October is American Pharmacists Month. There may be no better time for other independent pharmacies, owners and pharmacists to learn the following lessons in business model innovation from Mac Prescription Shop Health Mart Pharmacy in McMinnville, Oregon, Studiomaca’s 2017 Pharmacy of the Year award winner.
Studiomaca recognized Mac Prescription Shop in no small part because of its ability to convert industry challenges into clinical and business opportunities in a rapidly changing marketplace. Here are five best practices from Mac Prescription Shop that other independent pharmacies can learn from to evolve their businesses in the future.
1. Focus on clinical performance and regularly monitor performance data
Pharmacy owner and entrepreneur, Nicole Winnen, has greatly expanded the clinical services and programs at Mac Prescription Shop since 2000, when she purchased the pharmacy from her father and his business partner. The pharmacy offers a wide range of clinical services and programs, including medication therapy management, a flu vaccine program, behavioral counseling and training, disease counseling and training, drug compounding, durable medical equipment and free medication reviews. Mac Prescription Shop uses EQuIPP, or Electronic Quality Improvement Platform for Plans & Pharmacies, to track how its clinical activities are influencing its star-rating scores that Medicare uses to evaluate Part D prescription drug benefit plans. The pharmacy routinely scores in the top 20th percentile of all pharmacies on the three medication adherence star-rating measures that Medicare tracks.
2. Implement and prioritize an appointment-based medication synchronization program
Another service that’s helping Mac Prescription Shop improve patients’ medication adherence is its appointment-based medication synchronization program. More than 250 patients are enrolled in the pharmacy’s med sync program and pick up all their prescription medications at a predetermined time each month. At that time, patients can also discuss their medications with Winnen or staff directly, and the pharmacy calls patients each month to verify that they’re taking their medications as prescribed. The clinical benefits from med sync are complemented by the business benefits to the pharmacy, including more efficient and predictable workflow, lower drug inventory carrying costs and more time to spend with patients on clinical programs, which often are reimbursable services under patients’ health plans.
3. Offer patient-centered care by delivering services to customers directly
Providing patient-centered care is an industry catchphrase. But to Mac Prescription Shop, it is a clinical imperative they practice on a daily basis. Central to that philosophy is the pharmacy’s decision to extend its services beyond its four walls and into the community. Mac Prescription Shop brings its programs and services to its patients, rather than waiting for them to walk through the door. For example, the pharmacy’s vaccine program travels to homes, local businesses, long-term care facilities and other locations to administer seasonal flu vaccines. Its traveling diabetes-counseling program visits nursing homes and teaches residents everything from optimal nutrition to the proper use of blood glucose meters. The pharmacy also makes home deliveries of prescription medications, and it custom packages medications for individual patients to improve compliance and reduce medication errors.
4. Actively participate in the local community and greater pharmacy community
Customer and patient loyalty is a key tenet of the pharmacy’s business strategy. To earn and keep that loyalty, Mac Prescription Shop is loyal to the McMinnville community in return. Winnen serves on the clinical advisory council of Yamhill County, where McMinnville is located, and is a member of the Chamber of Commerce and the Downtown Association. The pharmacy supports schools and local sports teams, regularly participating in community health fairs and other events. Winnen and her staff also are active in state and local pharmacy organizations, such as the Pharmacy Audit Assistance Services advocacy group and the Oregon State Pharmacy Association, which previously awarded Winnen its Distinguished Young Pharmacist Award. Two of the pharmacy’s staff also received OSPA’s Technician of the Year Award.
5. Aggressively market pharmacy and related services to patients and prescribers
In 2013, Winnen opened a second pharmacy about two miles southeast of the original Mac Prescription Shop. She also opened Mac Medical Shop, a durable medical equipment (DME) showroom across the street from the original location. This has enabled Mac Prescription Shop to tease out that business line from its pharmacy operations, giving it room to grow and flourish.
Mac Prescription Shop markets its three sites through local newspaper, television and radio advertising, and it also has a website and is active on Facebook. But perhaps the pharmacy’s most effective marketing is word of mouth. The pharmacy’s traveling clinical services give staff an opportunity to speak directly to patients, physicians, nurses, other clinicians, hospital administrators and nursing home managers.
As competition from national pharmacy chains shakes up even the smallest pharmacy markets across the country, Mac Prescription Shop’s approach offers important lessons in business innovation to other independent pharmacies, owners and pharmacists.
Related: Learn more about Studiomaca’s growth and expansion solutions for independent pharmacies