National Community Pharmacists Association to Host Annual Convention, Emphasizing Teamwork

Douglas Hoey, CEO of NCPA, discusses NCPA's Annual Convention 2022, which will be held in Kansas City, Missouri from October 1 to October 4.

To start, what are the main goals of NCPA and how does the annual conference help to achieve those goals?

Douglas Hoey: The mission of NCPA is to protect and promote the interests of independent pharmacy owners so that they can continue to serve their patients and protect their communities. That's the mission of NCPA, to help independent pharmacy owners use their business ingenuity to be successful.

The annual conference is a gathering of all of the independent pharmacy owners from across the country, and at this gathering, they share ideas, we have programs that help facilitate the sharing of ideas. We're bringing in some of the most successful pharmacy owners in the country to share what's worked for them, and often, just as important, what hasn't worked for them, so that others can avoid those pitfalls, and others can take advantage of the successes they've had.

We also will make some fun into it. We hope that everyone that comes, in addition to getting something for their business, something for their quality of life, we hope they also have some fun because we're going to have some fun, and we hope they do too.

What can people expect from this year's NCPA conference?

Douglas Hoey: This year, we're really focused on teams, and the development of pharmacy teams. The pandemic has really emphasized the importance of the pharmacy team to successful owners. It's something most successful owners have known for a long time, that their business success, and frankly, quality of life, is directly proportionate to how good a pharmacy team they have. The opportunities that are out there now for pharmacists really require a really solid pharmacy team.

We've got a number of programs that will help best practices of other pharmacy owners, how they have helped develop their team, what's worked, what's hot, what hasn't. We also have special teams pricing for the registration. So people are bringing 3 or 4 people from their pharmacy team. Because another thing I've seen in so many years of doing this pharmacy owners come, they get super excited, great ideas, they're just brimming with excitement, they go back to the store, and they're slammed with reality.

They also have to convey their excitement to their team. Well, the team wasn't there. Their team didn't feel that excitement, the team didn't hear it firsthand, no matter how good that person is explaining it. So by bringing some team members there, they’re over that first hurdle of the team being excited with them to help implement these ideas.

What is the most exciting part of the NCPA convention for you?

Douglas Hoey: Well, I don't know if that there's one most exciting thing. There are several things that that flip my switch, so to speak. One is we have committees of pharmacy owners, and they're asked to really focus on 1 thing, and in those committee meetings that happen 9 to 10 months before, a pharmacy owner will say, “Well, I'm doing this or I've thought about doing this,’ and a staff member will take note of that, ‘that could be a great program.’ Nine months later to 10 months later, to walk into a room with hundreds of pharmacists, seeing this idea that 1 pharmacy owner germinated months ago, to see that come to fruition, that's exciting to me.

First timers’ reception: that's exciting. Then also I'd be lying if I didn't say the food. I mean, the food is always really good, and I do enjoy that.

As attention beings to wane from the pandemic, how can pharmacists continue to spotlight the important work they do on the frontlines of health care?

Douglas Hoey: Pharmacists have done amazing work during the pandemic. One of the things we have to keep on doing is making it easy to work with independents. We were able to do that with the COVID-19 vaccinations. NCPA helped facilitate groups, and the groups were fantastic, working together to help bring the vaccines to 10s of 1000s of independent pharmacies. But one of the things that highlighted is that we have to have other ways to make it easy to work with independents. It's a competitive advantage that our opponents have chains, which can make it pretty easy to work with them by 1 signature. Anything that can help facilitate making it easy to work with independents, that that is job 1.

The second is really a mindset of filling primary care gaps. There are primary care gaps that are growing, and it's really becoming a health care crisis, not been able to fill these primary care gaps. It's clearly where the competition is going. If you look at CVS, Walgreens, Walmart, Amazon, they're all going in that direction. So CPSN is the independent pharmacies best opportunity to be able to work together to fill these primary care gaps as a network, while making it easy to work with independence. Keeping an eye out for primary care gaps, keeping an eye out for making it easy to work with independence, and being part of the CPSN network, those are all key things.

With point of care testing, immunizations, and other health services increasingly being performed in the pharmacy, how can pharmacists ensure they have the necessary demand to meet the expanding roles the profession has experienced?

Douglas Hoey: Back to the team's training, the team's development, because so many of these opportunities tied to your team, your pharmacy team. If you have a well-trained pharmacy team, they will assist the pharmacist, the pharmacy owner, in providing some of the services.

But secondly, if you've got a well-trained pharmacy team, they can run the shop and allow you to get out from behind the counter at least a day or 2 a week, and if you're able to get out from behind the counter, then you can go out and find new opportunities, bring in new business to your pharmacy, diversify your portfolio, so it's not only dispensing prescriptions, which is the bread and butter of our industry, but also providing other services.

Most of the successful pharmacy owners, I was talking to one just the other day where he said “yeah, I've got my team trained such that I feel good about not being at the counter all the time, and I'm using that time to go out, I'm working on diabetic shoes, I'm working on this or that with other health care providers in the community.” I've seen that time and time and time again, and so really a well-trained pharmacy team is kind of the key to unlocking the potential of the owner.

Is there anything you'd like to add?

Douglas Hoey: Just looking forward to seeing a lot of people in Kansas City. I was flipping through our education programming. One thing I haven't mentioned yet is our keynote speakers are especially outstanding this year. We've got Mike Abrashoff, who's a former naval commander, and he took the worst ship in the Navy and made it, his quote, “best damn ship in the Navy.” Then Will Flanary, who is on Twitter, on social media, he's a physician, and he's also a comedian. He's got quite a story to tell, and I know a lot of pharmacies watched his PBM video that explained PBMs in 2 minutes in what's taken the rest of us a career to try to explain. He did it in 2 minutes.

Most of all, the Chairman of the Federal Trade Commission, Lina Khan, has accepted our invitation to come to the annual meeting. Now, as far as I know, that's the first time we've ever had anyone from the Federal Trade Commission, let alone the chair at our meeting. I'm looking forward to that fireside chat, and then also taking some questions from pharmacy owners to ask her. So super excited about the keynote speakers.

The programming, the pre-convention programming and the programming. I was just flipping through it somewhat in preparation for our chat today, and it's really some great stuff. I mean, whether it's talking about how to develop your team, or how to get into the cash pricing business, or something about 340B or point-of-care testing, medical billing, that's another great, new area for independents. There's just so many great ideas, and these are all going to be presented by people who are doing it. It's not just some ivory tower kind of chit chat. It's people who are actually doing these things. A lot of exciting things to come to the convention if you haven't been, come, and if you have been, come again.