Long-Term Care: Expanding Into the Market

Keith Overfield
Published Online: Monday, April 14, 2014
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Demonstrating success is critical to building a long-term care business. How can your pharmacy make a difference?
The long-term care (LTC) market in the United States was valued at $258 billion in 2010 and is expected to grow at approximately 6% each year, reaching nearly $354 billion by 2015.1 Nine million Americans were in long-term care in 2012. By 2020, that number will increase to 12 million.2

What does the growing LTC market mean for pharmacists? Opportunity. For pharmacists who have decided to grow their businesses, LTC partnerships can be a volume pipeline. As the LTC patient population continues to expand, the shift to a value-based health care system means increased attention to lower costs, higher quality, and better patient experiences. LTC facilities are eager to build strategic partnerships with community pharmacists who understand the new value-based trend and the cost impact of lower hospital readmissions for their patients.

Consider that the average LTC patient takes 6 to 10 medications daily to manage 1 or more chronic conditions. Multiply that by 50, 100, or 200 beds per facility, and the number of prescriptions—along with potential revenue—adds up quickly.

Adding even 50 new patients with up to 10 prescriptions represents a significant workflow impact for a smaller pharmacy. Strategic growth built on technology and paced against a business ramp-up plan can help limit growing pains. Is your pharmacy primed to take advantage of the opportunity that LTC partnerships can provide? If the answer is yes, here are some steps to help make it happen.

Know Your Local Market
The first step to growing your business through LTC partnerships is to identify the players in your local market. You’ll need to learn about their business models. Who are the players? Who are their existing partners? What are the value gaps for which the LTC facilities need help in lowering costs, improving quality, and delivering a better patient experience? How can community pharmacy help fill those gaps?

Adding volume usually means a change in current processes. Don’t let the additional business gained from entering a new market come as a surprise. Anticipating workload, peak staffing times, and script volume triggers that require additional technicians or pharmacists will help community pharmacies turn volume into success. Do you have the necessary staff and equipment? Who will manage the day-to-day relationships with your LTC partners? How will you receive prescription information, handle medication changes, address issues outside or during normal pharmacy hours, and deliver prescriptions to the facility?

These questions usually lead to a delicate balance of investing in staff before the new partnerships are driving volume, against the risk of stretching existing staff and processes too thin while waiting for new revenue. Many pharmacies choose to restructure their team, dedicating a technician, pharmacist, nurse, and delivery driver to the new business. What are your volume triggers for adding new positions to ensure success?

Are you willing to automate your pharmacy workflow, if you haven’t already? Multi-dose patient adherence strip packaging can quickly increase operational efficiency to handle patient volume and lend predictability to the pharmacy work flow. A strip packaging system such as Parata PASS™ that organizes medications by date, time, and dose can set your pharmacy apart from those offering options, including blister packaging. As a market differentiator, this system sets your pharmacy apart from those offering other options, such as blister packaging.

First Steps for Building an LTC Business
Start by leveraging existing connections— physicians, home health agencies, and hospital discharge planners—for insights into which facilities to approach. Next, identify the decision makers—facility administrators, directors of nursing, or nursing staff—and start the conversation.

Demonstrating success is critical to building an LTC business. One way to do that is through a relationship with a continuing care, or transitional retirement, community, where there is diversity in levels of medical support. A small pilot program demonstrating a better patient experience with medication management or improved health measures can lead to the next opportunity.

The goal of the first meeting with a facility stakeholder is not to land a contract, but to establish trust by demonstrating an understanding of the needs of the facility. Do research ahead of time— online published state facility reviews will highlight any medication-related issues. Listen to the facility’s challenges and concerns. How can your pharmacy make a difference? How can the strip packaging you’re offering give the facility a tool for faster, safer medication delivery, improve adherence for patients who manage their own medications, and allow for more staff time for comprehensive patient care?

The next steps are all about the relationship—be available to answer questions, make suggestions, invite the administrators and staff on a pharmacy tour, or offer the staff a lunch-and-learn.

As a technology partner, Parata helps community pharmacists build LTC relationships for growth. Parata medication compliance specialists—nurses who have worked in LTC settings—help pharmacists consider opportunities and how to leverage technology to build local market partnerships.

Commit to making your first LTC partnership a success. Our customers find that happy administrators and nurses become their best marketing tool.

The LTC facilities you serve will enjoy an easier, faster, safer medication pass— and provide their staff the opportunity to spend more time with patients. You will bring in new patients, increasing your prescription volume and profits. And you will play a larger role within the health care team, helping reduce health care costs and supporting better outcomes for your patients.


In his current position as director of consulting services at Parata Systems, Keith Overfield focuses on helping pharmacies manage their Parata automation systems and aids them in establishing and developing new markets for their services. Previously, he served as Parata’s director of marketing and regional sales director. Keith received his BSE in engineering science from Vanderbilt University in Nashville, Tennessee, with minors in business administration and management of technology.

References:
  1. Yedinak J. Long term care revenues to reach $353 billion in 2015. Senior Housing News website. http://seniorhousingnews.com/2011/05/12/long-term-care-market-revenues-to-reach-353-billion-in-2015. Accessed February 28, 2014.
  2. Benz C. 40 Must-know statistics about long-term care. Morningstar, Inc, website. http://news.morningstar.com/articlenet/article.aspx?id=564139. Accessed February 22, 2014.


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