Community Pharmacies Seek Perfect Blend

March 2, 2021

Insight on direct coaching and implementation support for new pharmacy business initiatives.

Most everyone is up for a great cup of coffee. At Mac’s Pharmacy, they aren’t serving hot brew, but they have figured out the perfect blend to ensure practice transformation success.

Matt Crawford, PharmD, is the Flip the Pharmacy champion for Mac’s Pharmacy and leads their practice transformation effort. He said that he’s blessed with 3 things that make it work: An owner who is supportive, a coach who is brilliant, and a team that is willing to listen and try something new.

Mac's Pharmacy was established in 1989 and now has 5 locations near Knoxville, Tennessee, including North Knoxville, Maryville, and Oak Ridge. All locations participate in CPESN® Tennessee and CPESN USA.

Matt is the pharmacist-in-charge at Mac’s North Knoxville location, which started the Flip the Pharmacy program in October 2019, along with 500 other pharmacies across the country. Flip the Pharmacy is a 5-year pharmacy transformation program aiming to re-work community-based pharmacy practice beyond filling prescriptions and toward an ongoing focus on a patient's health.

Mac Wilhoit, founder and owner of Mac’s Pharmacy, has been leading the charge for extended clinical support services by community pharmacies.

“We are really lucky to have an owner who is an advocate for the profession and saw the need for community pharmacists to move beyond just filling a prescription bottle,” Crawford said. “Mac believes that dispensing will always be a part of pharmacy, but those pharmacies that don’t develop and include clinical services won’t be around much longer. His support of our efforts in Flip the Pharmacy has been invaluable.”

Ingredient #1, check.

Looking back to the start of the program, Crawford knew that even with Wilhoit’s support, he would still need collective buy-in from his pharmacy staff.

“Anytime you try something new there is a little hesitation, but once we got rolling on our medication synchronization, our staff realized that there was a lot more time at the pharmacy,” Crawford said. “That was an important turning point.”

The North Knoxville location now has over 45% of its prescription fills running through its medication synchronization process. Leveraging the appointment-based model is a key tenet of Flip the Pharmacy.

“Now, we can’t believe how many prescriptions are completed at the end of each day, even though the workflow wasn’t crazy,” added Crawford. “The staff has really bought into it.”

Ingredient #2, check.

The component to the successful mixture has been Mac’s Flip the Pharmacy coach, Jessica Robinson.

“Jessica has been such a blessing. She is brilliant. She helps the staff see the true benefits of the program even with the extra documentation. She comes in and energizes us with encouragement, but also holds us accountable to get the next steps completed,” Crawford said.

Using monthly change packages, Flip the Pharmacy coaches work with local pharmacy teams to implement the 6 key transformation domains with an emphasis on continuing patient care planning with documentation in various eCare plan platforms.

Robinson, PharmD, is a practicing pharmacist and associate professor at the East Tennessee State University Bill Gatton College of Pharmacy. Flip the Pharmacy coaches were funded by the Community Pharmacy Foundation and local team sponsors. In east Tennessee, coaches were funded in part by a team sponsorship donation from AmerisourceBergen.

“The face-to-face aspect of coaching shouldn’t be understated,” Crawford said. “We took a hiatus due to the COVID pandemic, but we are really looking forward to having Jessica back in the pharmacy. She’s that important to our success.”

Ingredient #3, check.

When asked what he’d recommend to another pharmacist considering Flip the Pharmacy, Crawford didn’t hesitate, “It is vital to the future of your pharmacy. They give you the roadmap to follow and the support you need to adapt to change. You should take advantage of that.”

The Flip the Pharmacy program hopes to directly support 1000 pharmacies, just like Mac’s Pharmacy with coaches like Jessica, and impact thousands more. To date, over 800 pharmacies are receiving direct coaching and implementation support. Learn more at flipthepharmacy.com and access the publicly available change packages, by clicking here.