A host of economic forces are reshaping the competitive landscape for retail pharmacies. Among them are rising national health expenditures, increasing numbers of drug dispensing formats and growing expectations of convenience and cost-conscious customers. In response, independent pharmacies are seeking business model innovations that increase their business performance and clinical outcomes for patients. Five recent blog posts on McKesson.com highlight a number of solutions that can improve the clinical and financial performance of independent pharmacies and put them in a position to thrive in a new retail pharmacy world.

In “ Lessons from Pharmacy Innovators,“ four Health Mart pharmacies offered examples of innovations being made in three business areas: clinical performance; marketing; and expanded services. High on the pharmacies' list of tactics to improve their clinical performance were appointment-based medication synchronization programs and data-driven adherence programs that identify non-adherent customers or customers at risk for non-adherence. Marketing tactics focused on events that cultivate face-to-face meetings with prescribing providers and their staffs. Examples of expanded services included branded nutritional supplement lines and pharmacogenomics programs.

In “ Five Key Steps to Driving Independent Pharmacy Success," Rex Pharmacy in Atlantic, Iowa, revealed five key areas of its business strategy. In June, McKesson named Rex its 2016 Pharmacy of the Year award recipient. In addition to making medication synchronization a priority, Rex focuses on its clinical performance and monitors its EQuIPP data regularly; offers new clinical services to improve patient health and increase revenue; markets the pharmacy and its clinical outcomes to patients and prescribers; and actively participates in the greater pharmacy community.

In “ Four Big Trends Shifting the Business of Retail Pharmacy,” McKesson identified four trends that independent pharmacies could use to transform their businesses. With the coming boom in the number of Medicare recipients, pharmacies should make senior citizens a focus of their marketing efforts and service programs. With most Medicare Part D health plans now including a preferred pharmacy network as a benefit, independent pharmacies should work to gain access to those networks by offering high-quality clinical services at competitive prices. With prescription revenue flat or threatened by national pharmacy chains, small independents should diversify and expand their service lines to create new revenue opportunities. And with the growth in the use of specialty medications, independent pharmacies should develop a strategy for tapping into the specialty medication market directly or through partnerships with larger organizations.

In “ How Technology Can Transform the Business of Retail Pharmacy,” McKesson's Emilie Ray discussed how technology can enable independent retail pharmacies to improve their performance in three areas: patient engagement; clinical performance; and business operations. Ray, president of McKesson's Pharmacy Technology & Services business unit, said pharmacies need to provide patients and customers with online convenience. For example, they should have secure electronic access to their own medication histories and profiles and be able to refill prescriptions on mobile devices. Like the pharmacies featured in “Lessons from Pharmacy Innovators,” technology can support data-driven medication adherence programs as part of clinical program activities, Ray said. And various technology solutions can automate many manual retail pharmacy functions, reducing operating costs and freeing up staff time for other revenue-generating activities like medication therapy management, she added.

And in “ Reaping the Benefits of Pharmacy Technology,” Ray identified the three most common barriers preventing retail pharmacies from adopting technologies that would help them improve the health of their customers as well as the business health of their own operations. She said those common barriers are: cost, training and time. Ray said technology is an investment that retail pharmacies must be willing to make to reap the benefits. If they can't afford all technologies at once, they could phase-in tech purchases over time to reduce their upfront costs. As for training and time, Ray recommended the use of outside consultants to help retail pharmacies install and use technologies like pharmacy management systems, automated central fill and dispensing solutions and business services and point-of-sale systems.

As these five posts reveal, major changes in the way health care services are delivered are creating new clinical and business challenges for independent pharmacies. Creative pharmacy owners are pursuing innovative solutions to transform those challenges into opportunities. Fueled by technology, those solutions are enabling users to thrive in the new retail pharmacy world.

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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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