Redesigning Workflow How one pharmacist streamlined the entire filling process
Looking Out for Pharmacy Douglas Hoey, CEO of NCPA, talks about independent pharmacy today
Specializing in HIV Gateway Apothecary in St. Louis, Mo., has created a formula that works for HIV specialty pharmacy
VOL. 3 ISS. 3 | SEPT 2014 | PBAHEALTH.COM
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The business magazine for independent pharmacy
STAFF & CONTACTS Matthew Shamet - Publisher and Editorial Director Kirsten Hudson - Editor Kim Van Becelaere – Contributing Writer Kellie Paxton – Graphic Designer Aaron Newell – Contributing Photographer Molly Norburg – Editorial Intern Interested in advertising? firstname.lastname@example.org
Contents Departments 23 SPOTLIGHT:
American Pharmacists Month is Coming Up Celebrate with these eight ideas to raise awareness. 6 TRENDS:
Sound Advice Get all the benefits of music in your pharmacy, minus the legal pitfalls. 8 RETAIL:
Clever Communicators Three ways to tell customers more, while saying less. 11 SOLUTIONS:
Redesigning Workflow How one pharmacist streamlined the entire filling process.
A Few Minutes with a Community Pharmacist Phil Parkhurst, owner of Parkhurst Pharmacy in New Mexico, talks about his simple business philosophies. 26 MONEY:
Data Protection Understanding how to safeguard your customers’ credit card information. 29 OUTLOOK:
Looking Out for Pharmacy Douglas Hoey, CEO of NCPA, talks about independent pharmacy today. 34 NOTES:
How to Create a Health Information Center Educate patients with a designated resources area.
ON THE WEB //
Feature: Specializing in HIV
Gateway Apothecary in St. Louis, Mo., has created a formula that works for HIV pharmacy.
Explore exclusive online content to improve your business at www.pbahealth.com.
How to Prepare for a Health Fair
Assemble a first-rate booth for your pharmacy at the local health fair with these tips. Find the article at www.pbahealth.com.
ELEMENTS is published quarterly by PBA Health. Copyright© 2014 PBA Health. All rights reserved. Neither this publication nor any part of it may be reproduced without written permission by PBA Health.
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American Pharmacists Month is Coming Up Celebrate with these eight ideas to raise awareness
October is nearly here, and with it comes American Pharmacists Month, a time to celebrate and raise awareness for pharmacy in your community. This year, American Pharmacists Month, sponsored by the American Pharmacists Association (APhA), celebrates its 10th anniversary. This month-long holiday is an excellent opportunity to educate your community, promote your pharmacy and reward loyal customers and staff. Here are eight ways to engage all kinds of audiences in your October festivities.
Invite a local elementary school to tour your pharmacy, or visit the school personally to give a lesson on how your pharmacy works. Hold a presentation on the dangers of improper drug usage at a high school, or host a student night at your pharmacy to introduce students to the profession.
Remind your older customers of your devotion to customer service by offering a special senior discount day during October. Come out from behind the counter on this day and promote your knowledge by providing guidance on the right vitamins to take or do a review of drug therapy interactions.
Reach out to local media — radio, television or print — to bolster awareness about American Pharmacists Month. APhA provides handy resources on its website (www. pharmacist.com) to assist you in contacting news outlets or journalists.
October is a time to celebrate pharmacists across the nation, and it’s also a time when football fever burns at full blast. Support your local team by hosting a barbeque before the big game that’s open to the public. Use this opportunity to educate your community about health and wellness or to promote your services.
Use this month to expand your online presence. Pledge to make at least one post a day on Facebook or Twitter during October. You could even run a promotion or giveaway solely through your social media platforms to build buzz about your business.
Reach busy patients by attaching an information sheet to every prescription bag. Provide facts about your pharmacy, general wellness tips, information about the profession or whatever message you think merits the attention of your patients this month.
American Pharmacists Month is a time to acknowledge and reward your staff too. Hand out small gifts, words of thanks or something more notable, like a bonus. Taking the time to recognize your staff’s hard work can go a long way towards maintaining job satisfaction.
Invite legislators and local opinion leaders to attend your American Pharmacists Month events to attract more coverage to your pharmacy, and to help garner better understanding and legislative support of pharmacy issues. For more ideas on how to celebrate American Pharmacists Month, visit www.pbahealth.com.
Get daily news updates on issues that matter to your pharmacy by following us on Facebook at www.facebook.com/pbahealth and on Twitter at www.twitter.com/pba_health.
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Sound Advice Get all the benefits of music in your pharmacy, minus the legal pitfalls By Molly Norburg
If you don’t currently play music in your pharmacy, you may have untapped branding and business potential. The presence of music in retail settings has been proven to influence customers’ mood and buying behavior. But before you plug in an iPod or tune in your radio, it’s important to understand the potential legal pitfalls of using music in your store. Keeping it legal To ensure that songwriters are properly paid for their music, copyright laws exist that require businesses to pay royalties to music artists. As a business owner, you can’t play music off CDs, MP3 players or through iTunes in your pharmacy, because that music has been licensed strictly for private use. And, unless your pharmacy is less than 2,000 square feet and uses fewer than four speakers, radio is also prohibited. This may sound like a lot of work for a relatively trivial matter, but the repercussions of violating copyright laws are serious. Performance rights organizations represent music artists and thoroughly monitor use of their music in commercial settings. Hefty fines are doled out to businesses
that play unlicensed music, and repeat infringements can result in extended jail time or fines reaching $250,000. But don’t start singing the blues. Thankfully, there are options available to businesses that want to play background music without encountering legal trouble. Safer solutions If you’re set on playing music from your personal collection, you‘ll need to work with a licensing company. BMI (Broadcast Music, Inc.) and ASCAP (American Society of Composers, Authors and Publishers) are two performance rights organizations that command a near-monopoly on music licensing. If you deal with them directly, you’d have practically every song imaginable at your disposal. But the exorbitant price tags and sharp regulations that often accompany blanket contracts with these organizations make this an impractical option for most pharmacies. Instead, pharmacy owners may find that a music service, which offers licensed music for businesses and perks like pre-organized playlists by mood and genre, is a better option.
Music Services for Businesses Cloud Cover Music This company offers a spectrum of options that deliver straightforward playlists organized by genres. The basic service is likely the most cost-effective on the market, at $18 a month, and it doesn’t require the purchase of an expensive media player. Upgraded accounts allow you to deliver personalized messages between songs plus other perks. cloudcovermusic.com Pandora with DMX Lovers of Pandora, the free online music streaming company, will enjoy this option, which adapts the service for business use. For $25 a month (plus the one-time cost of a $99 DMX media player) you’ll get the familiar Pandora setup and user interface, plus commercial-free, timeout-free music. dmx.com/pandora
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Rockbot This innovative service offers more than 500 creative playlists. Customers can even request pre-approved songs and vote on playlists through their smartphones. This premium service comes at a cost of $40 a month, plus the optional $300 music player for pharmacists wanting a first-class experience. rockbot.com SiriusXM For $35 a month, fans of SiriusXM, the continuous satellite radio service, can use the service’s slate of commercial-free channels for business. To access the stations, you need either a computer with high speed Internet or a Sirius Radio, which ranges in price from $80-$200. siriusxm.com
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Clever Communicators Three ways to tell customers more, while saying less Some things are just hard to say to patients. Whether the barrier is time (How can I talk to every patient about the great products we sell?) or awkwardness (How do I work “Our price on Allegra® is the best in town” into normal conversation?), important information that might interest patients often never gets shared. However, there are ways to get your message across and share your expertise with customers without saying a word. Here are three unconventional ways to share information. Expert conversation skills not required.
You want to say: Our prices are better than our competitor’s. Try: A chalkboard Big box retailers and national chains are notorious for pushing the “lowest price” marketing message. But in more cases than you may realize, these “low cost leaders” are anything but. “I think that some independents don’t realize how competitive they really are,” said Dave Wendland, vice president of Hamacher Resource Group. “They don’t want to be seen walking into a competitor’s store and looking at the prices. But if they did, I know they’d be in awe.” Showing patients where your prices beat the competition can be as simple as writing it on a chalkboard. “Just write down your price for Allegra®, Prilosec® or whatever you want to compare, and next to it, put the competitor’s price,” said Tom Boyer, director of national accounts for Hamacher. “It’s not fancy advertising, but it’s effective. And it’s a great way to clear up the misperception that independents’ prices are higher, because typically they’re not.”
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A few tips for getting it right: • Check out the competition. It may feel uncomfortable to walk through a competitor’s store, but it’s the only way to learn about its prices. • Bring the chalkboard up to eye level with an easel. Also, make sure it doesn’t block pathways and is secure, so children can’t knock it over. • Write clearly and big enough for older customers to read it. A simple board with a clear message is better than a cluttered one where the message gets lost. • Give it a title. “Check Our Prices” or “Helping You Save” at the top of the board tells patients what they’re looking at.
You want to say: This is a really good product. You should try it. Try: “Staff Pick” and “Our Pharmacist Recommends” shelf talkers Customers are inundated with sales and marketing messages. After a while, it can all start to sound like white noise. That’s why people are increasingly looking to reviews from product users and experts to help them make buying decisions. Pharmacists and pharmacy staff are already trusted advisors, which makes their opinions on products valuable to patients. Have staff members test out and pick their favorite beauty and wellness products, and ask pharmacists to weigh in on recommended OTC items and vitamins. With these recommendations, patients gain helpful information that is likely to influence their purchases.
Pharmacist Rec A few tips for ommends Product: getting it right: Recommende d for: • Be selective. Our Pharmacist If every other Recommends Product: Recommende d for: product is pharmacistrecommended or a staff pick, it diminishes the effect of the recommendation. • Write recommendations like you’re talking with a friend. A natural, conversational style is best and helps the customer connect with the reviewer. • Keep it short. Highlight only a few features that would be most interesting to the customer, so the review is an easy read. • Give it a professional look. For Elements readers, we’ve designed “Staff Pick” and “Our Pharmacist Recommends” shelf talkers that work great in any pharmacy. Go to tinyurl.com/elements-shelftalkers to download these shelf talkers for free!
You want to say: We offer great pharmacy services. Try: Buttons Patients can easily fall into a prescription pick-up routine. They’re in and out of the pharmacy so quickly there is little time to remind them about all the services your pharmacy provides. A simple and cost-effective way to promote your services is to have buttons made for your pharmacists and staff. Since patients have to interact with staff members to get their prescriptions, buttons are less likely to be ignored than conventional signage. Buttons work especially well for pharmacies with a drive-thru window, as they allow you to promote services to customers who aren’t able to see in-store marketing.
A few tips for getting it right: • Less is more. A single button is neat and professional looking and allows patients to focus on one important message. • Switch it up. Consider changing the message on your buttons at least quarterly. Take advantage of seasonal health concerns, such as flu shots in the fall and heart health in the winter. • Make it professional. A poorly designed button can undermine your message and be counterproductive. For general button templates that work for almost any pharmacy, go to tinyurl.com/elements-buttons and have a local printer make them. These templates are free!
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Redesigning Workflow How one pharmacist streamlined the entire filling process By Kirsten Hudson
For 10 years, Don Grove, R.Ph., owner of J&D Pharmacy in Warsaw, Mo., has worked to improve the traditional pharmacy workflow. After three stages of major changes, he has now finalized a patented workflow system for his pharmacy that he says improves accuracy, speed and employee satisfaction. “Employees are doing more volume in the same amount of time, but the efficient workflow system has made it more relaxed and easier to handle the workload,” Grove said. Just exactly how much has the new workflow system increased productivity? “We have tripled our verification and filling speed for both pharmacists and technicians,” Grove said. “In my little town of 2,000 people in Warsaw, Mo., I have verified 1,000 prescriptions in a day by myself, which I call the perfect storm,” he said. “Today our pharmacists feel comfortable with 350 to 500 each. The NCPA Digest average is about 128 per pharmacist,” he said. “We have peaks of 700. The
Color-coded prescription bags and individual pharmacist and tech workstations are just two parts to the new workflow process at J&D Pharmacy in Warsaw, Mo. pharmacists don’t feel comfortable with 700, but they can do it. Our technician record is 176 compared to the NCPA Digest average of 55.” Better for everyone To reach those record numbers, Grove rethought the traditional prescription filling process. Instead of the
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typical single counter found in pharmacies where everybody works in the same space, Grove separated each function into its own area. These include drop off areas, an order entering station, individual pharmacist and technician filling stations, verification stations, a bagging station and counseling areas. Grove has found that breaking down the process into distinct areas has helped with productivity. It has enabled him to be a more effective manager by placing his employees in the positions where they can do their best work, he said. “There are production pharmacists and production techs, and clinical pharmacists and clinical techs,” he said. “Clinicals like counseling and resolving problems and productioners like to kick out the Rxs. We let each do what they love doing. When you get the right person in the right position, it maximizes volume, accuracy and employee satisfaction.” Embracing a more efficient workflow system can also lead to better patient care, Grove said. “What do you do when three people walk in and one’s waiting on a prescription, one wants a flu vaccine and the other wants a shingles shot?” Grove said. “Do you think they want to sit around for an hour until you get caught up? No, they’re going to head off to the local health organization or to another pharmacy.” “When you have a workflow that is so efficient that one pharmacist can do 300, 400, 500 in a day, then it’s
Three custom-made inventory carousels stock pill bottles in J&D Pharmacy in Warsaw, Mo. The eight-level carousels swivel for easy access and are divided into quadrants for better organization.
no problem for the other pharmacist to disappear and go do those shots and take 10 minutes or 30 minutes,” he said. “Improving productivity is huge because it gives you an opportunity to council and spend more time on those niches, like MTM, vaccinations and compounding.”
“When you get the right person in the right position, it maximizes volume, accuracy and employee satisfaction.” Improving the workspace Besides increasing productivity, the new workflow system has also created a more pleasant work environment in the pharmacy, Grove said. The workflow system includes inventory carousels, prescription bags that hang (instead of bins) and separate pharmacy and technician workstations that all increase storage while saving on floor space. “In the typical pharmacy, everyone is standing elbow to elbow,” Grove said. “Mine is very open. My people are able to enjoy themselves and walk around. They’re not all crammed in.” The floor plan may be open, but Grove specifically designed the backend of the pharmacy to be more divided from the front. The prescription drop off and counseling windows are the only areas open to patients. “If the environment is too open, you’re going to see more and more disruptions and errors as volume increases,” he said. A continuous process Grove has found a workflow system that works well for his business, but he’s always on the lookout for ways to improve it. Right now he’s figuring out how to print prescription labels that will direct technicians to the inventory carousel where the drug they need is located. He also wants to install lights that light up the quadrant where the drug is positioned, to limit search time. “I’m always excited about doing one better,” he said.
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Profile of J&D Pharmacy’s Workflow System
Like a puzzle, the different pieces of the workflow system at J&D Pharmacy fit together seamlessly. Here’s a look at the parts and how they differ from typical pharmacy workflow. Order entry point The pharmacy features one central point where all prescriptions are entered into the system and prioritized. “We picked one person who had really good entering skills and could multitask talking to the patients and now she does all the entering,” said Don Grove, R.Ph., owner of J&D Pharmacy. Technician workstation Each technician is assigned an individual filling station complete with a printer (for printing labels), touch screen computer and a phone with headset. Storage areas for belongings, designated cup holders and monitors to display family photos free up counter space. Each station also features a bar for hanging prescription bags, so they’re off the counter. Inventory carousels Technician workstations are in close proximity to three inventory carousels. Similar to a Lazy Susan, the carousels are cylindrical in shape and spin for easy access. These vertical, eight-level storage systems hold fast movers not entered into robotics. The carousels are split into quadrants and separate drugs with fully movable dividers, which are especially useful for separating the same drugs of different strengths. Color-coded prescription bags The pharmacy uses clear bags to place all prescriptions in during the filling and checking process. The bags are color coded by urgency. Red means the customer is waiting. Yellow means the customer is coming in sometime that day to pick it up. Green means the customer is coming in the next day or in the near future. Rainbow is for a special order or for drugs that are
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expensive. “The bags are color coded so the pharmacist only works on prescriptions that are waiting and then in order of urgency, which lowers stress levels,” Grove said. Pouches on the front and back of each bag allow for easy storage of pricing and auxiliary labels, such as “Refrigerate.” Pharmacist check station Similar to the inventory carousel, the pharmacist check station is cylindrical in shape and swivels. The check station carousel is divided into four time slots: 7 a.m. – 9 a.m., 9 a.m. – 12 p.m., 12 p.m. – 3 p.m. and 3 p.m. – 6 p.m. The check station features bars where technicians hang green, yellow or rainbow prescription bags according to the timeframe when they place them in the slot. Red bags go immediately to the pharmacist’s workstation. Pharmacist workstation Each pharmacist has an individual workstation for the traditional checking of information. The pharmacist workstation closely resembles the technician workstation with a touch screen computer, phone, storage areas and a monitor to display family photos. The pharmacist workstation sits in close proximity to the narcotics cabinet and includes a pull-out tray that holds counting supplies and prescription pads. OTC bagging station A separate area of the pharmacy is dedicated to getting prescriptions ready at point of sale. It features a horizontal bar where the color-coded prescription bags hang to free up counter space.
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Specializing in HIV Gateway Apothecary in St. Louis, Mo., has created a formula that works for HIV specialty pharmacy By Kimberly Van Becelaere
Recent advances in antiretroviral drug therapy offer enormous hope to millions living with HIV. For patients who take antiretroviral drugs correctly and maintain a low viral load, life expectancy is very close to that of the general population, a significant achievement that seemed almost impossible 20 years ago. While HIV treatments have advanced substantially, the need for caring, engaged and service-focused pharmacists to manage those medications has arguably never been greater. This represents an opportunity for independent pharmacies to grow their businesses by helping patients who need life-long drug-related care. It’s also a chance to improve the lives of HIV patients and to make a real contribution to fighting the spread of HIV. For Gateway Apothecary in St. Louis, Mo., treating HIV patients is familiar ground. Its pharmacists have more than 55 years of combined experience in treating patients with HIV, and the pharmacy has built a reputation for excellence in HIV care. The growing pharmacy has built that reputation—and its business—through superior care to patients; by working closely with physicians and community organizations; and by specializing its pharmacists’ knowledge through certification and ongoing education. Gateway Apothecary’s HIV program offers a solid example for how independents can build a business around helping HIV patients. Here’s a look at how they do it.
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Certification and Specialization In the city of St. Louis, Mo., there are four certified HIV Pharmacists. Three of those pharmacists work at Gateway Apothecary. Roselyn Santos, R.Ph., Maria Perez, R.Ph., and Stuart Federman, Pharm.D., obtained HIV Pharmacist certification from the American Academy of HIV Medicine (AAHIVM) to better serve their patients. “I decided to become a certified HIV Pharmacist to further improve my skills and education, and ultimately to give our patients better service,” Santos said. “I now have a better understanding of the treatment options and of related health problems, like opportunistic infections, and their relationship to HIV.” AAHIVM has offered its Certified HIV Pharmacist credentialing program since 2011, and it remains the primary assessment program for HIV care providers nationally. In 2014, Gateway Apothecary received the Peter M. Fox Excellence in AAHIVM Credentialing Award. This award is given to physician groups, clinics and pharmacies where all eligible practitioners have achieved certification. Of the 18 practices recognized in 2014, Gateway Apothecary was the only pharmacy to receive the award. Having all of its pharmacists certified has many
advantages for Gateway Apothecary, both for the HIV patients the pharmacy serves and for the medical teams involved with treatment. “More and more MDs, DOs, PAs and MPs depend on their relationships with pharmacists, especially specialist pharmacists, and consult with them about treatment plans,” said Ken South, director of credentialing for the American Academy of HIV Medicine. “Treating HIV is so driven by good pharmacology; it’s what’s keeping people alive,” he said. “And the fact that it’s changing all the time is all the more reason medical team members would prefer a specialist to consult with about their patients.” Other ways that the pharmacists at Gateway Apothecary supplement their knowledge include attending conferences and updates on HIV, seeking out continuing education and working closely with researchers at Washington University in St. Louis. “You need to have your face out there when there’s an event like an update, so people know you are staying abreast of changes in HIV therapy,” said Chris Geronsin, R.Ph., owner and president of Gateway Apothecary. “I’ve been doing it for 20 years, and HIV therapy has changed dramatically. Keeping up with the changes is critical.”
HIV in numbers
1.1 million – number of people in the U.S. with HIV
15.8 percentage of those people who are unaware of their infection
50,000 number of new HIV infections per year in the U.S.
Source: Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
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Coordination and Connection Gateway Apothecary makes it a priority to closely align with all members of patients’ health care teams. That vision of a tightly connected network led the pharmacy to its current location in the central west end of St. Louis, close to Barnes Jewish Hospital, Washington University physicians and clinics, and many HIV treatment centers. The pharmacy’s prime location has made patient care easier in some cases and has provided opportunities to strengthen ties with patient care teams. “We’ve had times where the patients are in need of something and we basically just walk over to the clinic and talk with the person directly,” Geronsin said. While a convenient location certainly helps, it’s not the most important factor in forging strong relationships with physicians and care teams. What really counts is doing what you say you’ll do and being a problem solver, Geronsin said. With the high cost of HIV drugs and the complexities of health insurance, problem solving often involves finding workable solutions to coverage issues. “We work with physicians to make sure that each patient is able to afford the medication as well as working to limit the side effects of the medication,” Gateway Apothecary pharmacist Stuart Federman said. Sometimes that means thinking outside of the box to make sure patients get the medications they need. “We had a patient come in with a prescription that was a $400 co-pay,” Geronsin said. “There were coupons for $200 off that, but the patient didn’t have the other $200, and wasn’t eligible for foundation assistance. The solution was to break the prescription in two. And there are $200 coupons for each one of those. So, outside-of-the-box thinking and knowing what you can do is so important.” Reaching Out One standout characteristic of Gateway Apothecary’s approach to treating HIV patients is that its pharmacists operate as part of the community. For many HIV patients, it isn’t as simple as getting a prescription and filling it. Coverage gaps, prohibitively high co-pays, and sometimes more basic challenges, such as housing and
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access to a telephone, are issues that can interfere with adherence to treatment. That’s why Gateway Apothecary works closely with community organizations to connect patients to the help they need. “We work with DOORWAYS, which provides entry-level housing,” Geronsin said. “It was started in the ‘80s when HIV patients had trouble even finding a place to live. We work with case managers and social workers and with the Ryan White HIV/AIDS program.” Gateway Apothecary also participates on a governmental level. “The mayor of St. Louis has appointed one of our staff to the St. Louis planning council, which covers a lot of issues, such as what drugs and services to cover, budgetary concerns and
Becoming a certified HIV Pharmacist There are currently 420 certified HIV Pharmacists nationwide. We talked with Ken South, director of credentialing for the American Academy of HIV Medicine, about what it takes to get certified and why it’s important. What are the requirements for a pharmacist to pursue certification? There are two major eligibility requirements. First is the experience requirement. You have to be a licensed pharmacist and have graduated from a recognized pharmacy school. You also need to be in contact or in charge of a minimum of 20 patients with HIV. The other part of it is the didactic or the CME eligibility requirement. You have to have at least 30 hours of CME activities related to HIV over the last 24 months. We accept any accredited CME, as long as it’s related to HIV. So, a pharmacist could take a course on pharmacology, blood pressure, diabetes or lung problems. As long as they’re related to HIV, we would accept them. If a pharmacist is interested in becoming certified, what’s the first step? The first step is to read the information on our website (www.aahivm.org). There are five tabs across the homepage, and one of them is Credentialing. Under that, you’ll see several pages of information. There’s also a tutorial that goes through the exam step by step, and that’s helpful to a lot of people. The credentialing enrollment window is April 15 to July 11, so it’s closed for this year, but it will follow a similar period of time next spring. How much does the exam cost? If you’re a member of the academy, the online version is $270 and the paper version is $360. The non-member online price is $330 and the paper version is $420. And
of course we point out that now that the exam is valid for three years, it makes it cheaper each year. At the end of three years, what’s the process for renewing certification? The credential is active for 36 months and then at the end of that time, to remain credentialed, you have to take a new exam. The exam is updated each year and is completely rewritten every three years. HIV is still a fairly fast-moving target, especially in terms of pharmacology, so we always wait until after the yearly CROI (Conference on Retroviruses and Opportunistic Infections) to update the exam. What are some of the benefits for a pharmacist to obtain this certification? It definitely shows that they have an expertise in HIV treatment. Also, once pharmacists become certified, they go on our referral list; it’s a national HIV provider database. It’s free and it’s a good way of advertising and getting more patients to that pharmacy. Also, for some people, becoming certified is a personal challenge. They want to make sure that they’re up to date with what’s going on in HIV medicine. Do you think there is a need for more certified HIV Pharmacists? Yes. As far as total number of pharmacists, there is a very small number certified. But with the expansion of HIV care and especially with the expansion of the Affordable Care Act, more and more people are getting involved in HIV medicine who hadn’t been involved before. So, yes, there is a growing need for HIV specialist pharmacists. For more information about becoming a certified HIV Pharmacist, visit www.aahivm.org.
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that type of thing,” Geronsin said. By establishing close partnerships with organizations in its community, Gateway Apothecary has been able to provide a higher level of care to its patients, and to achieve better adherence rates. “We do things responsibly,” Geronsin said. “If we see that a patient got a fill on the first of January and they come back to us two months later to get another fill, they’re not being compliant with their drugs. So, we want to work with the patient and all members of the patient’s care team to get back on track. You have to be clinically responsible for your patients.”
The patients are very protective of their privacy, added Gateway Apothecary pharmacist Roselyn Santos. “Once they sense that you care for them and respect their privacy, they start to trust you and call you for every health issue that they have,” she said. “We help bridge the gap between the patient and the physician.” That care doesn’t stop at the pharmacy’s door. The pharmacists at Gateway Apothecary are actively involved in community outreach and regularly share their knowledge with high-risk communities to prevent the spread of HIV. One way they do that is by giving talks to residents of low-income housing and to women over 55, which is one of the fastest-growing groups of new HIV infections. “We go in, talk to them about HIV and Hepatitis C and then we do testing,” Geronsin said. “When we first started doing this, I thought there wouldn’t be much interest. But the first time we went out, we had 25 test kits and we ran out.” For those who test positive, the pharmacists at Gateway Apothecary put them in touch with organizations that can help them. “We don’t just tell people, ‘Oh, you’re HIV positive.’ We connect them to care,” Geronsin said. “Whatever area they need, we connect them to it, and then we follow up to see how they are doing.” That superior service approach has been the model for Gateway Apothecary’s business. Relationships built out of service to the community and earned trust have translated into business agreements and contracts. By putting the patient first and continually looking for new ways to help, Gateway Apothecary has established itself as the go-to pharmacy for HIV patients in the area.
“Once they sense that you care for them and respect their privacy, they start to trust you and call you for every health issue that they have,” she said. “We help bridge the gap between the patient and the physician.”
A High-Touch Approach The team of pharmacists and staff at Gateway Apothecary plays a vital role in helping HIV patients access the medications they need and stick to their treatment, which is so important for HIV patients. “I’m very proud of (HIV Pharmacists) Rose, Stuart and Maria,” Geronsin said. “They are wonderful pharmacists, but they’re also wonderful people. They care. Everybody can say that they care, but showing it on a daily basis is something that they do and I’m very proud of that.” Gateway Apothecary pharmacist Maria Perez said it’s important to consistently reach out to patients. “There is a lot of interaction involved when taking care of HIV patients, and compliance is key,” she said. “This is when we help them the most. Our monthly calls serve to remind them about refills, and at the same time are a way to check on how they react to medications, if they experience any side effects, or if there is difficulty taking the medications.”
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A Pioneer in HIV Pharmacy Dale Smith, R.Ph., was specializing in HIV pharmacy before it was a specialty. During the late 1980s and early 1990s he co-owned Home Health Depot, a pharmacy located in Kansas City, Mo., that focused on home health pharmacy. As HIV/AIDS became more prevalent in the late 1980s, Smith recognized a need to help those patients. “An unfortunate thing happened at that time in that people were scared of those with HIV/AIDS,” Smith said. “They didn’t know how it was transmitted. They didn’t know if you breathed it in like influenza or something like that.” “I actually knew pharmacists who would tell HIV patients that they didn’t want them to come in their doors. People with HIV/AIDS were really ostracized. So, we started dispensing those drugs and building a business because other people didn’t want to take care of those patients at the time.” Leading the way For a number of years, Home Health Depot was the only pharmacy in town actively accepting HIV patients. “Nobody else wanted those patients,” Smith said. “All of a sudden all of the doctors around would call us and say, ‘Hey, we hear you’ll take care of these patients and you do a good job.’ And they’d send patients our way.” Helping HIV patients involved far more than just dispensing the drugs. “Many of these people had mental problems or were not very compliant because they didn’t realize the seriousness of their disease state,” Smith said. “They’d get tired of taking the drugs and they’d stop. So, it became a pharmacist-managed program to take care of those people, to educate them and to make sure they filled their prescriptions on time.” If patients were late on their refills, the pharmacy would immediately call them. “The doctors at the time were frustrated too,” Smith said. “Patients would come in and they’d find out that they weren’t taking their medications and the pharmacy didn’t do anything about it. So, they’d channel that business to us.” HIV pharmacy today Throughout his career, Smith has been active in creating awareness for HIV/AIDS, both to the general public and to pharmacists. He has served as president of the AIDS Service Foundation of Greater Kansas City, and has helped open HIV/AIDS-focused pharmacies in states with high populations of the disease.
Longtime pharmacist Dale Smith, R.Ph., has been helping HIV patients since the 1980s. “It’s a good business opportunity for independents,” Smith said. “You’ll see physicians send patients to pharmacies that really take care of those patients, that talk to them, counsel them and give them the medication therapy management they need.” For independent pharmacies looking to specialize in HIV/AIDS today, Smith offers some advice. “Independent pharmacies have to get involved with the HIV community,” he said. “You, the pharmacist, have to be involved with that community because the people with HIV/AIDS are very private about their disease; they don’t want people to know because of rejection and things like that. They want to know their pharmacist and they want to trust their pharmacist. They want to walk into that pharmacy and realize that their pharmacist knows them, knows they have HIV/AIDS and is happy to help them.”
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A Few Minutes with a Community Pharmacist
Phil Parkhurst, R.Ph., owns Parkhurst Pharmacy, an independent community pharmacy located in the small mining town of Grants, New Mexico. We talked with Parkhurst about the “simple philosophies” that keep his pharmacy going and what he sees in store for the future. Tell us about Parkhurst Pharmacy. How did the business get started? I was born and raised in Albuquerque, New Mexico, and went to school at the University of New Mexico College of Pharmacy. With some help, I purchased an existing pharmacy in 1968 and moved here with my young family when I was 27 years old. I didn’t know a thing about this community other than that I had driven through it a few times and bought gas, then went on down the road to the fishing hole. But we started the business and worked hard. We were open seven days a week for a number of years. When you’re starting from zero, that’s what you have to do. It’s up to you to do the work. We worked hard and here we are 46 years later. What has made your pharmacy successful? I have a lot of simple philosophies in my business. I started working in a pharmacy when I was in high school. I worked with some old timers who worked part-time.
They gave me a lot of information and guidance on what to do and what not to do when working with people and how to treat customers and take care of them. And they gave me a lot of one-liners like, ‘You take care of the customers and they’ll take care of you.’ I really took that to heart, embraced it and that’s been my business philosophy. It has worked out well for me. Do you have any other philosophies that have worked for you? Another thing those old-timers taught me was to treat your customers fair and to always give them a fair and equitable price. You take care of the customers and the money takes care of itself, and that’s really very true. I never embraced the $4 prescription business, and I don’t see a necessity for doing that. When Walmart started doing that a few years ago, there was some pressure to do it, but I decided to just continue to do what I’ve always done and make a fair price on everything I do. In a small town, you always hear in advance when somebody new is coming to town. Before Walmart opened up, all of the customers would come in asking about it, and they’re personal friends so they were worried about us. They’d ask, ‘What are you going to do?’ and ‘What’s going to happen to you?’ And I worried
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Phil Parkhurst, R.Ph., prides himself and his business on helping patients by providing the best service possible. He believes that, “You take care of the customers and they’ll take care of you.”
about it and worried about it for a few months. Finally, I decided, well, I’ve done as well as I could for all these years. If it doesn’t work out, I guess I’ll just close up and go work at Walmart. So I quit worrying about it. What happened? Well, that was 14 years ago. For the first couple of years, they took my growth away. I didn’t go backwards, but they took away my growth. But now we’ve managed to take away a lot of business from Walmart. People come in here all the time with their little Ziploc® baggie with a bunch of bottles in there from Walmart, and they say, ‘What do I have to do to transfer my prescriptions over here?’ And I say, ‘Just set that bag on the counter and I’ll take care of you.’ And it’s amazing how many people come in here and drop off their bottles and say, ‘I’m going over to Walmart to do some shopping. I’ll be back to pick these up after a bit.’ They get their scripts here, and they go out and buy their rubber ducks and magazines and TVs at Walmart. We have that happen every day. And we try to give them a reason to do that.
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Why do you think people are switching back to you? Well, it’s very simple. The service. A lot of the people who come in here are sick; they don’t feel good; they’re cranky; and they want to hurry up and get home. And anything we can do to make that more pleasant and an easier experience, then that’s what we’re going to try to do. We offer them a cold bottle of water while they sit down and wait. If they need us to call a ride for them, we’ll do that. If we need to help them loosen up their shoelaces, we’ll do that for them. Whatever they need to make them feel good. That’s what we do. Do you have any advice to share with other independent pharmacy owners? The best advice I can give you is to pay attention to your customers and to do everything you can for them. Most people are good people at heart, and they’ll recognize when you genuinely and truly care about them. Sincere caring, not just superficial. And they’re going to come back.
“People around the community continually tell me how kind and courteous and caring my staff is,” said Phil Parkhurst, R.Ph., owner of Parkhurst Pharmacy. “I think that’s the reason people continue to come back.”
It makes you feel good to go someplace where somebody knows you, right? You walk in someplace and they say, ‘Hey Sue, how ya doing?’ That makes you feel good. Well next time you need something, you’ll go back there. So, get to know your customers and treat them right and they’re going to look forward to coming to you. That’s my belief. Any businessspecific advice? One of the things people always used to say was that you have to price your products right and you have to sell them right, but anymore that’s only half the equation. Now, you really truly have to buy right. And you have to have partners, like PBA Health, to help put you in a position where you can buy better and remain competitive with the chains. And then it’s up to you to figure out a way to make it all work. But you need to have people who are willing to help you get there. And be loyal to them and they’ll be loyal to you. That’s what it’s all about for me is loyalty. If independents are going to survive, we have to pay attention to all facets of our businesses. You have to buy right; you have to sell right. You have to be careful of the contracts you sign and agree to. But you also have to work hard with your vendors, your suppliers, your wholesalers, your PSAOs. You have to have somebody who gives you good representation and contractual negotiation with the PBMs. And lastly, you really have to take good care of your customers; otherwise they’re
not going to be there in the first place. Because after all, if they have an insurance card and they pay 10 bucks wherever they go, it doesn’t matter where they go— Walmart, CVS, Joe’s Pharmacy. They pay the same 10 bucks, so you have to give them a reason to come see you instead of somebody else. What’s your vision for your pharmacy over the next few years? Even though we’re here in a little podunk city in a small community, my little pharmacy has 11 computers, a robot and a pill counter. We try to stay on top of what’s going on and take advantage of things that are helpful to us in our business and our profession. I look for things that enable us to free up our time, so we can spend just a teeny bit more time with our customers. That way they’re back to see us when they need something else. Just because something is new and shiny, that doesn’t mean I jump right on it. I’m not the first kid on the block who runs out and buys it. I let it sit for a bit and I say, ‘Well this is a good thing, but…’ And I try and figure out what I can do with the “buts” to make it really work better for me. I’ve been in business long enough that I’m taking care of fourth generation families. To me, when I see that, it tells me that we must be doing things right. I’m happy to have had the opportunity to help patients all these years; it has been satisfying and rewarding in many ways.
“You take care of the customers and they’ll take care of you.”
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Data Protection Understanding how to safeguard your customers’ credit card information Each year, approximately 17 million Americans become victims of identity theft, and those numbers only continue to grow, according to the Bureau of Justice Statistics. The theft of information from payment cards (an umbrella term that covers debit, credit and prepaid cards) is one of the most prevalent, and costly, forms of identity crime. You may think your independent community pharmacy is immune to identity theft, but hackers often target small businesses first because of their relaxed policies or inexperience with identity protection. If you accept payment cards, you may not know you’re putting your customers at risk until it’s too late. Better protection In 2006, five of the world’s largest payment brands— American Express®, Discover®, JCB International®, MasterCard® and Visa®—created a standard to protect confidential cardholder data: the Payment Card Industry Data Security Standard (PCI DSS). The PCI DSS consists of common sense steps that
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mirror security best practices. It includes best practices on everything from password strength to point-of-sale payment systems and firewalls. And all businesses that store, process or submit cardholder data are required to comply with it. This includes businesses that outsource their payment card processing. “The PCI DSS gives pharmacies a baseline of security measures they can put in place in their everyday business practices to help them protect their customers’ payment card data,” said Bob Russo, general manager of the Payment Card Industry Security Standards Council, the organization responsible for managing the PCI DSS. Because the PCI DSS covers many facets of data security, Russo recommends working directly with acquirers and payment card brands to best understand and implement the guidelines. Keep in mind that each payment card brand has specific requirements for compliance validation. “Pharmacies should definitely lean on their acquiring banks for help in understanding the requirements and
A Quick Start to Protecting Customers’ Card Data Buy and use only approved PIN entry devices at POS.
Make sure your wireless router is password-protected and uses encryption.
Buy and use only validated payment software at POS. Make sure your payment systems are installed properly and securely by using PCI-qualified personnel.
Use strong passwords. Be sure to change default passwords on hardware and software.
Do not store any sensitive cardholder data in computers or on paper.
Regularly check PIN entry devices and PCs to make sure no one has installed rogue software or “skimming” devices.
Use a firewall on your network and PCs.
Source: Payment Card Industry Security Standards Council
how they can ensure they’re taking the steps they need to secure their payment card data,” Russo said. Security pitfalls You might be wondering why you should care about PCI compliance when patient information is already protected under HIPAA compliance. While the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) contains extensive requirements for your patients’ health information, it gives zero consideration to the privacy of their financial information. So health care providers like your pharmacy must meet both HIPAA and PCI compliance. The repercussions of noncompliance with PCI DSS can be catastrophic if a security lapse occurs. “This can have disastrous effects on a business and damage its reputation for years to come, not to mention the financial impact of legal costs and potential fines associated with a breach,” Russo said. For evidence, look no further than the Target hack of 2013, which cost the retailer nearly $150 million (and counting) in damage control and nearly half of its expected revenue in the following fiscal quarter. While your pharmacy isn’t a huge corporation like Target, you stand to lose just as much without proper security. But by continually working to comply with the PCI DSS, you can safeguard your business.
Getting started Achieving compliance with the PCI DSS is a continuous process that includes everything from creating a secure network to choosing approved vendors, but you can take small steps today that go a long way towards safeguarding customer information. Some are as simple as improving the complexity of your passwords. “If not updated from the default or if passwords are too simple, it can make it easy for data thieves to break in,” Russo said. “And we all know the low-hanging fruit always gets tapped first.” “It is important to remember that the real focus should be security, not compliance. Good security leads to compliance,” he said. The best way to ensure the safety of your customers and your business is by emphasizing constant vigilance instead of relying on PCI compliance, which is just a snapshot in time. “Security is a 24-hours-a-day, 7-days-a-week, 365-days-a-year effort,” Russo said. “And just like a lock is no good if you forget to lock it, PCI DSS controls are only effective if they are implemented properly and as part of an everyday, ongoing business process.” The Payment Card Industry Security Standards Council offers helpful information to help you understand the PCI DSS, including a quick reference guide on PCI compliance, selfassessment forms and more at www.pcisecuritystandards.org.
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Looking Out for Pharmacy Douglas Hoey, CEO of NCPA, talks about independent pharmacy today
As an independent community pharmacist, you’ve probably joined the National Community Pharmacists Association (NCPA). But it’s not always easy to keep up with the details of what that membership actually does for your individual pharmacy. That’s why we sat down with Douglas Hoey, R.Ph., MBA, chief executive officer of NCPA, to discuss the current pharmacy landscape, to take a fresh look at what NCPA’s working on today and to look ahead at what’s in store for pharmacies in the future. What is NCPA all about? We’re probably best known for our legislative efforts. We work to prevent legislation or regulations that would harm community pharmacies’ businesses and their patients, and we also help get legislation passed and regulations implemented that are beneficial to them. But if you take a step back, I think we exist to act as a megaphone for the voices of the 23,000 community pharmacies in the nation, the 60,000 pharmacists that work at those stores, the 300,000 employees at those stores and the millions of patients who walk through their doors. We act as a megaphone for all of those voices. Why is it important for independent community pharmacists to join NCPA? For a number of reasons, but one is that ability to have that unified and coordinated voice. Pharmacy has a small number of health care providers. We have about 300,000 pharmacists in the country compared to about 1 million physicians, for example. And even when physicians try to flex their legislative muscle, sometimes it’s still dictated to them how their practices will run. That just shows that to increase community pharmacies’ chances of success, we have to have a unified and coordinated voice.
Tell us about the overall vision of NCPA. The broad vision is to create an environment that allows community pharmacies to be more successful. We can’t make them successful or unsuccessful, but we can help create an environment that fosters success. And we break down that vision into two buckets. The first is the issues of here and now. What are the things that are affecting our members today? The second is trying to see around the corner. What are those things in the future that we think will affect our members and how do we help them prepare? What are the benefits of being a NCPA member? There’s the somewhat transparent benefit of when potentially harmful legislation or regulation is prevented from happening. The pharmacy never actually feels the sting from that because we caught it before it got to them. For example, a few years ago in the Medicare Part D program, the insurance plans weren’t paying the pharmacies for months at a time. And we were able to get prompt pay legislation passed that requires the insurance plans in Part D to pay pharmacies much more quickly. Another benefit is that we help pharmacies see what’s coming. They’re busy running their businesses. They’re busy managing their employees. They don’t always have time to try to look into the crystal ball and see what’s coming in the future. My dad was a pharmacy owner. I worked for him both as a kid and as a pharmacist. He made the comment to me once or twice that sometimes as a business owner, you’re out there and you feel like you’re on an island by yourself. Because you’re handling the personnel issues and the business management issues that maybe you weren’t trained for in your education. NCPA is that lifeline
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to pharmacists who feel like they’re out there on an island by themselves. We take it seriously at NCPA that we have a responsibility to provide leadership for what’s coming. What are the main concerns that you’re hearing from independent community pharmacists today? Our members’ top two priorities for us are access to preferred networks and the delays in MAC payment updates. On that second one, the issue isn’t generic products going up in price. That’s a symptom. The root problem is that the payment that we get for those products doesn’t go up for weeks at a time. Right now, the pain from the delays in MAC payment updates is the biggest problem area for the membership from what we’re hearing.
Our name wasn’t on it, but we helped in the crafting of those news segments. On the preferred networks issue, we’ve gotten some legislation—H.R.4577, The Ensuring Seniors Access to Local Pharmacies Act of 2014—introduced that would give Medicare seniors in medically-underserved areas more choice and access to prescription drugs. We have more than 60 co-sponsors now, but we need a lot more and we’re going to need something introduced in the Senate as well. To bring attention to that cause, NCPA has recently put together two national radio campaigns with interviews on the importance of opening up preferred networks to pharmacies. These and other resources are available on www.ncpanet.org/ pharmacychoice, a website dedicated to the preferred pharmacy issue. We’ve also formed the Any Willing Pharmacy Coalition with other like-minded stakeholders who are working with NCPA to unify and coordinate our actions. Those radio ads, the media, all of it takes resources. And that comes from the membership. Our membership is pretty inexpensive, but every dollar goes to doing things that are going to help pharmacy owners be more successful.
“We take it seriously at NCPA that we have a responsibility to provide leadership for what’s coming.”
What is NCPA doing to address those concerns? For years NCPA has been working with federal Medicare officials and advocating about problems in Part D, including the MAC payment issue. This past January, February and March, with the help of dozens of other pharmacy stakeholders, we were able to make a change. Starting in 2016, Medicare has mandated that Part D plans have to update their MAC prices every seven days. That’s an important breakthrough. It doesn’t start until 2016 and it’s only in Part D, but that’s an enormous breakthrough. Also, NCPA supported the work in the states so now 16 states have passed MAC legislation. There’s a certain amount of NCPA’s work that’s behind the scenes, that we just can’t put on a message board or throw in a newsletter. We’re talking with other stakeholders right now who can help affect the MAC issue, but we can’t say, “Oh we have a meeting with so and so” because it would betray those relationships. But behind the scenes, we’re having a number of meetings and expressing the dire situation of these generic products being paid under cost. We’ve also asked for a Congressional hearing on the generic price increases and we’ve been referenced in The New York Times about this call for a Congressional hearing. We worked with some large television stations that have done some news segments on the generic price increases.
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How can NCPA members help? About 60 people work at NCPA. We’re a mid-sized association. The opposition has more lobbyists than we have staff members—and a lot more money. But we have the 23,000 pharmacy locations, the 60,000 pharmacists, the 300,000 employees of those pharmacies and the millions of patients walking through their doors. The power NCPA has is acting as a megaphone for the voice of our members. From a legislative and regulatory standpoint, members can help by getting in touch with their legislators. It’s important to develop relationships and invite those legislators into their pharmacies. We’ve been suggesting that to pharmacies for about seven or eight years. There have probably been 300 or 400 pharmacy visits from that, which is fantastic. But there needs to be a lot more.
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OUTLOOK What are the big issues for the future? We have to be thinking about pharmacies being part of high-performing pharmacy networks. Pharmacies need to do well with plan Star Ratings. Pharmacies also have to be allowed to provide specialty pharmaceuticals because there’s a correlation between being part of a high-performing pharmacy network and being able to provide specialty pharmaceuticals. Those are probably the big three. What is the state of the pharmacy industry today? The environment is challenging. Things are changing. I hear some people say, “It’s not like it used to be.” But on the other hand, I also hear from some who are adapting very well to the changes. While it’s hard, they’re still doing well. They’re still optimistic. And, any time we talk about how pharmacy is doing, we need to talk about the care for our patients. I think the ability to take care of our patients is changing rapidly. But over time and through history, who or what has changed better than a community pharmacy? We’re the laboratories of innovation for our profession. So, it’s different and it’s changing, but there are still a lot of successful people out there, and the most successful benefactors are the patients who get the customized care of a community pharmacist. Your annual convention is coming up. What do attendees have to look forward to? Officially we use “Learn. Meet. Succeed.,” which describes the experience of those who attend. Unofficially, the theme of the convention is going to be about high-performing pharmacies and how to make your pharmacy perform like one. We even have a post-convention program called, Networking for High Performance Pharmacies, that will tackle questions like: What is a high-performing pharmacy?; Are you one?; How can you be one?; How can you affiliate with other high-performing pharmacies?; and What does a high-performing pharmacy mean to payers? That’s an important aspect to look forward to this year.
Are You Attending? NCPA 2014 Annual Convention October 18 – 22, 2014 Austin, Texas
Featured speakers: Guy Kawasaki This year's keynote speaker is Guy Kawasaki, a Silicon Valley author, motivational speaker, investor, and management advisor who will share his business and marketing acumen. “We chose him specifically because he’s very businessoriented,” said Douglas Hoey, NCPA CEO. Dave Carroll “We invited him because of his metamorphosis with customer and business relationships,” Hoey said. “He was on a United Airlines flight and they ruined his guitar and wouldn’t fix it. So, he wrote a song called ‘United Breaks Guitars’ that has received 15 million hits on YouTube. Big businesses used to be able to brush off customers, but now they can’t because of the power of the consumer via social media. We want to look at how members can use his experiences to help their businesses.” Find out more at www.ncpanet.org/conferences-events/ 2014-annual-convention.
Douglas Hoey, R.Ph., MBA, chief executive officer of the National Community Pharmacists Association, has spent more than 20 years working in and representing independent community pharmacies.
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How to Create a Health Information Center
As a pharmacist, you already have a wealth of expertise at your fingertips. But as a busy medical professional, you don’t always have a wealth of time to share this knowledge. Bridge that gap by transforming a corner of your pharmacy into a health information center. A space dedicated to providing technology and resources to educate patients enables them to get answers to health care questions and to study up on their conditions without a pharmacist’s immediate assistance. Providing this free education also helps reinforce your pharmacy as an authority on health in the community. So where do you begin creating one? Here are a few ideas. Create a brochure stand While brochure stands might lack originality, they’ve endured for a reason. They’re an effective way to communicate a large number of ideas at once and patients can take the information with them. Plus, setup is cheap and easy, and once you assemble a stand, it requires little upkeep. Be sure to provide brochures on a variety of topics, such as diabetes, cold and flu, allergies, asthma, depression, anxiety, pediatrics,
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women’s health, men’s health, vitamins and nutrition. The American Pharmacists Association offers 18 free printable brochures on its website. Some are also available in Spanish. Find them at www.pharmacist.com/create-patienteducation-center-your-pharmacy. Buy a tablet Set up a tablet (like an iPad or a Microsoft Surface) for patients to browse health information. With thousands of health care apps available for download, a tablet system is customizable and versatile. Check out pbahealth.com for a list of the best apps to use in your pharmacy. However, tablets can be a theft or damage liability, so be sure to invest in a lockable, shatterproof stand (available at any number of online or retail stores.) Hold monthly giveaways Promote monthly giveaways in your health information center to increase interest in the space and to reward loyal customers. For example, you could do a drawing for free vitamins during National Nutrition Month in March. Patients who enter your health information center to sign up for
the giveaway will then be more likely to hang around and check out the resources you provide. Post announcements Hang up a bulletin board in your health information center to create a forum for discussion and promotion of health-related events. It’s a great area to post announcements about guest speakers at the civic center, diabetes education classes at your pharmacy or free yoga classes in the park. Encourage community members and local businesses to use the board.
Take it online! Don’t have the space to devote inside your store? Take your expertise to the Internet. Develop a resources section for your patients on your pharmacy’s website. It could be as simple as compiling a section of links to useful websites or as complex as writing your own health blog. By transforming your pharmacy into a savvy health resource, you’ll increase web traffic to your site while also providing value to patients.