Adapt or Go Home: Surviving the Evolution of Independent Pharmacy

Pharmacy TimesOctober 2018 Diabetes
Volume 84
Issue 10

An industry-wide fire is raging, and what got you here will not get you to where you want to go.

An industry-wide fire is raging, and what got you here will not get you to where you want to go. Those who adopt the critical skills necessary to survive and thrive will be the winners. New circumstances require new skills and tools; the alternative is bleak.

What you need to do in your pharmacy, right now, is find new ways to:

  • Drive sales, growth, and profits
  • Retain your customers, find ways to bring them in more often, increase their point-of-sale purchases, and build iron-clad loyalty
  • Build relationships with prescribers to reclaim your role on the patients’ health care teams
  • Leverage data to make decisions versus operating from your gut

We are not reinventing the wheel. Adapt and access the skills, tools, and mindsets that give you the chance to thrive in any environment. Below is a strategy for ALL independent pharmacy owners that will reinvigorate our industry.

This is not a complete and comprehensive plan but a launch pad. If we can strategically coalesce on a few key fronts, we are going to see an entirely different industry ripe with opportunities.

Independent pharmacy owners around the country are experiencing incredible results. For example, we have seen 100 new Pharmacy Development Service (PDS) members alone recognize more than $52 million in profits directly attributable to PDS programs.

It is not just about taking more money to the bank. It is about creating pharmacy cultures that elevate the patient experience and generate better outcomes while enhancing the work environment for optimal productivity. Let’s dig in!

Policy Making

Industry Lobbying

In a highly regulated industry such as ours, any big-picture strategy needs to include lobbying. We cannot deny the political activism required to help the government understand the colluded powers of pharmacy benefit managers (PBMs), and with its new administration, it appears that the National Community Pharmacists Association is gaining significant traction. These efforts must continue, so please support them.

State-Level Activism

The Arkansas Pharmacists Association recently rallied its troops and made an impact educating lawmakers about PBM underpayments and abuses. It looks like it is headed toward PBM regulation and oversight. The independent pharmacy owners in Arkansas are about to see the values of their stores collectively increase, proving that separately, we are a glass of water, but together, we are a tsunami.

The Pharmacy Promise

We do not work for the insurance or the pharmaceutical companies, we work for you! We promise to work with your doctor to find you the best product available for which your insurance will pay, so that you get the best possible outcome.

We have developed this Pharmacy Promise that defines excellence and identifies for whom the pharmacy works and for whom it does not. It is why independent pharmacies work so hard for their communities. This statement positions us as the patient advocates we have been all along.

Therapeutic Optimization

When would it be appropriate for a pharmacist to recommend a therapeutically optimized treatment for a patient? When an alternative therapy is shown to be more efficacious, better tolerated, more convenient, or less costly to the patient. Be the advocate for your patients by going the extra mile. This brings our Pharmacy Promise to life.

Prescriber Relations

We must get prescribers more engaged in the process and expand our pharmacies’ services and profit sources beyond dispensing prescriptions. Through programs such as bedside delivery, annual wellness visits, therapeutic optimization, pharmacogenomics, and med-sync, we can leverage close relationships with prescribers to help the entire triad of health care.

Buying Groups

Buying groups play a critical role in our success. We must act together and in ways that make us stronger, to allow our partners to bring even more meaningful buying opportunities. Aggregating our purchases on a few select National Drug Codes that are beneficial to our patients and make economic sense opens enormous opportunities.

Manufacturers rarely want to work directly with independents. We now have their attention; let’s show them what we can deliver.

Data Insights

If owners optimize what is within their control, the impact of outside influences diminish. It is not just about filling more prescriptions. It is critical to identify where you are making money and doing more of that and where you are losing money and doing less of that. Shift from measuring success by script volume to profit per script. Would you prefer to fill 100 $4 prescriptions or 4 prescriptions, each with a $100 profit? Which requires more effort?

Data are key to identifying those types of high-margin drugs, prescribers, and patients that already exist within your pharmacy and are likely untapped potential. We are talking about science and mathematics, no magic wand or genius IQ.

PDS believes that robust data analytics is so vital to the industry that we developed our own software to help owners: RxAnalytics.

Business Literacy

Our biggest challenge is the mindsets of many owners. People are settling for less because either they do not think that they can or they do not believe that they deserve to be that successful. Just because they did not tell us how to run pharmacy businesses in school does not mean we can ignore this.

Ever wonder how some owners work overtime and others work far less and make far more? How some find massive profitability in the same industry others toil in? These successful owners know that education is not expensive, that lack of knowledge that will cost you.

We cannot buy Target, Aetna, AmerisourceBergen, or Amazon. But we do have the network, resources, mentality, and opportunity to create a very bright future for ourselves and the next generation of independents.

The next few years are ours to take, a future where direct and indirect remuneration fees, clawbacks, and low-margin prescriptions are irrelevant to your success. It is time to let go of our old ways. Momentum is on our side.

Be in the room when PDS unveils the next evolution of the independent pharmacy strategy. Learn what is new, hot, and working right now to maximize profits. The PDS Super-Conference is more than your typical rah-rah pump-you-up pharmacy conference. It is 3 days of strictly actionable strategies and content. We have a strict “no theory” policy when it comes to our pharmacy conference.

Discover how attending the PDS Super-Conference can immediately and positively affect your bottom line at

Related Videos
Practice Pearl #1 Active Surveillance vs Treatment in Patients with NETs
© 2024 MJH Life Sciences

All rights reserved.