Build a better pharmacy business with adherence, MTM services, pharmacists say

February 25, 2013

At the Independent Pharmacy Business Growth Conference in Orlando, Fla., Dan Benamoz, RPh, CEO of Pharmacy Development Series, presented “Destroying the Status Quo in 2013!”

In his talk, Benamoz said that “the future is now” for creating successful pharmacy businesses through medication adherence and medication therapy management (MTM) services.

Bob Lomenick, RPh, joined in the discussion and said, “ ‘Destroying status quo’ is a sticky way of defining insanity – we keep doing the same thing and it’s not working.” Over the course of 50 years, pharmacists have been forced into a business model of filling prescriptions, but now it’s time to move out from behind the counter. “Improving medication adherence is our job,” he said.

Benamoz highlighted how pharmacists can create a synchronization program that will help with adherence and MTM and give people what they need and want, which is an easy and seamless service, especially for this “sandwich generation,” where people are taking care of their children and their elderly parents.

The first step in building a successful program is to identify the target audience, starting with the “low-hanging fruit,” Benamoz said, or people who are taking five or more prescriptions. Instead of asking staff to identify these patients, use an outside pharmacy management system, which can integrate different types of platforms. This process will help automate synchronization, taking away 95% of paperwork.

Certain systems can also track and manage patients by disease state, set immunization schedules, and help patients fill their prescriptions more often. But the underlying key, especially in the beginning of the process, is to “focus on keeping the customers you have, rather than trying to get new ones,” Lomenick said.

The next step is to grow your business, according to Benamoz, and use automation machines or a service that sorts a patient’s monthly medications into convenient daily packets, similar to the Daily Med service offered by Walgreens.

Pharmacists also need to think about how they market and deliver medications and services. Some ideas that Benamoz and Lomenick offered include the following:

  • Create medication list cards for patients to give to their doctors. It should include the pharmacist’s name, address, and phone number.

  • Set up a dose-reminder alert system for patients. Free programs are available online.

  • Create a notecard program. When you get a new patient, send a handwritten thank-you card. “It’s a great referral program,” Lomenick said. “People talk about it. The most effective marketing program is word of mouth. It has a snowball effect.”

The speakers also suggested educating patients through technology, including videos. Numerous stores in Canada use iPads to display videos of different topics and conditions, such as cholesterol. Short, informative videos then describe what it is, what causes it, and how it is diagnosed. This option allows for better counseling sessions, in which patients can ask questions and pharmacists can explain why the patient needs to take their medication as well as any side effects they might encounter.

One of the most important steps in the business-building process is for pharmacists to communicate with their patients and create bonds, the speakers said. Doing so, and offering strong programs, will help pharmacists run a better business and retain valuable customers.