Beverly Hills Pharmacy—Pharmacy to the (Sports) Stars

Pharmacy Times, Volume 0,0

Thinking outside the box has allowed the Beverly Hills Pharmacy to continue its growth.

When Chris Geronsin, RPh,started working at the BeverlyHills Pharmacy (St. Louis, MO)in 1977, he had no idea where it wouldlead. A decade later he was holding thekeys to the pharmacy and had a newtitle?owner.

Geronsin admits that he was not tookeen on owning the pharmacy when histhen boss, Dominic Vitale, approachedhim. At the time, the pharmacy was fillingonly 38 prescriptions a day. Geronsineventually agreed after Vitale asked himseveral times. ?He handed me the keys,we shook on it, and he told me to payhim when I could. I paid him off in 8months. He gave me the opportunity of alifetime, and his name is still onthe door as proprietor.?

He took the opportunity andran with it. The once smallfootprint of the pharmacy hasexpanded at least 5 times to1800 sq ft, with the pharmacyoccupying 1600 sq ft. BeverlyHills Pharmacy now fills on average750 prescriptions a day,with 65% of the clientele usingthe pharmacy?s free deliveryservice. He said the pharmacymakes between 125 and 200deliveries a day. ?I encouragedeliveriesbecause others [pharmacies]do not, and I want to be part of it.?

The Personal Touch

The pharmacy?s success has comethrough a series of small events. Early inowning the pharmacy, Geronsin helpeda nun, who was a visiting nurse, searchfor home health care supplies. He hadthe supplies she needed and gave themto her gratis. The nun rememberedGeronsin and referred one of her patientsto the pharmacy. Geronsin said he sawthat the home health care market couldbe profitable. It is now a considerablepart of the pharmacy?s business. In thelate 1990s, the pharmacy began servingpatients needing HIV medications. Thepharmacy handles 300 to 400 patientswith HIV a month, and this is a large percentageof the pharmacy?s revenue.

Word of mouth led to the BeverlyHills Pharmacy serving the area?s professionalsports teams?the St. LouisCardinals and the St. Louis Rams. Thepharmacy fills prescriptions and bringssupplies to the team trainers, players,and owners. When the National FootballLeague recognized the St. Louis Ramsfor the ?best prescription records inthe National Football League,? the teamsent the award to the pharmacy. It isdisplayed on the pharmacy counter asproof of the store?s commitment toservice. Geronsin said he enjoys workingwith the professional teams, and theperks are not too bad either. ?Every kidwants to a get a chance to walk into thelocker room, and it is still a thrill for meevery time.?

As with many independents, BeverlyHills Pharmacy was impacted by theMedicare Part D prescription drug benefit,getting paid a lot less for fillingprescriptions, and reimbursement is takinglonger. On the other hand, the drugbenefit has had a positive effect on thepharmacy. ?Medicare Part D has beengood to me because patients come tome as an expert,? he said. This patientpopulation makes up 60% of the pharmacybusiness.

Technology Key to Success

Beverly Hills Pharmacy would notbe able to handle its current prescriptionvolume without technology. ?Wecould not complete all the scripts duringthe workday and either stayed late ordelayed our deliveries to the followingday. It was clear automation was ourbest course of action.?

The pharmacy invested in theParata RDS Robotic DispensingSystem 4 years ago. The roboticdispensing solution was designedto meet the needs ofpharmacies by automating upto half of a pharmacy?s prescriptionvolume, with a compact12-sq-ft machine that holds 252dispensing cells. The machinehandles 51% of Beverly HillsPharmacy?s scripts.

?It took the glass ceilingaway and allowed me to growmy business to where I neverthought. I have more time to counselcustomers and plan for my business,?he said.

He attributes much of his success to hisemployees and thinking outside the box.?Without the people I work with, I wouldnot be here. I have one of the best staffs inthe world. Everyone has a talent.?

As for competition, Geronsin does notseem too concerned. A major retail chainstore sits across the street on NaturalBridge Road. ?I do not worry too muchabout the chains. A motivated independentwill do very well against a chain.?