As independent community pharmacists come to grips with the need to expand their services, pioneers of change who spoke with Drug Topics have some words of advice.
1. “If you’re trying to go toe to toe with fast, accurate, and cheap, it’s a losing battle.”
Jake Olson of Skywalk Pharmacy in Milwaukee says dealing with competition from chain and mail-order pharmacies reminds him of the “make hay while the sun shines” philosophy that prevailed on the farm where he grew up. “When it starts raining and the big boys decide to come after something that you’ve been doing for a while, go do something else!” he advises.
“Either you’ve established yourself and you’ve done it really well, or you’re going to have to try to find something else. If you think you’re going to beat out the larger chains at their game, they’ve already gotten a big head start on you.”
2. “Engage with other pharmacists so you’re not in your own bubble.”
Stephanie Smith Cooney at Gatti Pharmacy in Pennsylvania promotes a sharing approach. “Statewide and nationwide there’s a lot of innovation happening, and independent owners as a group are generous, interested, and willing to share their ideas,” she explains. “We’re stronger together when we can share our ideas, and don’t just hole up and do our own thing. Being involved is a good way to get new ideas and to have people to serve as resources when you’re trying to vet a new idea.”
3. “Read and see all the new things that the chains are going to roll out.”
Phil LaFoy from Blount Discount Pharmacy in Tennessee takes a cue from emerging trends, which he says he can act on more quickly than big corporations. “I don’t have to go up the corporate ladder to make a decision. I call my partner and say, ‘What do you think about this?’” he says. “We’re all about willingness to change. The people who don’t adjust and change are going to dry up on the vine.”
4. “If we don’t document what we do, we’ll never be paid for what we do.”
Kurt Proctor, senior vice president of strategic initiatives at NCPA, notes that documentation is the way the rest of healthcare works. “It’s not rocket science,” he points out. “Those pharmacies that have adopted some form of a clinical documentation system are finding, first and foremost, that it helps in the store operationally.”
5. “Pharmacies think they can wait, and they really can’t.”
Trista Pfeiffenberger of CPESN urges pharmacists to act now to stay relevant and financially sustainable in their communities. “When health plans need a solution, they need a group that’s ready to go,” she warns. “That means you need to be striving to make these changes in your practice to be ready for these opportunities every day. Consider your options to get to the place where you’re ready for the Healthcare 2.0 that’s coming.”