Pharmacy in Small Town Wisconsin
Michelle Farrell’s pharmacy in Boscobel serves a community of just more than 3,000 people in southwest Wisconsin. Though the town has a small hospital, the pharmacy provides much needed services for the senior members of the community.
Nearly half the population of the town is above the age of 45. Since becoming an independent owner of Boscobel Pharmacy in 2006, Farrell has partnered with local organizations to help serve her rural community. And though this part of Wisconsin is not considered medically underserved by the state, Farrell provides her town with services for which they would otherwise have to travel.
“Being in Boscobel, being the only pharmacy within the community, I’ve got outstanding support from my local medical community as well as the patients,” Farrell said. She added that being in a town of more than 3,000 certainly creates challenges, but it’s great to know everyone and the providers in the area.
Collaborative practice agreements with local providers are just one of the things that have helped Boscobel Pharmacy find success in the community. In the last five to seven years, they have focused on medication synchronization, and utilization of Tech-Check-Tech to help elevate their ability to provide clinical services.
Farrell is also a member of Wisconsin Pharmacy Quality Collaborative and CPESN Wisconsin. She is using these memberships to actively get patients in for appointments, complete comprehensive medication reviews. The success of these services has her looking to expand what she offers through her pharmacy.
“Our number of immunizations has increased exponentially,” Farrell said. “We’ve started to delve into the non-vaccine injectable medication arena.”
She is also starting to look at diabetes care management and consultations. Services like this not only provide some much-needed access to care for patients, but also help to keep pharmacies established and profitable.
“We have a number of patients that are traveling to us because of the level of service that we provide,” Farrell said.
As some of her patients are homebound, the medication packaging service Farrell’s pharmacy provides allows these patients to remain independent.
“Those patients would have to drive almost an hour to receive those types of services unless they wanted to receive them by mail order,” Farrell said.
And though Farrell is finding success in the community and as an independent owner, one of her earliest challenges was learning how to run a business.
Farrell graduated from the University of Wisconsin-Madison pharmacy school in 2000 and says she was fortunate to get involved in professional organizations early on in her career. She was able to network with progressive independent pharmacists throughout the state and learn about many things school didn’t teach her.
Farrell said she worked closely with IPC and NCPA early in her career, which was a help. It made up for not learning as much about the business side of things.
Eventually, she bought into the pharmacy she was working with and became an independent owner.
“Thanks to guidance with NCPA I was able ultimately to execute the purchase of a pharmacy,” Farrell said. “I think as an owner you realize the challenges related to purchasing and insurance company reimbursement,” she said about the experience of becoming an owner.
Farrell found that it becomes essential to have partners that are experienced in the industry and can work with you to set your pharmacy up with niches that keep you in business.
“I think every pharmacy owner goes through the challenges early with going from staff pharmacist to owner pharmacist and learning the management skills necessary to take care of employees, complete the marketing for the pharmacy and all of those pieces,” Farrell said.
Utilizing IPC offerings was helpful. Staff management was not taught in pharmacy school. Having access to classes and organizations helped her to grow into her position as an owner.
“As a community pharmacist and a leader in general you always get more than you give,” Farrell said.
Farrell said, “IPC has been a stellar supporter of my pharmacy, but also the pharmacy profession in Wisconsin. It helps us stay ahead of the curve and to be able to continue to provide high level services to our patients.”
Among the items Farrell brings into her store from IPC are gift cards, kodak photo printing and the ability to order generics and brand name drugs at competitive prices, which she finds important to the success of her business.
“As a young owner I really appreciated IPC.” Farrell said. “They were extremely supportive with a grand opening after our expansion and doubling of size.”