Coming out of COVID: 5 Objectives for Boosting Rx Business and Cash Clinical Services


Ollin Sykes, CPA, CITP, and Scotty Sykes, CPA, CFP, discuss the business landscape after COVID within pharmacies and 5 objectives for focusing on growth again.

Business Growth

Coming out of the sudden, severe lockdowns from the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19), pharmacies are adjusting to a new way of serving patients and providing services. To build some positive momentum, here are 5 ways that current pharmacy owners are adapting their businesses to serve people. 

1. Crisis-Based Services 

During a crisis, helping your patients and community can also lead to new services. Out of COVID-19, pharmacies have the opportunity to provide items like hand sanitizer, cleaners, safety garments, infrared thermometers, and more. By packaging and pricing a variety of products for the size of company or organization, you help customers quickly get the supplies they need from a local source.

2. Managing DIR and GER Challenges

Direct and indirect remuneration (DIR) fees are typically the third largest expense in a pharmacy behind inventory and payroll costs. You can mitigate higher DIR fees by monitoring your Star Ratings, but also by exploring med syncing and compliance packaging. If you can reduce DIR fees by 1 to 2 percentage points through this investment, it’s easy to calculate how such technologies can pay for themselves and more — plus result in happier patients and families.

As for generic effective rate (GER) challenges and potential clawbacks, which are not influenced by performance measures, make sure that you know which contracts, if any, include GERs or “effective rate guarantees” in the contract language. You can work with your PSAO on contract terms, and also consider a separate inventory for plans with GERs. The separate inventory could be sourced differently with a higher average wholesale price to lessen a potential clawback.

3. Offering Cash Clinical Services

This is a pioneering area where pharmacists can identify ways to keep their patients healthier and prevent or manage larger health problems. It may include phlebotomy and clinical testing to identify and consult on the root cause of ailments that can be treated prior to or beyond medications. Whether that results in non-interactive private label nutritional supplements or food sensitivity solutions, you should explore cash clinical services that make sense for your pharmacy.

Explore a few private label providers before you move forward with patient testing and consulting. Build relationships with a few trusted vendors, and educate your team first so that you feel confident promoting probiotics or other supplements to patients.

4. Building Community Relations

Who are your target patients and customers? Take a look at who they are, the prescriptions they use, their family members, and common health care services. How can your pharmacy add value to their treatment experience and act as a resource?

For example, Nicolette Mathey, PharmD, a Florida-based pharmacist and a consultant to pharmacists through her company, Atrium24, identified elective surgeries as a trend in her community. So she developed a branded surgical treatment kit for cosmetic surgery clinics. The kits inform patients about surgery preparation and after-care. Often, the patients end up working with Mathey’s pharmacy on any medications or products related to their surgeries.

Another idea is to join — or have one of your team members join — public social media groups in the community. Interact with parents, coaches, or seniors on healthy living topics. Provide guidance if community members express a need that your pharmacy can solve.

5. Enhancing Quality of Life

What happens when your pharmacy becomes a resource in your community during challenging times? You are viewed as a health care provider and a friend, building a network of healthier, informed community members and patients who rely on your business. As a trusted resource, you gradually diversify your services and revenues, which improves your bottom line margins, profits and quality of life.

Coming out of COVID, make sure that your pharmacy is a part of the larger community and health care conversation. You matter.

Ollin Sykes is founder of Sykes & Company, P.A., and Scotty Sykes is a partner in the firm. Along with a knowledgeable team of counselors and advisors, they help independent and community pharmacies across the U.S. manage industry and business challenges — and thrive.

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