The Advantage of Independent Pharmacies

Independent pharmacies are uniquely situated for personalized patient interactions.

Independent pharmacists’ ability to provide personalized care gives them a competitive advantage within value-based health care models.

Recent coverage of independent pharmacies has centered on the challenges they face, which include changes in direct and indirect remuneration fees and aggressive consolidation in the industry. However, independents have several important competitive advantages over their chain store counterparts.

For instance, the size and scale of most independent pharmacies allow for close, candid interactions between pharmacists and patients, which are key to operating within a value-based care model, Health Mart President Steve Courtman told Pharmacy Times.

“Research shows that consumers want a knowledgeable pharmacist and staff who they can trust,” he explained.

Courtman believes that independent pharmacies are uniquely placed to meet this increasing consumer demand.

“Independent community pharmacies are in a great position to leverage their competitive advantage: the delivery of local and personal patient care,” he said.

Beyond improving patient care, having a reputation for personalized patient interactions can help independents improve their bottom lines.

“[Independent pharmacies] will succeed by continuing to focus on delivering the personal attention, unexpected conveniences, and the trusted advice that patients have come to expect,” Courtman noted.

For example, Jason Kasiar, RPh, an independent pharmacy owner from El Dorado, Illinois, told Pharmacy Times at Pharmacy Development Services’ 2016 annual conference that the close relationships he and his pharmacists have had with patients for more than 50 years helps his pharmacy optimize patient outcomes and stay competitive.

“We as independent give our patients such a higher level of service. …We make sure they are compliant on their medications [and] we make sure that if they have problems, we’re there for them,” Kasiar explained. “I’ve driven to people’s houses to help them with their medications. I’ve opened up in the middle of the night to take care of them and you’re not really going to get that service” at a larger retail pharmacy.