Pharmacy Owner Feedback, January Edition

By Matt Tompkins, Director of Marketing & Member Engagement

Last week I went on the road with Jake Lewis, our Regional Director serving southern California, to meet long time members, new members, prospective members, warehouse customers and industry association leadership.

ipc on the road jake lewis with ipc member in california
ipc on the road matt tompkins with pharmacist in california

As a member owned cooperative, our members are our owners, and we take every opportunity to listen, learn, and share their concerns and solutions for the benefit of others.

What’s working?

What’s not working?

Where are they struggling and need assistance?

Over the course of the three days in Orange County and Los Angeles we met with fifteen different owners who varied from single to multi-store owners, traditional retail to specialty, pharmacists and businesspeople, new owners, and industry veterans. What a trip!

As you can probably guess, the number one comment or concern was reimbursements. We heard so many stories about individual examples of prescriptions being dispensed at a loss. Some owners were struggling to see the path forward and others recognized the turbulence and tightened their seat belt knowing they would survive this too.

Here are a few of the ideas that came out of these meetings that may spark an idea for your store:

  1. Long term care (LTC) was one of the solutions that an industry veteran shared with us as to how he and his pharmacy mitigated the impact of the DIR fee changes. He worked with GeriMed and was able to identify the patients that fit that category and improve his bottom line.
  2. Buying smarter was probably the second most common solution we heard. Those stores that have a strategic purchasing strategy to balance individual product pricing with maximizing rebates appear to be more confident they will ride this out less stressfully. Two specific IPC solutions these members have access to are our Senior Member Advisors and our blog series on Pharmacy Business 101: Creating a Purchasing Strategy.
  3. The third theme owners shared with us was not getting too laser focused on just the specific prescription that is at a loss but rather taking a broader look at the entire patient and their sphere of influence to truly understand the overall value. We thought this would be a valuable topic on its own, so we wrote a separate blog about what their process looks like here.

While declining reimbursements was absolutely the number one concern, there were a couple others that came up when we asked about the broader issues facing pharmacy owners today.

One we heard several times was the desire to implement new programs or services, such as LTC, 340B, DME, or compounding, to name a few that we heard. The challenge was being able to separate from the day-to-day business and focus on some of these big and important objectives. Once you have made the commitment to add a new program, our Pharmacy Services team is available to guide members through the process of getting programs like these up and running.

When looking beyond the finances and operations of the pharmacy, effectively managing their team was the most common concern.

  • How do I get my team to operate at a high level when I am not there?
  • I need to offer new programs and services and I can’t seem to get my team on board.
  • Finding good talent is hard.

After hearing this critical feedback, we are looking for resources, partnerships, and peers that we can bring to support your leadership and the management of your team.

I want to thank all the owners we met last week for being so generous with their time and their insight. I am grateful you allow us to serve you in supporting your success. Jake Lewis, thank you for your commitment to the success of our members and customers and all the independent pharmacy owners you touch.