As the market for independent pharmacies gets increasingly competitive, pharmacies increasingly should be open to business model innovation to survive. Five recent blog posts on make a strong business case for expanding clinical services for patients.

The types of programs include adherence activities, vaccine programs, appointment-based medication synchronization and medication therapy management.

In “Top Five Independent Pharmacy Trends for 2017,” McKesson asked Crystal Lennartz, chief pharmacist at Health Mart, a McKesson affiliate, to identify the top five trends that she felt would affect independent pharmacies the most this year. Topping Lennartz’ list was the need for pharmacies to focus on collecting and reporting performance measures that can influence the star ratings of health plans. Among those measures are metrics on patient adherence to diabetes, blood pressure and cholesterol medications. Also on her list was the need to integrate the voice of the patient in all pharmacy operations. “It’s not just whether a patient got a comprehensive medication review but whether that review was valuable to the patient and whether the patient was satisfied with the experience and had ideas to share on how to improve the process,” Lennartz said.

In “Five Steps to Better Business Results for Independent Pharmacies,” Lennartz reiterated her call for independent pharmacies to focus on star rating measures of importance to health plans but cited another benefit for pharmacies: many of the activities designed to improve performance on those measures also are reimbursed services under many patients’ health plans. “Pharmacies should consider clinical services that will benefit their particular patient population, drive star rating measures and are covered benefits under patients’ health plans,” she said. To achieve all three goals, pharmacies should engage patients to take ownership of their own medication use, Lennartz said. One of the most effective ways to do that is through medication synchronization. “It’s effective because it creates a dedicated point of contact between the customer and the pharmacy,” she explained.

In “Five Steps for Independent Pharmacies to Start a Vaccine Program,” McKesson’s Callie Barr unrolled the blueprints for independent pharmacies interested in launching or expanding an immunization program. “Clinical services and programs, such as administering routine and seasonal vaccines to patients, are a viable opportunity for independent pharmacies to grow their businesses,” said Barr, associate program manager in McKesson Retail Pharmacy Product Development. The five key areas for starting a successful vaccine program are: regulation, reimbursement, inventory, workflow and marketing. Vaccine programs also can serve as “gateways” to diversify into other areas, according to Barr, who explained: “They can learn what it takes to run a clinical program and become comfortable adding other clinical services to their business.”

In “The Value of Medication Synchronization to Independent Pharmacies” McKesson’s editorial staff took a deep dive on medication synchronizations programs, which Lennartz cited as an effective method of engaging independent pharmacy customers. The post identified and detailed six implementation criteria pharmacies should weigh when considering an appointment-based med sync program, including staff training, business model and potential patient volume. The post also listed and described four benefits of adopting an appointment-based med sync program, including increased revenue, operational efficiencies, stronger relationships with patients and providers and improved clinical performance. “With routine patient check-ins, pharmacies can identify gaps in care and ensure patient outcomes are positive,” the post explained.

In “Leveraging Medication Therapy Management for Independent Pharmacies,” McKesson’s editorial staff took another deep dive on another clinical program that offers clinical and financial benefits to independent pharmacies and their patients—medication therapy management, or MTM. The post identified and explained the three types of MTM and how they improve medication adherence by patients: targeted interventions, comprehensive medication reviews (CMRs) and targeted medication reviews (TMRs). The post also outlined a three-part strategy for integrating MTM services into the pharmacy’s workflows with the pillars of a successful program being technology, staff and appointment-based medication synchronization programs. “Pharmacies should have online MTM portals as features of their pharmacy management systems,” the post recommended.

As is often the case in health care, what’s good clinically for patients is good financially for the industry stakeholder that provides the service. Each of the five recent blog posts above makes that connection for independent pharmacies. The key to better business is better health for patients, and better health for patients can be clinical services and programs.

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McKesson editorial staff is committed to sharing innovative approaches and insights so our customers can get the most out of their business solutions and identify areas for operational improvement and revenue growth.

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