Industry Outlook
 
Over the next 5 years, there appears to be a great opportunity for pharmacies and drug stores. Industry revenue is forecast to rise at an annualized rate of 5.7% to $393.1 billion, according to market research. With the shortage of primary physicians, pharmacists have an opportunity to play a pivotal role in health care by providing preventative care services, also known as point of care testing. Profit is expected to rise from 4.9% of industry revenue in 2017 to 5.9% in 2022.
 
It’s time for independent pharmacies to start digging deeper into their niche and focusing on more narrow areas, such as trying to gain access to limited distribution drugs, biologics, and orphan drugs.
 
Competition
 
Competition in the pharmacy arena will continue to be a significant issue for small independent pharmacies, as mass merchants try to consolidate with smaller chains to dominate market share. Currently, the top 3 large chains with the greatest market share are Walgreens Co (28.6%), CVS Health Corporation (21.7%), and Rite Aid Corporation (11.6%).
 
Market research shows that the top reason customers choose a particular pharmacy is due to proximity and accessibility. Independent pharmacies remain in the forefront for providing better patient satisfaction than the larger chains do. 
 
Collaborative Practice Agreement/Chronic Care Management: Opportunities for Pharmacists
 
Independent pharmacies still have the capacity to generate extra revenue for their pharmacy to stay afloat. According to CMS Star ratings, it’s out with the old and in with the new.
 
The old way of being reimbursed by CMS was based off of fee-for-service. Now it has transferred over to value-based care. The smaller chains with the allotted time can partner with physicians to maximize on star ratings and optimize outcomes by rolling out a new program called Collaborative Practice Agreements, also known as Chronic Care Management.
 
Collaborative Practice Agreements are formal agreements in which a licensed provider makes a diagnosis, supervises patient care, and refers patients to a pharmacist under a protocol that allows the pharmacist to perform specific patient care functions and help manage any patients with a chronic disease state. 
 
Not only will you be helping improve the outcomes of patients, but you also have the potential to significantly increase your bottom line. There are courses available to help you understand how collaborative practice agreements work and how to get started.
 
Pharmacists can certainly improve patient health by becoming an addition to the patient’s health care team. The patient care services provided by the pharmacist can help reduce fragmentation of care, lower health care costs, and improve patient outcomes. 
 
A 2010 study found that collaborative practice between a physician and a pharmacist help improve the care of the patient significantly. This is an avenue smaller pharmacies can start considering to help generate extra revenue.
 
The future of pharmacy continues to remain optimistic for independent pharmacies. It’s all about capturing specific leads and capitalizing on these opportunities to help optimize patient outcomes, while also generating revenue. As value-based care continues to grow, smaller pharmacies will continue to be on the rise.


Brandon Welch is the executive vice president of the American Pharmacy Purchasing Alliance and sits on the Advisory Board of Digital Marketing for the University of South Florida​, where he is a PharmD candidate.