[Industry Alert] CVS-Aetna Merger is Not a Done Deal 

In a hearing on Monday, US District Court Judge Richard Leon stated that he is considering hitting pause on the $70 billion merger between CVS and Aetna. The deal is currently unopposed, but the public comment period remains open until December 15, 2018.

According to the Department of Justice’s Antitrust Division, final judgments must wait until the public comment period closes.

Judge Leon stated in a hearing on Monday, “I was reviewing your motion, which of course is not opposed, and I kind of got this uneasy feeling that I was being kept in the dark.”

Multiple organizations such as the American Medical Association and the Association of American Physicians and Surgeons, have objected to the merger citing concerns over “substantial reduction” of competition in the PBM services market and increase prices for consumers.

Fast Facts: PBMs & Independent Pharmacy

  • Pharmacy Benefit Managers (PBMs) control nearly 80% of all prescriptions filled in the US.
  • The state of Ohio was charged $225 million over and above the average price for Medicaid prescriptions. Similar investigations are underway in Arkansas and Pennslyvania.
  • Kentucky fined CVS $1.5 million for violations related reimbursement processing, including cases where Caremark gave the state’s Department of Insurance inaccurate information.
  • CVS’ mandatory mail order pharmacy program results in millions of dollars wasted due to damaged, unwanted, or otherwise wasted medications.

What Can You Do?

We are urging all independent pharmacy owners, employees, and patients to take a few minutes to comment and share their input on the invaluable service that independents provide to the communities they serve.

What Do I Say?
Pharmacists United for Truth and Transparency (PUTT), a non-profit organization, has shared a version of the letter they are submitting. Download this letter as a framework to personalize and write your own message.

Mail To:

Peter Mucchetti, Chief 
Healthcare and Consumer Products Section, Antitrust Divison
Department of Justice
450 Fifth Street NW, Suite 4100 
Washington, DC 20530 

The Department of Justice will collect and publish comments in early 2019. We encourage everyone to exercise their first amendment rights, share their thoughts, and oppose the merger.


PDSPDS believes independent pharmacies are the best place for patients to get the care they need, and therefore we believe independents deserve to thrive. This is why PDS is dedicated to equipping pharmacy owners with the skills and strategies they need to be successful and profitable.

How to Use Persuasion to Increase Patient Buy-In

Are you looking to increase your number of patient transactions? How about getting patients to take advantage of your unique products and services? The most straightforward and practical answer is to use the subtle art of sales.

There is often a negative association with the word ‘sales.’ Hearing the word ‘salesperson’ likely conjures up some particular images and ideas for most people. In the best light, they are of a typical salesperson, aggressive, pushy at one end, and ‘con-artist’ or manipulative at the other.

If you’re thinking that you’re ‘selling’ to your patients, frame it another way. The fact is that you’re doing a very important job in the community by helping them solve their health and wellness problems.

Imagine if your best friend tells you he’s struggling with a problem, and you have a solution, wouldn’t you speak up and say something about it?

If you have a product or service that can help others, it is your moral obligation as a healthcare provider to share it with them.

The rest of this post will cover how you can use Dr. Cialdini’s principles of persuasion to communicate new treatment options to your patients and increase sales.

Scarcity: Patients Love Limited-Time Deals (And Things They Have Less Of)

Leverage the emotional impact of FOMO (or the fear of missing out) to increase sales.

To apply this principle to your pharmacy business, offer limited-time deals for different audiences.
Scarce products and offers feel exclusive and valuable to consumers.

One way to showcase a limited time product is by placing it in a smaller end-cap area with signage that conveys urgency and scarcity.

When you’re discussing the product, highlight what they stand to lose by not taking action and speak to the specific issues the patient might be experiencing.

You can also experiment with offering exclusive perks reserved only for top customers. Once people realize that being a repeat customer comes with rewards, they’ll be more ready to act on purchases. In turn, you’ll increase revenue and often, your average transaction value as well.

Assure Your Patients You’re An Expert

Make sure you establish your credibility to your customers.

Why? Although we’ll never admit it, we want others to tell us exactly what to do. Especially by experts that we trust. You can do this by making recommendations, displaying your certifications where your patients can see them, and answering any questions your patients might have.

If you show that you and your team are trained experts, your patients will also be more willing to try new products or services that you recommend.

Offer events and classes that educate your patients, if you continually provide value around healthcare and wellness, your pharmacy will soon be known as a healthcare destination for the community.

People discuss excellent and awful experiences. If you’re providing great customer service, you can bet that you’ll start seeing the referrals come through the door. High patient satisfaction and experiences will ultimately drive more sales.

Consistency Is Key: Start With Small Commitments for Big Sales

When you’re selling something (especially if it’s a high-ticket item that people don’t buy on impulse), try to get your patient to commit to something small first.

As a pharmacy owner, this could be a free trial or samples of new products.

After they agree or “say yes” to you once, they’ll be more willing to “say yes” again to stay consistent with their previous action.

If you use this principle, you can break down many of the barriers your patients have when shopping, and over time, your patients will agree to bigger and more expensive recommendations.

The important thing to remember is to nurture your relationship with them and get several “yeses” first.

Influence at Work: Building a Better Pharmacy 

Remember, using these principles to influence your patients isn’t wrong if you’re applying them ethically. Your mission as a healthcare professional is to help people who come to you with health and wellness challenges.

In fact, if you master ethical persuasion, you’ll be able to improve the lives of patients you wouldn’t have been able to otherwise.


PDS is proud to bring you the 2019 Super-Conference with three days of actionable content that’s never been covered in our industry until NOW. We are bringing in the experts to help you master the critical communication skills that will help you ethically and effectively influence your three critical audiences, prescribers, patients, and your pharmacy team. Join us February 21-23, 2019 in Orlando, Florida for the most important pharmacy conference of the year.

 

Easy Ways Independent Pharmacy Owners Can Get More Referrals From Prescribers

Owning an independent pharmacy is easy, said no one ever. This is why identifying unique strategies to grow your pharmacy and improve your bottom line is vital. So how do pharmacy owners do this? Owners can achieve this in many ways, two of which are by increasing the amount and frequency of pharmacy transactions, in addition to driving new patients to your business. While increasing volume isn’t the only way to grow your pharmacy (so many options!), it is one effective strategy. In this blog, we’ll highlight one of the most effective and cost-efficient ways to drive new patients to your pharmacy, by building and maintaining strong relationships with prescribers and increasing patient referrals.

Read on to learn more about how to increase referral traffic from doctors and other health professionals in your area. Building and nurturing strong relationships with local physicians is critical to creating a steady flow of referrals and new patients.

Identify Prescription Sources

Pharmacy owners can easily identify which prescribers make up the bulk of their business. Leveraging this data allows owners to enhance the partnerships with prescribers that regularly send you patients. Pharmacy owners can also reach out to those who may benefit from the specific services offered by your pharmacy, but for some reason or another, aren’t sending referrals.

The role of the community pharmacist is expanding to include enhanced services such as annual wellness reviews, medication therapy management, pharmacogenomics, and other clinical services. The expansion allows for greater collaboration between prescribers and pharmacists. Treating the roles of pharmacist and prescriber as complementary is key to developing good working relationships and achieving the best patient outcomes.

3 Reasons Why Your Pharmacy Should Offer Annual Wellness Review Services

  • Nurture Relationships with Physician Partners – Working in partnership with a physician for AWV is a great step to streamlining communication between the two offices. This will benefit your pharmacy when it comes to requesting medication switches as well as offering ancillary programs such as diabetic education and flu clinics.
  • Greater Involvement in Patient Care – This is an opportunity to keep patient files up-t0-date and ensures you are offering the best standard of care. The face-time with patients allows for your team to ensure patients are following protocol and share information on new programs that would benefit patient outcomes.
  • Grow or Start Your Medication Synchronization Program – Create a goal to educate and register your patients about the benefits of synchronization.

Give New Health Professionals in Your Area a Warm Welcome

Did a new pediatrician or nurse practitioner recently join your local health community? Introduce yourself as the local go-to pharmacy by sending them a personalized note or setting up a one-on-one lunch. Take the opportunity to see what they need and how you can help them meet the goals for their practice and their patients.

Lend your experience as a medical expert to help prescribers maintain medication adherence, and enhance their healthcare plan for the patient. Building trust with local health professionals and developing a relationship is beneficial for both parties as well as the patients you serve.

Build Relationships with the Entire Staff

The key to getting the doctor’s staff to recommend your pharmacy is by staying top of their mind. You can do this by engaging the doctor’s entire team. That includes the medical assistants, nurses, receptionists — everyone!

  • Send a handwritten note, flowers, or tasty goodies on the appropriate health care appreciation day to show your gratitude. Assisted Living Week begins September 12th and Physician Assistants Week begins October 6. When you give people gifts, they’ll feel obliged to provide you with something in return. Dr. Cialdini calls this the “rule of reciprocity.” In this case, you’re positioning your pharmacy to be top of mind when they want to refer a customer.
  • Stop by the clinic on a regular basis to chat with the staff. The key is to be likable and bring value to the conversation. Don’t be afraid to offer genuine compliments or share something personal about yourself. Look for similarities and point them out to build connections. Bringing pharmacy news, coupons, or samples of new products and services can go a long way.
  • Invite the local health professional community to your pharmacy for a quarterly, after-hours networking event. The goal is for them to meet your staff and learn about the services you provide. Make the event fun by wrapping the refreshments around a holiday or theme (February – chocolate; May – margaritas, etc.). You’ll have the health community looking forward to your events and referring patients to your pharmacy in no time!

Position Your Business as an Authority on Health and Wellness 

One advantage independent pharmacies have over national chains is superior customer experience. Simply put, people talk about great experiences and bad experiences. If the patient is referred to your pharmacy and walks away having a great experience, they are going to share that with the prescriber, who will, in turn, refer more patients.

Take advantage of this by educating and informing your patients about services, programs, and philosophies on which you’ve built your independent pharmacy. When you give your customers (and prescribers) valuable information for free, your pharmacy is reinforcing its position as an authority in health and wellness.

You can talk about:

  • Solutions to counteract drug-induced nutrient depletion issues.
  • Where to get free calcium, kids vitamins (Pediatricians), prenatal vitamins (OB-GYN) and diabetic medications.
  • Type II Diabetes and how to prevent it. You can even teach your customers how to cook healthy meals at home.
  • Products that prevent sports injuries (Chiropractor).
  • And much more…

When you help solve patient’s problems, they’ll be more likely to accept your recommendations. If you start taking these steps today, you’ll notice doctors are more willing to refer customers to you. To maximize your pharmacy’s growth through referrals, you need to learn how to effectively and ethically persuade others.


 

PDS is proud to bring you the 2019 Super-Conference with three days of actionable content that’s never been covered in our industry until NOW. We are bringing in the experts to help you master the critical communication skills that will help you ethically and effectively influence your three critical audiences, prescribers, patients, and your pharmacy team. Join us February 21-23, 2019 in Orlando, Florida for the most important pharmacy conference of the year.

 

 

 

[SMOKING GUN] You’re Right, PBMs are Duping Pharmacy Owners

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What we’re about to show you will likely make your blood boil. It did ours. These are pictures you must see to affirm your sneaking suspicion that yes, you are in fact getting duped by PBMs, such as CVS Caremark.

The Proof

The images below were provided by a fellow pharmacy owner and were obtained during the process of filing a MAC appeal with the Medicaid HMO, Molina. Like many owners who bill to CVS Caremark, she noticed a consistent pattern of being underpaid on reimbursements. In response to the complaint, she received the following files which show the charges to Molina for the prescription, a stark contrast to what her pharmacy received.

Prescription Amount Submitted by Pharmacy Molina Paid Caremark Pharmacy Reimbursement PBM Spread
Guanfacine HCL ER 2 MG tablets ER 24H $320.00 $121.55 $7.60 $113.95
Neomycin-Polymixin-Hydrocor 3.5-10K-1 solution $106.00 $50.32 $5.40 $44.92

 

Images one and two show what Molina paid CVS Caremark for two prescriptions while images three and four show what the pharmacy was paid. This highlights the reality that pharmacies are regularly underpaid for prescriptions while the insurance plans are charged far more, and the PBM gets to keep a considerable spread of profits in their pocket.

We’ve also attached the documents for download here.

What This Means

There are approximately 22,000 independent pharmacies in the United States. If we looked at the Guanfacine prescription alone, the yearly payout to PBMs is $29,832,000 if the baseline assumption is that pharmacies nationwide fill this script once a month.

MAC list pricing by PBMs puts independent pharmacy owners at a considerable disadvantage. Adding insult to injury, the majority of the pharmacy owners on the PDSadvantage message board are in agreement that the appeals process is ineffective. A best-case scenario is periodic price adjustments depending on the appeal, which, in the long run, never affect changes in pricing for pharmacy owners as a whole. Overall, this process is designed to force busy owners to choose between below cost reimbursements or an endless cycle of appeals with little change in outcome. Many argue that the effort invested in submitting appeals isn’t worth it because the core of the problem isn’t addressed, and it takes up precious time that should be spent on growing the business, not in the pharmacy.

Fight Smarter, Not Harder

CVS Caremark and other Pharmacy Benefits Managment companies, such as the other 2 of the “Big 3,” OptumRx and Express Scripts, will continue to intentionally narrow the gap between reimbursement and acquisition cost while keeping the appeals process ineffective in the face of repeated price adjustments. This leaves independent pharmacies underwater. We at PDS don’t count ourselves among those who think fighting is futile. The answer is fighting smarter, not harder by making these issues and any other unfair regulations IRRELEVANT to how you operate your pharmacy business. Here and now, we can affect change that will make issues like unfair MAC pricing a blip on the radar. If we come together, our own collective and individual success will be exponentially greater than any threat the PBMs can sling. Filing appeals is a start, but alone it is not the answer. Informed pharmacy owners know that the focus should be on putting effort toward strategies that directly impact your bottom line.

Taking Matters into Our Own Hands, Together

There are over 1,800 pharmacy owners and professionals that know the value of fighting smarter with a proven plan, backed by a community that supports and stands with them. This gathering happens every February in Orlando, Florida.

Independent pharmacy owners just like you gather with the experts and titans of the industry to:

  • Give owners proven, sustainable strategies that will pay immediate dividends
  • Light the passion for pharmacy most owners lose in the landscape of this unfair game
  • Give you the confidence to battle MAC pricing, DIR fees, below-cost reimbursements and any other obstacle in your way – and win

Find your people. Fellow owners that are walking the same path as you. The value of this support and knowledge-sharing is priceless. If you’d like to continue to file appeals and disputes on your own, we commend you. At least you’re doing something and making your voice heard, but that is not your only recourse.

Attend the PDS Super-Conference and see for yourself why we are so confident in our ability to change your life that we have a conference guarantee.  If you don’t see the value of after the first day, we’ll reimburse your travel up to $500 and give you an additional $300 — no questions asked.

Is Medication Synchronization a Nuisance? Spoiler Alert: You’re Doing It Wrong

Medication Synchronization
 Most pharmacy owners who implement a medication synchronization program and still feel it is a nuisance don’t know that they’re doing it all wrong! They need to increase the synchronization volume in order to see success. In fact, once you get to 50% volume you triple your benefit from a sync program. Having difficulty getting to that percentage? Luckily, we have a solution that shows you exactly how to do that… a solution by the leading pharmacist on synchronization. Read on to find out.

With our SyncRx+ Intensive training course coming up, we’ve had requests for the Facebook Live video we posted below. In it, our very own Dr. Lisa Faast discusses the benefits of synchronization in your pharmacy and answered questions from pharmacy owners about our SyncRx+ program.

Watch the short video below and you will discover:

    • Benefits of a medication synchronization program
    • Managing the growth of a synchronization program
    • Mitigating inventory and staffing challenges
    • Identifying ideal patients for your program
    • Setting goals for your synchronization program
    • Managing compliance with patients

 

Still have more questions? Watch a free on-demand webinar, Sync or Sink: An Insider’s Guide to Successful Synchronization, hosted by the developer of the program, Jason Turner. He answers more in-depth questions about the program and exactly what to expect from the training plus the incredible results you’ll see.  Watch it now here.

SyncRx + Intensive incorporates the traditional synchronization adherence model and adds an MTM component. The program will help improve your pharmacy’s performance through data mining, improved quality measures, workflow efficiency.

Click Here to Learn More about SyncRx+ Intensive

 

Skyrocket pharmacy growth with #PDS2017 and Live Oak Bank

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There is no shortage of options for owners looking to impact pharmacy growth. Successful independent pharmacy owners must maintain a balance between growing profits, investing in the business, and managing operational cash flow. This formula is not new. However, in light of significant industry shifts and stringent regulations; the balance is more challenging to achieve. Success is a matter of surrounding yourself with the right team in an environment that will cultivate pharmacy growth. The PDS Super-Conference and premier sponsor Live Oak Bank are the solution partners you need to establish successful programs and unlock capital for your pharmacy.  

In an industry where large competitors have unlimited access to funds, and you need capital to implement essential profit programs; where do you start?

Step 1: Know Your Pharmacy Market

Understanding where your profits are coming from is the first step in taking your business to the next level. Passively waiting for the next prescription to walk through the door does not work anymore. The waiting game will not keep you operating at full potential. Actively targeting the most profitable aspects of your business keeps you on top of market conditions and prepared to adjust course in the face of changes.

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Step 2: Managing Pharmacy Cash Flow Effectively 

Cash is king, we all know it. Your pharmacy should have enough cash flow to reinvest back into your business and employees from marketing to new equipment, all while maintaining salaries and keeping the lights on. Mismanagement of or inattention to cash flow will limit how far you can take your pharmacy. It affects how banks look at you when applying for loans, and your ability to scale successful initiatives.

Pharmacy growth

These are just a few of the tips that we cover with independent pharmacy owners at the Annual PDS Super Conference. Our goal is to provide owners with the tools and solutions to establish a solid foundation, kickstart pharmacy growth, and provide ongoing support you navigate the industry in the coming year.

Learn More About the PDS Super-Conference

PDS Super-Conference


Live Oak Bank is one of the largest investors in community pharmacies in the industry and has provided nearly $750 million in loans since 2010. They provide funding and packages to address all of your pharmacy needs.

  • Quick loan closes – approximately 47 days
  • Favorable terms with low-interest rates
  • Low equity requirements

As your dedicated solutions partner, Live Oak Bank can assist your pharmacy with everything from facilitating prescription file purchases and software solutions to streamlining improved inventory management. As a major sponsor of #PDS2017 Live Oak Bank will be in attendance, making it the perfect time to stop by their booth and learn more about their loan capabilities, low-interest rates, and equity requirements.

 

Moneyball’s Paul DePodesta Brings Data Analytics to PDS2017

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Data Analytics For Pharmacy owners

We have said this countless times before; pharmacy owners play an unfair game. This isn’t just a maxim we tout to tug at your emotions. The unfair game is the core of why we wake up every day to champion pharmacy ownership. If you think you’re doing okay or getting by just fine, check out some of our pharmacy owners who are nailing data analytics among other strategies and winning the game.

Our winning strategy for lasting success is and always has been, an introspective one. The chances are that any deterioration on the outside will indicate a decay within. What is the first thing you look at when you start assessing your pharmacy business opportunities? Your team, customers, pharmacy data, financial statements, even yourself, should all be audited and tested to bat.

This is why our PDS2017 Keynote speaker is so relevant to our cause.

Paul DePodesta Has Made His Name Creating Actionable Strategies
Based on Data Analytics

During the show, he will get attendees to rethink how their system works by asking what Paul calls the naive question, ”If we weren’t already doing it this way, is this the way we would start?” By applying an analytics-driven mindset to common pharmacy issues, Paul will help PDS Super-Conference attendees rethink:

  • The idea that prescription volume equals pharmacy profits. Would you rather fill 100 scripts at $5 each or two scripts for $250?
  • The tools of the trade. Would you rather keep guessing at who your best customers are or experience tools that will revolutionize the way you visualize your data to target your plan?
  • The resolution that pharmacists must accept any customer and prescriptions that walks through the door. Wouldn’t you rather control where you get your profits instead of being at the mercy of the cash register?

For those unaware of why Paul is a results-driven analytics titan, he is the inspiration for the Moneyball Methodology used in the major motion picture “Moneyball,” starring Brad Pitt. Sound familiar?

He served as Assistant General Manager of the Oakland Athletics from 1999 to 2003. At the time of his hire, Oakland was one of the worst teams in the league, coming off of six losing seasons while posting one of the lowest payrolls in baseball. In an industry entrenched in ingrained thinking and outdated systems, the stagnant team needed the unique management and creative approach that A’s GM Billy Beane and Paul DePodesta brought to the table.

By Paul’s final four seasons in Oakland, the A’s won more regular season games than the New York Yankees, who during the same period spent $350 million more on player payroll than did the Athletics. By his unique approach and commitment to leverage data to maintain a level of unimagined success, he and Billy Beane revolutionized the way baseball teams are built. His work has been recognized by various publications, including Fortune, who named him one of the Top 10 innovators under 40.

At PDS Super-Conference, we’re not just going to make you more money. We’re going to revolutionize the way you see your pharmacy to get you fast results you have never dreamed were possible. Pharmacy data analytics is available to the independent industry and PDS is helping owners stay competitive in an increasingly challenging business landscape.

PDS Super-Conference

 

 

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.

 

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. 

 

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.