Running a pharmacy can be a rewarding experience. You don’t just help patients with their prescriptions—you help them with their overall health. And the care you provide patients can have a ripple effect on the health of their community, too.

But the pharmacy business isn’t without challenges. Whether you run an independent, chain or hospital pharmacy, you need to constantly navigate new obstacles. Successful pharmacy owners thrive because they know how to persevere through the changes each year may bring—and constantly look for ways to improve.

In fact, some of our most popular blog posts have been ones that offer tips on how to navigate the ins and outs of running a successful pharmacy. Here are some insights from our top-read blogs on ways your pharmacy can see continued success.

1. Improve your inventory management

For hospital pharmacies in particular, inventory management is a constant juggling act. You need to prevent drug shortages. You need to carry new specialty drugs without breaking the budget. And you need to stock the most effective drugs at the lowest possible cost to satisfy value-based reimbursement. How do you balance these demands? Cindy Jeter addresses this in “Taking Your Hospital Pharmacy’s Inventory Management Skills to the Next Level.” Jeter is the supply chain management consultant for McKesson RxO. She suggests the following inventory management tactics:

  • Optimize technology. Make sure you’re using existing technology platforms to their full capabilities.
  • Create monthly reports. Measure things like drug usage and spot trends over the month. Then, adjust your inventory accordingly.
  • Develop action plans. After reviewing your reports, take action. Develop an inventory reduction plan. Create a regular drug shortage restoration process.
  • Monitor drug supply. Keep a constant eye on your drug supply to avoid over-stocking or wastage.
  • Add expertise. Consider adding specialists to your hospital pharmacy to improve inventory management, like an IT and analytics expert.

When you improve your inventory management, you can prevent drug shortages. You can make sure you always have the right drugs for your patients. And you improve efficiency. This all works to help your hospital pharmacy remain successful for years to come.

2. Switch to ePAs

For chain pharmacies, manually filling out a prior authorization (PA) request is time-intensive. Switching to electronic prior authorizations (ePAs) can benefit both you and your patients. Michael Bukach discusses this in “Navigating Prior Authorizations at Your Chain Pharmacy.” Bukach is the senior vice president of pharmacy for CoverMyMeds. He explains that with ePAs, your system automatically determines whether a PA is required and immediately transmits the request to the physician. Streamlining the prior authorization process this way has several benefits:

  • Your patients start taking their medications right away. This gives them a greater chance to improve their health outcomes.
  • Your pharmacists spend less time manually filling out a PA and more time with patients, one-on-one.
  • The chances of prescription abandonment decrease, which helps your bottom line.

When your chain pharmacy switches to ePAs, you can deliver a competitive advantage in speed and quality of care to your patients. When patients can start taking their medication sooner—and start feeling better—everyone wins.

3. Watch for new profit strategies

Independent pharmacy owners should constantly look for opportunities to improve profits, either by growing their revenue or cutting costs. But this can be a tricky balancing act. Robin Page offers up some strategies in “How to Improve Revenue at Your Independent Pharmacy.” Page is the regional franchise director for Health Mart. She lists several ways to see better financial results at your pharmacy. Some examples include:

  • Sell more over-the-counter (OTC) products. When a patient comes in to pick up a prescription, think about whether or not they could benefit from an OTC product. For example, you might suggest a calcium supplement to someone at risk for osteoporosis.
  • Start a vaccine program. If you don’t already offer flu vaccines at your pharmacy, it’s time to start. You should also consider vaccines for things like pneumonia or shingles.
  • Implement med sync and automatic refills. Medication synchronization (med sync), which lets patients get all of their medications at once, can help control labor costs if you’re repeatedly making separate delivery once a week or month. You can also implement automatic refills so you don’t tie up money with drugs that you won’t dispense for weeks.

Thinking of ways to bring in more revenue and cut labor costs will lead to better profits over the long run. Plus, you’ll offer more to your patients and the community at large, which will help you stay competitive.

4. Partner with a PSAO

In recent years there’s been a shift from fee for product or service to performance-based reimbursement. But how can your independent pharmacy succeed if you don’t know what parts of your performance factor into your reimbursement? That’s where a pharmacy services administrative organization (PSAO) can be useful. Eyad Farah discusses this in “How the Right PSAO Partner Can Enhance Your Independent Pharmacy’s Performance.” Farah is the vice president and general manager of Health Mart Atlas. He notes that a PSAO can be your advocate by doing several things:

  • Work with payers and pharmacy benefit managers (PBMs) to build the performance measures that are right for pharmacies in its network
  • Provide access to the services and tools that help you meet those performance measures
  • Act as your coach as you work to achieve those outcomes

Partnering with a PSAO helps your independent pharmacy take a proactive approach to working with complex payers and PBMs. This will not only help you run more efficient day-to-day operations, but boost your bottom line in the long run.

5. Set up a successful sale

When it comes time to retire from your pharmacy career, selling your independent pharmacy under the right conditions can be its own success story. Jim Springer discusses this in “Selling an Independent Pharmacy.” Springer is the regional vice president for Rx Ownership. He notes that selling your pharmacy at the right time, for the right price, takes a strategic approach. If now’s the time to say farewell to your pharmacy, here are several ways to set up a successful sale.

  • Sell when your pharmacy is operating at its peak financial performance. A prospective buyer will look at the past several years of financial records to see what direction the business is headed in before they make an offer.
  • Stay on top of foreseeable changes in the local market. For example, the retirement of a local doctor whose prescriptions for specialty drugs make up a large share of your prescription revenue.
  • Prepare your pharmacy for sale. Just like preparing a home for sale, you should make sure the physical appearance of your pharmacy is clean and refreshed. All shelves should be full of up-to-date inventory. Remove any clutter and make sure everything’s working properly.

Though it takes some strategic planning, selling your pharmacy at the right time can help you achieve the best financial results. You may consider working with an accountant or your financial planners to discuss different potential scenarios, too.

Whether you a run a small local pharmacy or a large-scale hospital pharmacy, one thing remains the same: perseverance, planning and strategic thinking can all help you see success throughout your career.

Related: Learn more about McKesson’s services to buy, start or sell an independent pharmacy

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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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