October is American Pharmacists Month, and what better way to celebrate than by honoring our 2018 Pharmacy of the Year award winner? This year’s recipient is Bartle’s Health Mart Pharmacy of Oxford, N.Y. Bartle’s is the perfect example of independent pharmacy success. It adapts to new pharmacy innovations and always puts patients first. It scores high on operational metrics and number of prescriptions filled (more than 9,600 per month). And it’s been a trusted pillar of the Oxford community for more than 50 years.

If you want to improve the success of your own pharmacy, take a page out of Bartle’s playbook. Here are some independent pharmacy best practices Bartle’s uses that you can, too.

1. Look beyond prescription dispensing

When customers come to Bartle’s, they feel like family. Pharmacists use behavioral interviewing techniques to engage with each patient individually. This helps patients feel heard. The pharmacy is also open 364 days a year and provides extended business hours, so community members know it’s there when they need it.

But Bartle’s does much more than fill prescriptions. It also provides:

  • Comprehensive medication reviews (CMRs)
  • Immunization programs
  • Disease-specific counseling
  • Medication synchronization (med sync)
  • An appointment-based model of care

For Bartle’s, moving to med sync and an appointment-based model were crucial first steps. Now patients can pick up all of their medications at the same time and talk through concerns. As a result, their visits feel more like consultations than transactions. Consider programs and services you can offer that will bring added value to the patient experience.

2. Maintain strong relationships with providers

Strong pharmacist-patient relationships are important. But so are the relationships you have with local providers. Bartle’s knows this firsthand. Communicating with providers helps the pharmacy create continuity of care. This leads to better outcomes. “Bartle’s is a great partner because of their willingness to have a two-way dialogue with us,” says Yusuf Harper, Medical Director for Primary Care at Chenango Memorial Hospital. “We frequently make adjustments in how we deliver our care based on the information that Bartle’s has.”

Talking to providers paints a clearer picture of a patient’s health. You hear about their unique challenges. You learn better ways to communicate with them. And when everyone is on the same page, patients receive more personalized care. Check in regularly with providers to keep the lines of communication open.

3. Make technology a priority

Plenty has changed since Brian Bartle bought his pharmacy from a neighbor in the 1960s. For one thing, it was the only pharmacy in Oxford at the time. But there’s also been a revolution in pharmacy technology that some independents have struggled to keep up with. Bartle’s has responded to these changes by being an early adopter of solutions such as med sync and EQuiPP. Software like EQuiPP provides Bartle’s with at-a-glance data. It helps keep track of patient adherence. It shows the pharmacy how it ranks on performance metrics compared with other pharmacies.

When it comes to technology, Brian Bartle’s real secret weapon is his daughter, Heather Ferrarese, Pharm.D. Since she joined as a partner more than two decades ago, she’s implemented new business solutions that help the pharmacy stay competitive. These tools automate previously manual processes. This gives pharmacists more time to spend on patient care. As you look to add new business solutions, ask yourself: What processes can you automate? What tools would give you more time to spend with patients?

4. Give back to your community

Whether it’s through money, time or knowledge, the pharmacy regularly gives back to the Oxford community. Bartle’s donates between three to five percent of all profits to local charities and helps other pharmacies get programs started in their stores. The pharmacy also created a drug takeback program by installing a box outside for patients to drop off unused medication. This small act was an important step to prevent prescription drug abuse.

The pharmacy also has a good working relationship with New York state senators. Bartle’s helps legislators understand how proposed laws might affect independent pharmacies. Heather Ferrarese sits on a number of boards, including the Chenango Health Network, which works to increase healthcare access and information in rural areas. Think of ways that you and other pharmacists can become more meaningfully involved in your community. Whether it’s donating to local charities or speaking up on issues that affect your patients, get involved and show that you care.

Why these pharmacy best practices work in the real world

All of these pharmacy best practices help Bartle’s meet its clinical and financial goals. Expanding its offerings boosts both revenue and patient relationships. Providing one-on-one counseling improves patient outcomes. Keeping up with new technology gives Bartle’s staying power. And giving back makes Bartle’s a trusted community pillar that people know they can rely on for years to come.

As you look to the future, use Bartle’s as a case study in pharmacy innovation. We celebrate Bartle’s award and encourage all independent pharmacies to use these best practices year-round.

Related: Learn more about McKesson’s growth and expansion solutions for independent pharmacies

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