ELEMENTS WASTE NOT Tips for starting a medication disposal program in your pharmacy
PIONEERING VINTAGE CARE Ritzman Pharmacy translated old-school values into the 21st century to create a pharmacy of the future
Fixing Your Fixtures Tips for selecting pharmacy shelving and fixtures that wonâ€™t leave money on the shelf VOL. 5 ISS. 2 | JUNE 2016 | PBAHEALTH.COM/ELEMENTS
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The business magazine for independent pharmacy
STAFF & CONTACTS Matthew Shamet – Publisher and Editorial Director Kirsten Hudson – Editor Kellie Paxton – Art Director Kathleen Barbosa – Contributing Writer Analisa Bregant – Contributing Writer Paige Fisher – Graphic Designer INTERESTED IN ADVERTISING? email@example.com
Contents Departments 5 NEWS:
Emerging Opportunities A look at the trends, opportunities and challenges for pharmacists providing patient care services today. 6 TRENDS:
Automating Dispensing Boost adherence, improve dispensing accuracy and grow your business with SynMed®. 24 MONEY:
Scope of Practice Pharmacists are providing more patient care services than ever, but their scope of practice still has room to grow. 8 RETAIL:
Pay-for-Performance MedHere Today™ helps pharmacies strategically improve patients’ outcomes to get paid for high quality performance. 29 OUTLOOK:
On the Shelf Boost front-end sales with engaging shelf signs. 11 SOLUTIONS:
Waste Not Tips for starting a medication disposal program in your pharmacy.
ON THE WEB //
Pioneering Vintage Care Ritzman Pharmacy translated old-school values into the 21st century to create a pharmacy of the future. 34 NOTES:
Vitamin Trends Vitamins are in-demand. Is your pharmacy keeping up with the latest trends?
Feature: Fixing Your Fixtures
Tips for selecting pharmacy shelving and fixtures that won’t leave money on the shelf.
Find more strategies, tips and expert advice to improve your business at pbahealth.com/elements.
Are You Offering the Most In-Demand Patient Care Services?
The way patients receive care is changing drastically, and pharmacists are at the forefront. Are you offering the services patients are looking for? Read more at pbahealth.com/are-you-offering-the-most-in-demandpatient-care-services.
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Emerging Opportunities A look at the trends, opportunities and challenges for pharmacists providing patient care services today It’s no secret that pharmacists are playing a pivotal role in their patients’ health care. But the recently released 2016 edition of the American Pharmacists Association (APhA) Pharmacists’ Patient Care Services Digest, a publication that tracks the trends and delivery of pharmacist-provided services, is presenting the data to back that up. The Digest examines how pharmacists influence access to care, and specifically looks at disease state education, immunizations, medication adherence services, disease state management, care transition services, health and wellness screenings, nutrition and weight loss counseling, and smoking cessation. “The publication provides important information to stakeholders inside and outside the pharmacy profession as we continue to expand pharmacists’ roles as health care practitioners to members of the communities they serve,” said Ryan M. Burke, Pharm.D., associate director, practice initiatives at APhA. DEFINING THE DIGEST The Digest was originally focused on medication therapy management (MTM), but expanded in 2014 to include a broader range of patient care services. “This expanded scope helps to highlight the diverse nature of the important health care services that pharmacists can provide,” Burke said. The Digest also offers additional insight into the transforming profession. “The Digest is packed with insights into how the pharmacy profession is evolving, including the types of services being provided, how the services are being marketed to consumers, how pharmacists are being reimbursed for such services and more,” Burke said. While the Digest doesn’t specifically examine independent community pharmacy, it provides a perspective to help independent pharmacists identify opportunities to expand the types of patient care services
By the Numbers A few findings stood out in this year’s American Pharmacists Association (APhA) Pharmacists’ Patient Care Services Digest. 88 – Percent of pharmacists surveyed reported offering medication management services 84 – Percent of pharmacists surveyed reported providing disease state education 46 – Percent of pharmacists surveyed reported providing services to patients in medically underserved areas
they offer. “We recognize that significant innovation has and will likely continue to occur within community-based independent and regional chain pharmacies,” Burke said. INDUSTRY TRENDS This year’s Digest noted an increase in legislative action across the nation to support expanding consumer access to, and coverage for, pharmacists’ patient care services at the national and state levels. “Confidence in pharmacists as care providers continues to grow,” Burke said. The data also indicates that pharmacists are paying attention to shifting industry trends. “Pharmacists are expanding capacity for improving quality metrics in response to pay-for-performance incentive structures and value-based payment systems,” Burke said. As the profession advances, it will be interesting to see increased diversity in the types of services provided, Burke said. “Recognition and coverage of pharmacist-provided patient care services should create more incentives for pharmacists, pharmacy owners, and pharmacist employers to expand the services offered and integrate these services into evolving care delivery models,” he said. The Digest is available to download for free at pharmacist.com/digest.
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Scope of Practice Pharmacists are providing more patient care services than ever, but their scope of practice still has room to grow Pharmacists today are taking on larger roles thanks to expanded scopes of practice. They can administer some vaccines and immunizations in all 50 states, and can administer any vaccine in 45 states, according to the American Pharmacists Association (APhA). Recently, California and Oregon adopted groundbreaking laws enabling pharmacists to prescribe birth control without a doctor’s prescription, and other states are expected to pass similar legislation. Fifteen states have also expanded pharmacists’ role in fighting opioid and heroin abuse by making naloxone, the overdose-reversal medication, available without a prescription. The expanding scope of practice for pharmacists is spurred by a deficit of primary care providers, and Russell Melchert, Ph.D., dean of the School of Pharmacy at the University of Missouri–Kansas City in Kansas City, Mo., said pharmacists are well positioned to help fill this shortage and to take on a larger role in managing patients’ health. “Pharmacists are the second-most highly trained, second-most highly trusted and the most accessible health care provider,” Melchert said. “And, nearly 30 years of published scientific literature has shown that for every $1 we spend on pharmacy services, it saves $4 on health care costs.” “Why not expand the role for somebody who is highly educated and highly respected, and on top of that, the most accessible health care provider?” he said.
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FUTURE OUTLOOK FOR PHARMACISTS Melchert said pharmacists’ scope of practice will continue to expand. “I think it’s only going to grow,” he said. “We will see some publications documenting the benefits of pharmacists providing services, and then once that happens, policymakers can’t really turn away.” Melchert said he expects pharmacists to take on a larger role, particularly in regard to patients with chronic conditions. “Diabetes, cardiovascular disease, and heart failure, all of these chronic conditions, they’re not getting cured. We need to expand the scope of practice to help pharmacists better care for those patients,” he said. “That will relieve some of the burden on the health care system at large and improve outcomes.” Improving outcomes of patients with chronic conditions has captured the interest of the federal government, third party payers, and policymakers, and Melchert said increasing pharmacist intervention with these patients benefits all parties. “Outcomes are better; patient satisfaction is better; and cost in the grand scheme of the health care system will go down for everybody involved, but profitability on the pharmacy side will go up,” he said. “Not only does it make business sense, but it makes good sense in the quality of care and the continuity of care for patients and their outcomes.” Melchert said pharmacists might also take on a larger role in smoking cessation counseling and blood
pressure monitoring, which could include being able to prescribe smoking cessation aids, or modifying blood pressure medication therapies. WHAT YOU CAN DO Pharmacists’ scope of practice has grown substantially, but there’s still work to do. Melchert recommends joining your state’s pharmacy association to advocate for the expansion of your profession’s scope of practice. “They carry the torch for pharmacy and advancing the profession,” he said. “We encourage our student pharmacists and our faculty to join state pharmacy organizations that are involved in advocating for the profession.” Regardless of changes to pharmacists’ role as providers at the federal level, Melchert said states still have to expand their scope of practice, and state organizations are essential to that end. “We’ve got to have that scope of practice expanded at the state level,” he said. Melchert also urged pharmacists to start offering the services allowed under their state’s current scope of practice. “The more you do, the more you build loyalty and satisfaction with the care you’re providing,” he said. “It’ll be traction from these examples that will further build trust and relationships with the skills and the knowledge base of pharmacists.” If your pharmacy training didn’t prepare you to offer services recently added to your state’s scope of practice, Melchert said you can still learn the latest skills through continuing education (CE) sessions, or by getting involved with a pharmacy school. “We have programs available to help people get up to speed,” he said. “And, one of the best ways to learn something new is to get involved with teaching.” Melchert said increasing stakeholders’ awareness about the value of pharmacists’ care is key to expanding scopes of practice and gaining provider status. “We continue to be the best kept secret in health care,” he said. “What we need to do is to start with our communities, our state and our country, and tell the world about the value of pharmacy services.”
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On the Shelf Boost front-end sales with engaging shelf signs The signs in your pharmacy’s front end may be just as—if not more—influential to making a sale as the products on the shelf. “Signs sell products, period,” said Tom Boyer, director of national sales at Hamacher Resource Group, a leading partner in category management, business strategy and marketing services focused on consumer health care at retail. If used correctly, shelf signs can convey your pharmacy’s brand, entice patients to learn more about the products you offer, and, ultimately, encourage shoppers to make a purchase.
A SILENT SALES FORCE Signs help shoppers feel comfortable because they’re used to seeing them. “Just think about when you go to a convenience store, department store, automotive store or grocery store. They have signs galore,” Boyer said. Shelf signs encourage people to shop and make impulse purchases, specifically if items are discounted or on promotion. Shelf signs are also important educational tools for patients. Signs can enlighten them about the differences between products, and signs can even help less comfortable shoppers avoid embarrassment.
Shelf Signs 101
Understanding the different types of shelf sign options for your front end can get confusing. Here’s a breakdown of common types.
Folded shelf talkers Folded shelf talkers are similar to flat shelf signs, but they adhere to the top of the shelf and fold over. They’re also known as folding shelf signs or shelf stack cards.
Flat shelf signs Flat shelf signs sit parallel to the shelf. They’re the least dynamic sign, but they’re cost-effective and often are enough to get the job done.
Channel strips Channel strips are long, thin signs that click or slide into the channel underneath a product. These types of signs work well for a brand with many adjacent SKUs.
Aisle violators Aisle violators are positioned perpendicular to the shelf. They “violate” the space in the aisle and command attention. They’re also known as aisle invaders, aisle breakers, shelf flags and aisle interrupters.
Aisle blades Aisle blades are mounted perpendicular to the shelf like aisle violators, but are much larger and their length typically spans two or more shelves.
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Source: Hamacher Resource Group
“When it comes to products that might be more embarrassing for the shopper to approach staff about, such as incontinence products, it can be very helpful for pharmacies to have signs that talk about the differences between products, so the shopper can really learn, without having to approach the pharmacist,” said Jen Johnston, senior marketing services account manager at Hamacher. THE RIGHT SIGNS From shelf talkers to aisle violators, you have a lot of options when it comes to shelf signs. When selecting signs, consistency and maintaining a proper blend are essential. “You want to have a blend of signs versus always having just one type of sign or no signs at all,” Boyer said. “You should have four to six shelf talkers within every 4 feet of running space.” Within that 4 feet, make sure to mix up the types of signs, including “new item” signs or stickers, promotional signs, “our pharmacist recommends” signs, and store brand or private label signs. There are multiple ways you can obtain shelf signs, including from manufacturers, wholesalers or making your own. Hamacher also provides pharmacies with signs when they join its merchandising and pricing program. If you choose to make your own signs, pay attention to what you claim. “Even a retailer could possibly get in hot water if they put a health claim that isn’t backed up with the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) statement,” Johnston said.
AVOIDING MISTAKES When it comes to shelf signs, avoid common mistakes. Replace out-of-date signs, ensure your signs are placed in the proper locations and double check price points. And, be sure to make regular updates. “If you do great one month with signs, and the next couple of months customers don’t see signs, or a change in signs, what’s their perception?” Boyer said. If possible, delegate a staff member to be in charge of the front end. This can ensure your pharmacy’s shelf signs stay up-to-date. If you want to evaluate the success of your shelf signs, you can simply ask customers what they think of your signs. Or, take it a step further and use your pharmacy’s point-of-sale (POS) system. “Some stores use their POS system as a glorified cash register,” Boyer said. “A POS system can do so much more. It can generate sales reports and analytical reports, and can go as far as breaking down sales by department or promotions.” If you’re not using shelf signs, now might be the time to start. “Signs can be low-cost or no-cost, and really have a great return,” said Megan Moyer, senior marketing communications specialist at Hamacher. “Signs are noninvasive sales tools that can have a large impact.” Learn more about signage by following Hamacher Resource Group’s blog series at hamacher.com/atshelf-signs.
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Waste Not Tips for starting a medication disposal program in your pharmacy By Analisa Bregant
Your patients may be disposing of their expired, unused or unwanted prescriptions unsafely. “An estimated 250 million pounds of unused medications are improperly disposed of each year,” said Ronna Hauser, Pharm.D., vice president of pharmacy affairs at the National Community Pharmacists Association (NCPA). Adding a medication disposal receptacle in your pharmacy gives your patients a place to safely— and conveniently—dispose of their unwanted prescription medications. “Providing a safe disposal service in the local community helps to keep waterways clean, prevents accidental ingestion or overdose, and curbs prescription drug medication abuse. It’s also a great way to introduce potential new customers to one’s store,” she said. A HELPFUL RESOURCE Medication disposal receptacles today can accept both controls and non-controls, which can help curb the nation’s prescription drug abuse epidemic. “It’s really important now because the controls are causing the problem,” said David Tusa, CEO and president of Sharps Compliance Inc., which offers MedSafe®, a medication disposal box program for pharmacies. “It’s a great opportunity for the pharmacy to be able to add this service, where the consumers come into the pharmacy and deposit their unused medications into collection receptacles.” Offering a medication disposal unit in your pharmacy also provides a service to your community. “Most, if not all, participating community pharmacies [in the Dispose My Meds™ program] do not charge
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3 Reasons to Offer a Medication Disposal Box Prevent drug abuse – With an increasing national epidemic of prescription drug abuse, offering a medication disposal box in your pharmacy provides your patients with a safe and convenient option to dispose of unwanted medications. Differentiate your pharmacy – Offering a medication disposal program at your pharmacy will distinguish your business from competitors. It can get new customers through your door while increasing customer retention and sales from existing customers. Protect the environment – Unwanted medications are often improperly disposed of and can damage the environment. Offering a medication disposal bin at your pharmacy helps protect the environment by providing an option for people to dispose of their medications without flushing them or throwing them away, which can contaminate the water supply.
customers to dispose of medications at their stores, and many pharmacy owners offer the program as a community service to both patients and non-patients alike,” Hauser said. “Many of the chain drug stores that provide disposal services, such as mail-back envelopes, charge patients for them.” THE BUSINESS OF DISPOSAL Offering a medication disposal program in your pharmacy isn’t just good for the environment and your community—it can benefit your business, too. “Independent pharmacies are all about developing
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personal relationships. It’s an additional service that they provide to their customers, which is hopefully going to build a stronger relationship,” Tusa said. “For a relatively low cost, pharmacies can provide a much-needed service to their customers,” he said. “And, if those customers are in the store, hopefully they’re going to buy more things once they’re looking around. So, that could help defer some of the cost pharmacies are paying for that receptacle.” Medication disposal programs also help attract new patients and retain current customers by serving as a marketing tool. “Pharmacies are committed to making their community a healthier place, and a disposal box is an easy and affordable way to fulfill that commitment while adding value to their pharmacy,” said Mike Pietrini, president and CEO of American Security Cabinets, which offers medication disposal boxes in varying sizes for pharmacies. A medication disposal unit can also differentiate your pharmacy. “Independent pharmacists are always looking for ways to differentiate themselves from the big boys,” Tusa said. “It’s a great service they can provide to their customers.” PROMOTING THE PROGRAM If you place a medication disposal unit in your pharmacy, don’t forget to spread the word about it. “It’s important to make use of a variety of marketing initiatives with varying focuses,” Pietrini said. He suggests using print advertising, email, website marketing and social media, so you can appeal to a spectrum of patients, from millennials to middle-aged patients to elderly patients. Another option is tying the disposal box to your loyalty program, where you give out bonus points to patients who make use of the disposal box.
Disposal Box Options Your pharmacy has a variety of options to choose from when looking for a medication disposal box program for your pharmacy. Here are the details on three options. AMERICAN SECURITY CABINETS American Security Cabinets manufactures prescription drug collection boxes and offers 6-gallon, 17-gallon, 33-gallon and 68-gallon medication disposal units for pharmacies. The units accept controlled medications (Schedule II-V), non-controlled medications and overthe-counter (OTC) products. All units come in stainless steel, but can be customized in the color of your choice. Besides purchasing the unit upfront, available programs include a leasing program, an event kiosk program for pharmacies with space limitations, a tradein program for pharmacies that need to upgrade to a larger receptacle, and a try-and-buy program, which allows pharmacies to try a medication disposal unit for a low monthly fee during a trial period. American Security Cabinets partners with multiple DEA-registered reverse distributors, and pharmacies can choose which reverse distributor they want to work with to handle destroying the product once a bin’s liner is full. Cost: Starts at $37 a month. “The cost to run the program will be determined by the frequency in which the box needs to be emptied. This varies substantially based on factors such as community involvement, population size, and the size of the box chosen,” said Mike Pietrini, president and CEO of American Security Cabinets. Learn more at rxdrugdrops.com. MEDSAFE® MedSafe®, a medication disposal program from Sharps Compliance Inc., offers 18-gallon and 38-gallon
medication disposal receptacles for pharmacies. The units accept controlled medications (Schedule II-V), noncontrolled medications and OTC products. The receptacles come with an inner-liner, which the pharmacy mails back to the company. The waste is later disposed of through a DEA-approved incineration process. MedSafe also offers a take-home envelope option that pharmacies can sell or provide to patients who would rather mail-in their unused or unwanted noncontrol medications. Cost: Pharmacies on the leasing program can expect to pay $100-$150 per month for a MedSafe disposal unit, which includes the recurring cost for the receptacle liners. Learn more at sharpsinc.com/medsafe. DISPOSE MY MEDS™ For members of the National Community Pharmacists Association (NCPA), the Dispose My Meds™ program, which is managed by the NCPA Foundation, provides an affordable option for pharmacies to dispose of unwanted, unused or expired prescription medications for their patients. “NCPA members receive a discount on Sharp’s TakeAway Environmental Return System™ containers (for the disposal of non-controlled substances only) or pre-paid postage envelopes. The MedSafe® is also available for purchase at a discounted rate for the disposal of controlled substances,” said Ronna Hauser, Pharm.D., vice president of pharmacy affairs at NCPA. Cost: Prices of the units vary depending on size, but “a 10-gallon TakeAway container is only $75 at the discounted NCPA member price. All prices include shipping, tracking, packaging and witnessed destruction at the Sharp’s incineration facility,” she said. Learn more at ncpanet.org/disposemymeds.
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Fixing Your Fixtures
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Tips for selecting pharmacy shelving and fixtures that won’t leave money on the shelf
By Kathleen Barbosa
Your pharmacy’s fixtures support your front-end sales, organize your back-end workflow and influence how patients perceive the level of service and care you provide at your pharmacy. Despite all the work your pharmacy’s shelving and fixtures do to support the success of your business, you likely spend little-to-no time thinking about them. And that’s a common issue. “Most of the independents I see, they never change. They don’t like to change their shelving,” said Jim Deller, a health care storage specialist at Southwest Solutions Group, Inc., a distributor and supplier of innovative shelving systems to all types of businesses, including pharmacies. Is it time to update, rearrange or completely reimagine your independent community pharmacy’s fixtures? TIME TO UPDATE If your pharmacy’s front-end fixtures haven’t been updated recently, there are a few signs that it’s time for an upgrade. “Look for signs of bending, rust, sharp edges and worn shelves that are no longer functional to display merchandise,” said Dave Wendland, vice president, strategic relations and member of the owners group at Hamacher Resource Group, a leading partner in category management, business strategy and marketing services focused on consumer health care at retail. Old, broken, or warped fixtures reflect poorly on your pharmacy. “We’ve all been in stores where the shelving is disheveled,” Wendland said. Patients may associate your pharmacy’s appearance with its level of care. “If you care for your belongings and you care for your appearance, then chances are
you’re going to take better care of a patient,” he said. As you choose fixtures and shelving, it’s important to keep in mind that not all parts of a fixture will wear evenly. “The shelves themselves will likely wear and require replacement faster than the base or even the back of the fixture,” Wendland said. Strategically planning your pharmacy’s major fixture updates has financial benefits. Roland Thomas, a pharmacy planning consultant at Pharmacy Planning Solutions, a company that helps pharmacies design layouts to maximize space, suggests conducting major fixture updates every eight to 10 years, so you can take advantage of the Internal Revenue Service’s (IRS) depreciation schedule. “It takes a very small percentage increase in business to offset the cost,” he said. Proper timing can help offset the costs of this major investment, and conducting regular upkeep will help fixtures last longer. “It should be a constant endeavor,” Thomas said. “Updating includes many things, like keeping the pharmacy neat and clean, painting, replacing the floor covering and maintaining proper lighting.” One of the most important factors in determining if your pharmacy needs new fixtures is your store’s layout and design. “Keeping the pharmacy layout and design up-to-date should be analyzed constantly and if it has been over 10 years, a total makeover is inevitable,” Thomas said. A MAJOR INVESTMENT Replacing or updating your pharmacy’s fixtures is a large investment. “Purchasing new store fixtures from the factory is a one-time, long-term investment for your pharmacy,” said
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What’s Trending? A look at the latest trends in pharmacy fixtures and shelving. GROWING BEHIND-THE-COUNTER NEEDS An increasing number of products designated as over-the-counter (OTC) might soon be required to be stored behind the counter, said Dave Wendland, vice president, strategic relations and member of the owners group at Hamacher Resource Group, a leading partner in category management, business strategy and marketing services focused on consumer health care at retail. “In future terms, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) may require additional products to be placed behind that counter,” Wendland said. Being able to display these products that require a pharmacist interaction is a key trend to consider when selecting backend shelving. “I think that it’s going to be a growing area of need in the pharmacy side of the business,” he said. INNOVATING LIGHTING “There’s some really dramatic things taking place right now with lighting in and around shelving,” Wendland said. Keep that in mind, and arrange
Steven DiOrio, marketing manager at Handy Store Fixtures, Inc., a company that specializes in manufacturing and shipping factory direct retail store fixtures. Wendland estimates that for a typical pharmacy with about 3,500 square feet, new front-end fixtures can run between $20,000 to $40,000 or more. To make sure you get a good return on your investment, Wendland said you should keep the purpose of the investment in mind as you make fixture decisions. “There are two primary purposes of pharmacy shelving and the investment you make answers to both,” Wendland said. “The primary purpose of a fixture or shelving is that it can house product and
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your front-end fixtures to allow wiring for lighting, in case you want to add it in the future. “In order to enhance certain merchandise, such as beauty products, many pharmacies have started to incorporate LED lights underneath the gondola shelves,” said Steven DiOrio, marketing manager at Handy Store Fixtures, Inc., a company that specializes in manufacturing and shipping factory direct retail store fixtures. CHOOSING THE RIGHT COLOR When selecting fixture colors, classic neutral colors remain popular. “Neutral color shelving makes the space appear larger, reduces shadows and shows off colorful merchandise much better,” said Roland Thomas, a pharmacy planning consultant at Pharmacy Planning Solutions, a company that helps pharmacies design layouts to maximize space. “Since most independent pharmacies are smaller today, neutral colors in most areas are preferable.” DiOrio said that because pharmacies are health care practices, fixtures in pharmacies are expected to reflect a sterile environment, and pharmacies should consider using a paper white color. “Bright white shelves are very easy to clean and always look brand new when taken care of,” he said.
allows consumers to select those products themselves. The second big thing is that it forms an impression,” he said. “What is shelving saying about your store?” KEY FIXTURE FEATURES When selecting front-end shelving for your pharmacy, there are several key factors to consider, and, according to Wendland, these include functionality, flexibility and form. Functionality is key. “If it doesn’t have functionality, you’re not going to meet your goal of what that shelving is designed to do, which is to put merchandise in front of shoppers,” he said.
Stylish fixtures, such as those made of glass and wood, and heavily slanted or deep shelves, may attract shoppers’ attention initially. However, Thomas warns they’re difficult to adapt and poorly suited to pharmacies’ front ends, where it’s essential to have fixtures that are conducive to effective merchandising. “Overuse of angles, curved fixtures and counters may be appealing, but they’re very expensive, more difficult to merchandise, confuse customers and waste valuable space without making any contribution,” he said. And, making the most out of the space you have is only becoming more important as the cost for space increases, he said. Flexibility also matters. “You want to make sure that the fixtures meet not just your needs for today, but your anticipated needs down the road,” Wendland said. Common mistakes that create inflexibility include laying carpeting after installing fixtures, selecting custom-built cabinets with shelves that can’t be moved for different-sized products, or using a design that doesn’t allow you to incorporate new features in the future, such as innovative lighting techniques. All of these create rigid, inflexible shelving. “That’s a mistake that should be avoided at all costs,” Wendland said. “The ability to move those shelves around is really important.” Deller said it can be tempting to choose less flexible fixtures that are also less expensive, such as casework cabinets for your back end, also known as built-in cabinets. But, in the long run, their inability to change can cost you. “It’s cheaper, but the disadvantages are if you want to make a change, you have to get a construction permit, and you have to hire a contractor or carpenter to rip it out,” he said. “I would strongly suggest staying away from casework and choosing something that would serve into the future, and maybe spend a little more.” Finally, you need to consider the form, or the specific physical features of the fixture or shelving, from the customer’s point-of-view. “Quite often, the customer’s anticipated reaction is ignored,” Thomas said. The fixture has to be simple and safe for the customer to use, Wendland said. For example, locked cases don’t provide customers with good interactions, and sharp edges or difficult-to-reach shelves create potential hazards. Also, cluttered or narrow aisles can make it difficult to shop and navigate. “Create a store design layout that will guide customers easily throughout your entire pharmacy,” DiOrio said. “From the placement of the checkout
counter, to the location of the prescription department, and everything in-between, the goal of every pharmacist is to create a store atmosphere that makes customers comfortable.” FRONT END VS. BACK END Your pharmacy’s front end and back end serve different purposes, and they require different kinds of fixtures. It’s essential to choose the right shelving solutions for each area of your pharmacy. “In the back area of the pharmacy, in the prescription area, it’s all about efficiency, productivity and workflow,” Wendland said. Deller said the back end should include a combination of high-density shelving to maximize your space, bulk rack storage for larger items, and open or slanted shelving for visibility, which Deller said is crucial to helping your staff efficiently navigate your back end. “Being able to see your inventory levels is key,” he said. Front-end shelving is more about the fixture’s ability to merchandise and the ease of moving products. “Ideally, we want the customer to view as much merchandise as possible without forcing them,” Thomas said. Front-end shelving should promote the shopping experience, Wendland said. “It’s about creating an environment that encourages consumers and patients to shop the aisles, not just clear a pathway to the prescription counter,” he said. It’s also important to plan for your front-end needs. DiOrio said your front-end fixtures and layout should be designed to work well with planograms that can help boost front-end sales. “Planograms take into account the shelf size, gondola height, and shelf count on each section,” DiOrio said. “If your planogram is displaying oral products, you might need a 12- or 14-inch shelf, based on the size of the product. Cleaning supplies, including detergent and other similar merchandise, calls for 14or 16-inch shelves.” Adjustability is important, too. Being able to adjust your shelves ensures that you can properly display items, which will encourage front-end sales. And, Wendland noted that some patients won’t purchase products if they’re displayed in an unflattering manner. “Imagine a foot care category where you wouldn’t be able to hang insoles and other foot accessories in a peg section,” he said. “If you laid them down on a shelf where they wouldn’t be easily seen, would a consumer really want to shop that category?”
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NEW VS. USED When choosing between purchasing new or used fixtures, there’s more to consider than the initial cost. Wendland recommends that pharmacies consider purchasing used fixtures. “Look at the secondary market,” he said. “Pharmacists might be able to find slightly used or gently used fixtures and shelving that are fit for their purpose.” However, DiOrio warned that purchasing cheap or used shelving can create more problems than it solves. “The biggest problem with purchasing cheap or used store fixtures for a pharmacy is the overall atmosphere your pharmacy will portray to your customers,” DiOrio said. “If you purchase used shelving, there’s a good chance you won’t be purchasing the exact sizes needed for your location,” he said. “Buying used shelving is a cheaper alternative in the short term, but the shelves will usually be ruined within a few years.” PROFESSIONAL PERKS When it’s time to upgrade your pharmacy’s fixtures, consider seeking outside professional help. Wendland said consultants bring a fresh perspective, and they offer experience and objectivity. “We all work too close to the forest to see the trees, and pharmacists are no exception,” he said. “Pharmacists are always looking at the store from the prescription counter out, rather than from the front door in.” Wendland said Hamacher’s 360° Store Assessments program can help pharmacists see their fixtures from a new point-of-view, and it provides ways to increase the functionality and utility of their current equipment. “The overall goal of a 360° Assessment centers on the customer experience,” he said. “Our goal is to increase the merchandise-ability and the usefulness of existing fixtures.” Adjustments can include rearranging fixtures, changing the front-end configuration, eliminating common line-of-sight errors and resizing departments. Thomas said Pharmacy Planning Solutions’ years of experience helps pharmacies create the best possible layout and experience for patients. “I have worked with hundreds of pharmacies of all types and sizes,” he said. “We take what we have learned and pass it on to others.” Experts, like those at Pharmacy Planning Solutions, can also help pharmacy owners understand how fixtures and layout changes affect their patients. “I have a much better understanding about how most customers react to all aspects,” he said.
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“Creating the best layout and design is considering several factors at the same time, all of which should work together like a well-oiled machine.” Professional expertise can also help you fill in knowledge gaps. “We completely understand not understanding everything there is to know about shelving and retail store design,” DiOrio said. “Even something like taking very simple measurements of floor space can be a challenge.” Each pharmacy’s specific features, including columns, windows, plumbing and electrical outlets, can be challenging when creating a layout, but professionals can help. Professionals can also ensure that your design meets all local and federal regulations, such as the requirements of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), which requires aisles to be 36 inches wide, Deller said. “Shelving providers will work hand-in-hand with the retailer to come up with the best possible layout based on all those factors,” DiOrio said. Pharmacies can select fixtures on their own from retailers, such as Lowe’s or Home Depot, but those fixtures might not be the best option for your business. “You get what you pay for,” Deller said. “When you go through a cheaper outlet, you may not be working with someone who understands pharmacy.” Wendland cautioned against working with someone who isn’t familiar with the industry. “A typical cabinet manufacturer doesn’t understand the nuances of the retail environment, durability, flexibility or even characteristics that go with the weight and movability of these fixtures,” he said. Working with a pharmacy professional can help you translate your business’s specific needs into a layout, floor plan and fixtures that work well together, and meet your needs and your budget, Deller said. “We can come in for a free estimate and we work with space planners and architects,” he said. “We understand pharmacy storage. We can help design the storage solution for them.” “Working with a designer or architect who knows pharmacy layout, that’s important,” Deller said. “They need to understand the flow of how they want their pharmacy to work.” Going it alone may be cheaper but may not work well in the long run. “Spend money to get something that provides a solution,” Deller said. “The biggest thing is making sure that you’re selecting something that’s right for you.”
Shelving Terminology When it comes to shelving options, you have a lot to choose from. Here’s a look at some common pharmacy shelving terms to help you sort through the clutter.
Casework refers to built-in cabinets. These are usually found in the back of the pharmacy. Moveable casework is a popular alternative to traditional casework today because it’s designed to be customized, modified, relocated and reused, while maintaining the look of built-in cabinets.
Gondola shelving is a retail display unit with two sides that’s designed for merchandising the center portion of your pharmacy.
DOUBLE SLOTTED UPRIGHTS
This type of retail shelving is mounted onto a wall to transform the wall into a shelving unit. It accepts shelves and shelf brackets.
Pegboard is a standard backing unit for many retail shelves. You can display items using standard pegboard hooks, baskets or pegboard scanner hooks, which come with a clear plastic label holder. Pegboards are great for showcasing items that don’t work well placed on a shelf, such as footwear insoles, toothbrushes and compression hose.
End caps are one-sided retail displays, usually placed on the end of a gondola or aisle. They’re used to highlight merchandise.
RX BAY UNITS
These are a typical back-of-store shelving unit used to house pharmaceuticals. They often have a solid back panel and are made of metal.
These self-supporting retail displays include a variety of types and sizes. A common one for pharmacies is a four-sided freestanding display. These displays are easily moveable, so you can switch them out and move them around to make sure your best-selling items are the most prominent.
Slatwall panels transform walls into retail displays. They’re composed of slots that are compatible with baskets, hooks, sign holders and shelf brackets to display products in a variety of shapes and sizes. Sources: Handy Store Fixtures, Discount Shelving & Displays, Southwest Solutions Group
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Automating Dispensing Boost adherence, improve dispensing accuracy and grow your business with SynMed® Investing in automation may seem like a big undertaking, but it’s an investment that can pay off. SynMed® from Synergy Medical, an automated medication dispensing system for both single-dose and multi-dose blister cards, offers independent pharmacies labor savings right away, including reducing technician time by a factor of five and cutting pharmacist verification time in half for pharmacies manually filling single-dose and multi-dose packaging. “SynMed allows our users to play offense and defense,” said Rob Anderson, director of sales western, USA at Synergy Medical. “They play defense in terms of cutting costs to dispense their medications more efficiently and accurately. On offense, they can safely grow their business without adding labor costs.” EFFICIENCY, ACCURACY AND SPEED SynMed can improve the efficiency, accuracy and speed of dispensing. The machine, which holds more than 400 drugs that cover 98 percent of medications dispensed in blister packs, integrates with your pharmacy’s computer system to manage all operations from prescription reception to preparing the blister cards. It selects, counts and places medications in the blisters at a continuous rate of 55 doses per minute. SynMed is meant for any patient who needs help managing multiple medications, and especially those in home health, assisted living, retirement communities, nursing homes, group homes, hospice and long term care.
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SynMed also offers the flexibility of using the packaging of your choice. “Right now, we work with 32 different card types,” Anderson said. “A lot of times pharmacies don’t want to automate because they don’t want to change their packaging type. With SynMed, you don’t have to.” The machine also provides more accurate and precise dispensing, eliminating the risk of human error. Upkeep of the machine requires minimal effort from the pharmacy. A pharmacy technician simply needs to replenish containers. Synergy Medical provides pharmacies with up to four visits per year to perform preventative maintenance. THE QUESTION OF COST The SynMed system requires an initial investment, but can save pharmacies labor costs in the long run.
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Fears of Automation—Answered Fear of change – Although any change comes with some challenges, don’t let fear of change make your business fall behind. Investing in automation can enable you to dispense more accurately and efficiently. Fear of job loss – Pharmacy employees may worry that automation will replace them, but you can reallocate those employees to handle more value-added tasks while the robot handles dispensing. “That person was hired not because they can count fast, but because they’re an asset to the business,” said Rob Anderson, director of sales western USA at Synergy Medical. Fear of expense – The cost to purchase a machine may present an initial price tag, but don’t overlook the return on investment. You can save on labor costs and allocate those employees who previously dispensed prescriptions to complete other valueadded tasks.
“SynMed is a way to reduce costs, achieve a high level of dispensing accuracy, and it’s a safe way to grow your business,” Anderson said. And, you can now devote time spent dispensing to patient care and customer service. “Pharmacists are going to see their roles increase in the day-to-day operations of the business,” Anderson said. “Whether it’s Medication Therapy Management (MTM), immunizations, travel medicine or working with care providers, there are a lot of opportunities that pharmacies can now start taking advantage of to help drive revenue. Meanwhile, SynMed can package and organize their prescriptions in the background.”
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A SynMed system fixes labor costs, so you can be more profitable, Anderson said. “In addition, there is a tax incentive this year called the Section 179 Tax Incentive that may allow a pharmacy to write off the full cost of the system in 2016,” he said. When you’re filling 200 blister packs a week, that’s the volume when you want to consider automation, Anderson said. “At that point, you’re starting to pull in multiple technicians to fill your blister cards and using more resources. The SynMed system allows you to have one technician producing over 1,000 cards a week,” he said. AUTOMATION AND ADHERENCE An aging population is growing the demand for medication adherence, and automation can help pharmacies keep up. “SynMed is both a medication synchronization and medication adherence strategy for pharmacies to drive Star Ratings and attract new patients,” Anderson said. “SynMed automation will help position any pharmacy to navigate these future demands and opportunities successfully.” The SynMed system produces a unique compliance label on the blister card with the patient’s picture and drug images, which enables your pharmacy to provide a personalized way for patients to take their medications, and improve their adherence. “It’s a way to make sure your patients are taking their meds, so you’re managing that and making it easier for them to be compliant,” he said. “And this improves your Star Ratings.” Synergy Medical has installed more than 230 medication dispensing systems worldwide. Learn more at synmedrx.com/en.
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Pay-forPerformance MedHere Today™ helps pharmacies strategically improve patients’ outcomes to get paid for high quality performance Patients’ outcomes are tied to more than just their health. Increasingly, key metrics are being used to determine how much your pharmacy gets paid. Improving your patients’ outcomes and your pharmacy’s metrics is essential to healthy patients and a healthy bottom line. But, it also raises some complicated questions. Which metrics should your pharmacy focus on improving? What intervention will improve those metrics? Which patients would benefit from those interventions? And, how will you demonstrate your pharmacy’s value, so you can get paid for your performance? You don’t have to answer those questions alone. MedHere Today™, a pharmacy quality and performance consulting group, can help your independent community pharmacy implement, grow and leverage adherence and quality initiatives to improve patients’ outcomes, get paid for your performance, and demonstrate your value to key health care partners.
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GETTING STARTED MedHere Today began as an adherence-monitoring program at L&S Pharmacy, an independent community pharmacy located in Charleston, Mo. After recognizing a need to expand beyond adherence, the owners transformed the program into a consulting company focused on driving quality in independent community pharmacies. “We began with what we knew—adherence programs,” said Tripp Logan, Pharm.D., senior quality consultant at MedHere Today. “But the more we got involved with measure development at the Pharmacy Quality Alliance (PQA), talking to health systems and health plans, and working with state and national pharmacy organizations, the more we realized there’s more to it than adherence.” He and his father, Richard Logan, Pharm.D., recognized a need to build high quality, high value pharmacies and pharmacy networks to support health
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American Greetings and the Federation of Pharmacy Networks deliver more to brighten your store A trusted name in social expressions, American Greetings has a deep understanding of today’s greeting card consumers. As they strive to nurture relationships, we deliver fresh, on-trend products they’ll appreciate. That’s why we’re a perfect fit for an independent retailer like you, who is already in their community and part of their lives. By partnering with us, you can create a greeting card destination that offers quality, innovation, selection and an attractive profit margin.
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care system partners, which are held accountable for measurably improving patients’ outcomes. Logan said MedHere Today helps pharmacies understand the health care system and its metrics, so pharmacies can improve patients’ outcomes with strategic interventions, lower overall health care costs and enhance their profitability. THE NEED TO PERFORM Demonstrating your pharmacy’s value is essential in today’s marketplace, where there are more ways to measure performance than ever before. Logan said pay-for-performance programs, comprehensive medication reviews (CMRs), and Medication Therapy Management (MTM) completion rates are only the beginning. “These programs are typically just stepping stones for other things,” he said. Performance metrics are being used to categorize network pharmacy partners, and Logan said that scoring poorly could affect your business. “Right or wrong, pharmacies are being held accountable for these prescription claims that drive adherence numbers,” he said. To improve those scores, Logan advises pharmacies to focus on targeting patients who register on health plans’ radar. By strategically improving key patients’ outcomes, Logan said pharmacies can improve their overall metrics. “It’s so important for pharmacies to not only do well in pay-for-performance programs, but most of all, to understand who is measuring, what is being measured, and how to target patients that can positively impact those that are measuring,” he said. HOW IT WORKS Improving patients’ outcomes begins with selecting a metric to focus on. Logan said MedHere Today starts by educating pharmacy owners, pharmacists, and non-pharmacist staff members about the metric they’re measuring, and the best practices and technology available to track that metric. “Once we determine which metric to impact, we begin our initiative strategically focused on moving the needle on that measure,” Logan said. “We use this process whether it’s adherence monitoring, MTM, or helping create a pay-for-performance program.” Next, MedHere Today helps pharmacies identify and engage patients whose individual outcomes could help improve the pharmacy’s overall performance on the
selected measure. With help from MedHere Today’s data analytics, pharmacy reporting and regular consulting and communication, pharmacies develop strategies to incentivize and monitor these patients’ adherence metrics. “MedHere Today helps pharmacies be perceived as the best possible partners for the health plans,” Logan said. Once the process is in place, Logan said MedHere Today consultants help pharmacies repeat, revise and grow their adherence monitoring and care coordination programs. “This process is slow in the beginning,” he said. “But when it’s successful, it blossoms into a streamlined revenue builder for the pharmacy and creates a building block for other value-based opportunities.”
Seeing Results MedHere Today™, a pharmacy quality and performance consulting group, doesn’t believe improving pharmacy quality is a one-size-fits-all approach. “Our MedHere Today team’s customized approach has resulted in many measurable, and non-measurable, but equally important, benefits for our independent community pharmacy clients,” said Tripp Logan, Pharm.D., senior quality consultant at MedHere Today. Highlights of these results include: • • • • •
Twenty-nine extra prescriptions per monitored patient per year Increases in generic utilization, without decreases in brand use Increases in adherence scores on the EQuIPP dashboard Decreases in high-risk medication scores on the EQuIPP dashboard Statistically significant increases in Comprehensive Medication Review (CMR) completion rates
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Pioneering Vintage Care Ritzman Pharmacy translated oldschool values into the 21st century to create a pharmacy of the future When Ritzman Pharmacy decided to create a pharmacy of the future, the pharmacy’s team had a bold vision in mind. “We want to redefine the experience that people have with their community pharmacy and their pharmacist,” said George Glatcz, COO of Ritzman Pharmacy, an independent community pharmacy chain with 23 locations in northeast Ohio. “Independent community pharmacy has become extremely commoditized,” which, Glatcz said, is an unsustainable model for independent pharmacies. “We did a lot of research with customers and found that if we don’t change, we won’t likely survive in the next five to 10 years.” “So, we asked ourselves, ‘How do we differentiate ourselves in the marketplace? What do we do differently?’” he said. “We came up with a strategy that we call pioneering vintage care.” “It’s very similar to what it was like to practice community pharmacy 25 or 30 years ago,” he said. “We wanted to bring that mentality into the 21st century.” Glatcz explained that the idea was to restore the pharmacist as a pillar of the community and place him or her at the center of a patient’s care, but to update the model to address modern challenges and adopt the latest technology. Ritzman Pharmacy partnered with Northeast Ohio Medical University (NEOMED) to implement its strategy to create a pharmacy of the future. MOVING AWAY FROM COMMODITIZATION Glatcz said the decision to reinvent their approach to pharmacy was spurred by the commoditization of independent community pharmacy. “Over the last 10 years, it’s gotten so
commoditized and so competitive, we had to redefine ourselves,” he said. “With commoditization, pharmacists spend all their time in the production of the prescription.” The pharmacy of the future aims to change that by getting pharmacists out from behind the counter. “We have our pharmacist out front spending more time with our customers, with our patients, and actually getting out into the community,” Glatcz said. “We designed the pharmacy so that can happen.” REINVENTING THE EXPERIENCE Glatcz said another goal of the redesign was to create an expectation for what patients will experience when they visit a pharmacy. “What we learned from our research is that customers don’t have an expectation for an experience,” he said. The experience begins the moment a patient walks through the doors of the pharmacy. “At our NEOMED pharmacy of the future, you don’t even know there’s a pharmacy there,” he said. “You don’t see the drugs at all.” Glatcz said the drug bays are located behind closed doors, so patients can’t see them. Instead, when patients walk in, a pharmacist greets them. “There’s a pharmacist in front of the practice,” he said. “Our pharmacists usually spend all their time interacting with customers, and very little
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of their time in the production of the pharmacy.” Language is also an important component of moving away from commoditization, and creating a quality pharmacy experience. “We don’t call our pharmacies ‘stores,’” Glatcz said. “We call them ‘practices’ for a reason. We’re creating an environment where health care practice is going to happen.” In that health care practice, Glatcz said they focus on treating the patient, not on selling commodities. “It’s not a monetized production zone where you can buy tissue and toilet paper,” he said. “It’s a health care environment where people will be treated as a whole person.” ECOSYSTEMS, PROGRAMS AND PARTNERSHIPS The pharmacy of the future aims to provide patients with a well-rounded approach to health care through internal and external health care ecosystems, Glatcz said. “We’re looking to create that ecosystem where people can come and get complete care,” he said. This begins inside the pharmacy, which is separated into three programs: Ritzman Revives, Ritzman Restores and Ritzman Remedies. Ritzman Revives is an area focused on giving patients
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more energy. “We took a survey of all our customers and the number one complaint they had, whether they were taking a prescription or not, was they all want more energy,” he said. “So, we created that section, and it’s actually taking off and we’re seeing great results from that already.” Ritzman Restores is focused on the renewal of mind, body and spirit. “It takes the whole person into account,” he said. The section offers essential oils, products made by local artisans and other items that give people a good sense of wellbeing. Ritzman Remedies features standard front-end items. “We have your typical over-the-counter (OTC) products, but it’s smaller compared to what you would see in a typical pharmacy and it’s really designed to look at things from a different perspective,” Glatcz said. Providing patients with well-rounded care starts with the pharmacy, but Glatcz said it extends beyond the practice’s walls. “When you walk into one of our pharmacies, it’s got its own ecosystems, but outside of that, we’re also connected to a health care ecosystem,” he said. The external ecosystem consists of a variety of partnerships designed to offer patients a well-rounded wellness experience.
HCC is a national pharmacy consulting firm in addition to a well-known staffing and placement agency. Our experienced consultants and network of specialists are available to provide expert guidance in all aspects of the pharmacy industry. We work with businesses of all sizes from the corner drug store to national corporations and healthcare organizations. Services available include:
New pharmacy startup or pharmacy expansion guidance New service line integration including compounding, specialty, and long term care Adherence review to USP chapters 795, 797, 71, 1163, new chapter 800 requirements for sterile and non-sterile compounding Regulatory compliance audits, gap analysis, and corrective action planning Payer audit preparation and recoupment exposure assessments PCAB, VIPPS, URAC, and other accreditation preparation and guidance. Strategic pharmacy business planning Pharmacy Buy/Sell planning and support
Whatever your situation calls for, we have the knowledge and experience to address your needs quickly and effectively. Since 1989 it has been our job to provide meaningful assistance and guidance to our clients to improve their pharmacy business. If your company, pharmacy, or institution possesses the need for experienced pharmacy management, expert pharmacy consultants, project managers, and insightful business advisors, you need HCC.
Promises to Patients Ritzman Pharmacy currently has two locations renovated and operating under its pharmacy of the future model, but all of its locations strive to uphold four promises to patients, according to George Glatcz, COO of Ritzman Pharmacy, an independent community pharmacy chain with 23 locations in northeast Ohio. A place for care beyond the prescription “We want our pharmacies to be a place where you get care beyond prescriptions,” he said. A place where everyone is treated as an individual “Everyone needs to be treated as an individual,” he said. “It’s critical that we know everyone who walks into our pharmacy, and what their health and wellness needs are.” A place to learn “We want to be a place to learn,” he said. Along with health and wellness programs, Glatcz said the pharmacy of the future offers a technology bar where people can learn about new technology, such as the latest health care apps. “If you want to play around with health care applications and learn about digital technology in health care, you should come to one of our pharmacies.” A place to gather “We want to be a place for people to gather,” he said. “Forty years ago, when they had soda fountains, people used to come and gather at pharmacies because it was a community environment. We’re using that technology bar instead of a soda fountain as a place for people to gather and learn.”
Partnerships within NEOMED include close proximity to a physical therapy practice and a heath and wellness facility, so pharmacists can actively engage and screen patients before they begin rehabilitation or work with a physical trainer, Glatcz said. The pharmacy of the future also partners with a patient-centered medical home, and is connected to a primary care office. “Our pharmacy at NEOMED is sort of a selfcontained ecosystem of primary and preventive care, both pre- and post-admission,” he said. FUTURE OUTLOOK Glatcz said they plan to continue to work to redefine the practice of independent community pharmacy in the future. “How do we take the concept of the pharmacy of the future and take it one step further?” he said. Some of the possibilities include expanding into telepharmacy to bring pharmacy into areas that can’t sustain a brick-and-mortar location, and possibly transitioning to an appointment-based model, resembling what other health care professionals use. Ritzman Pharmacy is also preparing to launch a wellness program to complement its Ritzman Revives energy program, which will include providing patients with a unique biometric analysis that will be reviewed with their pharmacist. The pharmacist will also walk patients through their results, identify areas for concern, make supplement or vitamin recommendations or refer them back to their physician, if necessary. “Then, they come back after six months and they get a re-test to see if they’ve improved,” he said. Through the program, patients would also receive a small gift bag that includes a hydration tool, an activity tracker and other fitness tools to help patients meet their goals. These innovations are all part of highlighting the knowledge and skills of the pharmacist. “We want to redefine a pharmacist,” Glatcz said. “They’re not just somebody behind a counter who is counting pills every day.”
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Vitamin Trends Vitamins are in-demand. Is your pharmacy keeping up with the latest trends? Vitamins are likely on your pharmacy’s front-end shelves, but are you paying attention to the trends that make those vitamins sell? Patients today are doing their own research into vitamins, and are increasingly developing an interest in living healthier lifestyles, which makes vitamins prime products to drive front-end sales. “It’s important for all independent owners to realize that to have something just for show is of no value,” said Gary Pigott, COO at Mason Vitamins, a vitamin supplier. “Rotate trending products on a continual basis, know the current trends and pay attention to what’s popular.” Pigott shares his advice on current vitamin trends, promotions and unique programs your pharmacy can develop to grow vitamin sales.
so the vitamin selection in your front end needs to stand out to patients. “Try not to chase the Walmarts of the world,” Pigott said. “Don’t think that because they have it, you have to have it. Make your pharmacy unique from your competitors.” You can do that by paying attention to what consumers are looking for right now. For example, turmeric, which can help with inflammation, joint pain, and organ rejuvenation and protection, is popular right now. An interest in women’s beauty, such as vitamins for hair and nail health, is also leading to an increase in vitamin B-12 and biotin sales, Pigott said. “It’s important to have a mix of different, trending things to improve your audience’s interest,” he said.
CHOOSING THE RIGHT ASSORTMENT Your pharmacy’s front end is competing against big box stores, national chain pharmacies and retailer websites,
PROMOTION IS PIVOTAL Consumers today are learning what’s popular before they buy. “People are starting to dive deeper into their own personal research,” Pigott said. “Access to the Internet is just one example. The days of walking into a pharmacy, picking up a prescription and just leaving are in the past. In most cases, the patient will ask if there’s something they should be taking with their medication. They know more about the value of supplements.” Build on this interest in vitamins with marketing and educational materials promoting your vitamin selection. Your vitamin supplier likely offers monthly promotions that you can take advantage of to turn over product. “Differentiating your pharmacy is crucial; it’s all about marketing,” Pigott said. “Successful independents are doing things differently,” he said. “A program, such as a free kids vitamin program, is something that a chain store would never be able to correctly execute.” “The outreach to the community has to be better than just signage or a regular promotion,” he said.
The Gummy Question Gummy vitamins are popular right now, according to Gary Pigott, COO at Mason Vitamins, a vitamin supplier. But he recommends independent community pharmacies consider some of the downsides before stocking these products, including: • • •
High levels of sugar and gelatin. Expiration dates. “Most of these gelatinbased products only have 18 months expiration,” he said. Storage. “If stored at room temperature, they will clump together,” he said.
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