Independent pharmacies are under growing pressure from chain pharmacy competition, from customers to meet their service expectations and from payers and providers to improve their clinical performance. In response, independent pharmacies across the country are transforming their business models to generate better clinical outcomes for patients and better business outcomes for themselves.

Lessons from Independent Pharmacy InnovatorsFour Health Mart pharmacies offer examples of innovations being made in three critical areas of their business, including clinical performance, marketing and expanded services. The four pharmacies are Rex Pharmacy in Atlantic, Iowa; Family Health Mart in Hampstead, Maryland; Iuka Discount Drug in Iuka, Mississippi; and Mountain View Pharmacy in Pleasant View, Utah.

These independent pharmacies shared their stories with McKesson (Health Mart is a McKesson affiliate) in hopes that their experiences will spark innovative ideas by other pharmacies faced with similar business challenges.

Improving Clinical Performance with Medication Synchronization, Direct Contact with Prescribers

Poor medication adherence adds billions to the nation's annual health care tab. The failure by patients to take prescribed medications or take them appropriately can exacerbate patients' medical conditions, leading to avoidable -- and expensive -- trips to the doctor or hospital. The following independent pharmacies demonstrate innovations to address medication adherence among patients:

1. Medication Synchronization Program: Rex Pharmacy is improving the adherence rates of its patients with an innovative appointment-based medication synchronization program. More than 450 customers are enrolled in the program and meet with the pharmacist on a monthly basis to pick up their multiple prescription medications at one time. This approach reduces delayed or skipped medications caused by inconvenient and avoidable repeat trips to the pharmacy. It also creates the opportunity for the pharmacist to discuss and address any other barriers to adherence faced by the patients.

2. Medication Adherence Program: Mountain View Pharmacy is tackling adherence from a different direction. The pharmacy uses data to track customers' medication behavior to identify those at risk for non-adherence or who have become non-adherent. Mountain View then contacts those patients' prescribers to discuss and address barriers to adherence and discuss high-risk medications, drug interactions and alternative medication therapies.

Driving Marketing ROI by Face Time with Prescribers, Local Advertising

For independent pharmacies, marketing is essential to bringing new patients to their stores. By leveraging a range of marketing tactics and engaging with their local community, pharmacies can acquire new customers and build relationships with prescribers. Below are examples of pharmacy innovations in the area of marketing:

1. Lunch and Learn Sessions: Mountain View Pharmacy holds regular “Lunch and Learns” with invited providers at the pharmacy. The sessions give owner, Hal Roe, and his staff needed face time with prescribers. It's also an opportunity for Roe and his staff to discuss and explain new programs and services happening at the pharmacy, including compounding of specialty drugs, patient adherence initiatives, medication compliance packaging and more. Daily prescriptions filled at Mountain View jumped to an average of 300 last year, triple the average of 100 being filled daily in 2013.

2. After-hours Receptions: Rex Pharmacy holds regular after-hours receptions for prescribers and their staff. The theme of the receptions is the pharmacy partnering with the prescriber community for better patient outcomes, says owner Josh Borer, who also hosts a weekly segment on local radio on seasonal health topics like allergies or the flu. The marketing strategy has contributed to a 20 percent increase in average daily prescriptions filled to 250 in 2015 compared with 2013.

3. Local Advertising Campaign: Family Health Mart raised the bar on its marketing efforts with a specific ad campaign that championed its pharmacists as “local unsung heroes.” The Local Hero advertising campaign featured radio, television and outdoor ads, says pharmacist Eric Yospa, 20 percent over the past two years and now is averaging close to 200 per day.

Expanding Clinical Services with Branded Nutritional Supplements, Genetic Testing

Focusing on the overall health of patients is a business imperative for independent pharmacies. By offering new clinical services, pharmacies can improve their patients' health and diversify their revenue streams. The following pharmacies illustrate business innovations that expand their clinical services to patients:

1. Vitamin and Mineral Supplements Line: Iuka Discount Drug, owned by pharmacist Chris Cornelison, created his own line of vitamin and mineral supplements and drug nutrient depletion products called Solutions Rx. They are sold under the brand name Restore and only offered to patients who meet specific clinical and medical criteria. In addition to selling 11 different Restore products to targeted customers, Iuka Discount Drug is selling a turnkey vitamin and mineral supplements and drug nutrient depletion products marketing program to other independent retail pharmacies that want to do the same thing.

2. Pharmacogenomics Service: Rex Pharmacy also is expanding its services to improve its customers' health and the health of its own balance sheet. Owner Josh Borer became certified in pharmacogenomics, and then the pharmacy began offering that service to patients. Pharmacogenomics, or PGx, is the science of understanding how an individual's genetic makeup affects their response to specific drugs. Borer can order a genetic screening for a customer and discuss the screening results and their impact on prescription medications with the customer and his or her prescribing provider.

From medication synchronization programs to radio shows to branded nutritional supplement lines, these four independent pharmacies are demonstrating to peers that business model innovations to improve their clinical performance, produce better marketing results and expand their services lead directly to better health for customers and patients and better business health for themselves.

Related: Learn about McKesson's Independent Pharmacy Services and Solutions

Editor's Note: To learn more about Rex Pharmacy, the recipient of McKesson's 2016 Pharmacy of the Year Award, read Five Key Steps to Driving Independent Pharmacy Success. McKesson also named Family Health Mart, Iuka Discount Drug and Mountain View Pharmacy as regional winners of its 2016 Pharmacy of the Year Award.

McKesson

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McKesson editorial staff is committed to offering innovative approaches and insights so that our customers can get the most out of the health care solutions they have and identify areas for operational improvement, revenue growth and improved patient satisfaction. If you have a suggestion for a blog topic you’d like to see covered, let us know in the comments.