Optimism is strong around the pharmacy industry as we head into a new decade, and many believe that 2020 is going to be a pivotal year for the industry.
Raj Jhala, PharmD, Pharmacist in Charge of Saint Peters Community Pharmacy, located in Saint Peters, Missouri, said that in 2020, more and more pharmacies will be offering delivery.
“From my perspective, with Amazon entering the prescription market with PillPack, and Walmart, Costco, and CVS offering delivery, brick and mortar shops will have to move in this direction,” he said. “Every year from here on out will see a greater trend toward delivery.”
Brian Nightengale, RPh, president of Good Neighbor Pharmacy, a cooperative network of more than 4500 independently owned and operated pharmacies, said the reimbursement environment has continued to intensify and its impact on the pharmacy segment is going to become more visible in the year ahead.
“Across retail chains and independent community pharmacies, we’ve already seen poor reimbursement impact bottom lines and ultimately lead to store closures,” he explained. “2020 will be a defining year for pharmacies that have stayed complacent and those who have pushed to diversify their businesses. And this year, those who have worked to develop new solutions beyond dispensing will benefit from that decision and see opportunities for more growth.”
Ramzi Yacoub, PharmD, chief pharmacy officer at Boston-based RxSense, said as insurance plans and patients continue to try to find ways to help reduce their medical and pharmacy spend in 2020, he foresees increased enrollment in high-deductible health plans (HDHPs).
“As a result, patients will continue to look for lower cost options when purchasing prescription medications,” he said. “Patients are increasingly comparison shopping for their medications and taking advantage of prescription savings services like SingleCare to save money on their medications.”
In 2020, he also expects the continuation of health care services expanding in retail pharmacy settings as pharmacies try to increase offerings for more convenient services.
“I predict that there will be continued consolidation in the retail pharmacy landscape as chains, grocers, and others adjust their footprints to the right size,” Yacoub said. “We’ve already seen 2 of the largest chains announce strategic store closings. Grocers like Raley’s have closed some of their pharmacies and HealthPartners is preparing to close 30 local pharmacies. We also expect to see disruptors in the pharmaceutical industry, such as Roman, Simple Health, Hims and Capsule, continue to focus on the consumer experience.”
Benjamin McNabb, PharmD, owner at Love Oak Pharmacy in Eastland, Texas, believes more pharmacies will enter into new care management and community health worker roles in 2020.
“These are exciting new opportunities because health plans typically spend far more on care management than prescription drugs and industry leaders believe pharmacies can do it much more efficiently,” he said. “To provide these enhanced services, I encourage pharmacies to join an enhanced services network like CPESN(R) and leverage a Pharmacist eCare Plan platform.”
McNabb said Love Oak Pharmacy has used FDS ENGAGE and FDS MYDATAMART to improve patient medication adherence and increase revenue by nearly $500,000.
With things getting tighter with reimbursement, Jhala believes there will be a consolidation of the various branches of pharmacies.
“New hub-style pharmacies will emerge—where there’s 1 large pharmacy that caters to more of the patient population with different offerings and features,” he said. “With more and more prescriptions moving online, we’ll see the growth of these large pharmacy offerings.”
Brian Roberts, CEO of PipelineRx, which offers telepharmacy services and a technology platform designed to optimize clinical pharmacy, said in 2020, he expects the transition to thinking and deploying pharmacists in a more strategic way to continue.
“Specifically, the regulations and focus on antimicrobial management will require greater pharmacist engagement and augmentation,” he says. “We also expect 2020 will see an increasing awareness and use of personalized or genetic screening to inform the management of complex drug protocols.”
As the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) continue to encourage bundled care and other forms of value-based care, Roberts believes the effective pharmacist-led medication review and verification will be increasingly important to enable health systems to reduce medication variability.