharmacy has several employees and a few departments, it’s a good idea to designate leaders for each. Then encourage team leaders to strengthen their sub-teams and support one another. It can be helpful to have regular “all team” meetings where workers praise one another for their efforts.

High-performing pharmacy teams are worth their weight in gold. Pharmacy owners have the power to create a positive and collaborative store environment that makes for happy customers and better results.

Would you like to learn more about building and leading a High-Performance Team? Let’s talk!

Schedule a free assessment call with an experienced Business Growth Advisor today.

 

How to Position Your Pharmacy as a Community Healthcare Destination

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Become a Community Healthcare Destination

How can pharmacy owners stand out among the competition and grow market share? By positioning your store as a community healthcare destination.

The healthcare landscape is one of constant change and gaining a competitive advantage can be an ongoing battle for the independent pharmacy owner. There are a multitude of challenges that owners like you deal with every single day just to keep the lights on and leaving little energy to innovate.

So how can pharmacy owners stand out from the competition and enhance market share?

It’s simple. By positioning their pharmacy as the “community healthcare destination”.

But You May Be Wondering How To Position Your Pharmacy As a Community Healthcare Destination

Utilizing tools, such as data-mining which means analyzing information to find patterns of useful information that can be applied to your business. Data-mining enables you to identify key areas of opportunity that you can react to. You may find trends that indicate a need to stock a certain product or a product or service that might need to be eliminated. By reviewing data and learning what is really happening in your store, you can find areas to improve your business, streamline and ultimately increase your bottom line.

Keep in mind that innovation can take on many forms; there may be dated processes in need of overhaul, or a new niche service that you can incorporate to address a specific healthcare concern within your local area. Or perhaps a new more profitable medication that you can use to replace another one.

Here are some simple steps to getting started on the path to establishing your pharmacy as a community healthcare destination in your neighborhood:

 

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  • Strive to understand the unique healthcare needs of your community – Once you begin to understand the healthcare needs of your community, you can identify how to address them by adding, clinics, immunization programs, disease education and much more.

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  • Use data to discover opportunities and refine numerous aspects of your business – Analyzing and understanding your data, can help you determine key areas of focus such as improving customer service, adding new disease-specific products and/or managing your P&L more efficiently.

Pro-tip Don’t just look at profit data, track results! Successful patient outcomes will be instrumental in the long-term marketing of your pharmacy services.

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  • Become a Community Healthcare Ambassador – Once you identify one or more areas of specialization to focus on in your pharmacy, you can start planning the implementation and marketing of these services. Visit doctors offices, hospitals and elder care facilities to build your network and share the unique services you offer to support the needs of these patients.

Pro-tip: Your knowledge is your strongest asset. Focus on quality, not quantity when it comes to patient interactions.

BONUS: Community-centered programs to solidify your position as the local community healthcare authority:

Below are some helpful turn-key programs and initiatives that PDS has developed to help independent pharmacies expand their reach and establish themselves as the leader for treatments and education.  Need help getting started? Contact us for more information!

Understanding the needs of your patients will allow you to identify new services, key products, and distinguish you from your competition. Utilizing this knowledge will be invaluable for the longevity and sustainability of quality programs and exceptional customer care.

No one knows your local community better than you do, so use these tips and free program guides to decide which programs will be the best for your business.

Let’s talk! Schedule a call with an experienced pharmacy business expert to learn more about our independent pharmacy strategies that will have you on the fast track to profitable results.

 

Are All Pharmacy Patients Created Equal?

What is missing from your business strategy for your independent pharmacy? Unless you are regularly leveraging your dispensing data, the answer is — a lot.

Simply increasing prescription volume isn’t the answer. Quantity does not always equal quality. In today’s industry, the most successful and profitable pharmacy owners are using their pharmacy data to make laser-focused business decisions. Understanding where your profits are coming from, such as the profitable prescribers, empowers you, the independent pharmacy owner, to hone a sharp competitive edge you may not have known existed.

There is an incredible amount of data at your fingertips. When applied to make informed business decisions, you can improve how you and your team engage with key customers, build strong prescriber relationships, optimize patient outcomes, and increase pharmacy profitability.

So, where do you start?

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