Niche Services Give Many Community Pharmacies the Edge

By Kevin Schweers

“Be willing to venture outside of your comfort zone,” ABC’s Robin Roberts advised during her recent speech to NCPA convention-goers. “Expand your business. Offer new services.”

Community pharmacists from Alabama, Florida, Oklahoma and Virginia have similar advice for their colleagues. Their presentations, summarized below, are available to NCPA members here – just look for the section marked 2009 Annual Convention CE Programming.

Bay Street Pharmacy initially offered diabetic testing supplies to satisfy those needs but soon realized that there was a much greater unmet need in the Sebastian, Fla. area, according to pharmacist and owner Theresa Tolle.

The pharmacy began to focus on patient education and expanded services. Tolle outlined for NCPA convention attendees how they can do the same to diversify their offerings. Now, 25% of Bay Street Pharmacy’s business is in durable medical equipment.

A vaccination program can meet an important community need while increasing revenue for your practice and sales of ancillary products, according to Justin Wilson, PharmD, of Valu-Med Pharmacy in Midwest City, OK. Start slow, such as with Influenza vaccinations, and then build toward growing fields such as travel health services, he advised.

Ronald Davis, RPh and President and CEO of Buford Road Pharmacy in Richmond, Va., says a wide array of opportunities exist for community pharmacists. From immunizations and MTM through Medicare Part D to cholesterol and blood glucose monitoring.

Terry Wingo, RPh, of Madison, Alabama, has been in community pharmacy for over 30 years. In 1985, he opened Madison Drugs and converted it to 100% compounding and natural products in 2000. Now, he encourages other community pharmacists to consider it as they look to differentiate themselves from Big Box and mail-order pharmacies.

Why? He argues that patients are seeking alternatives to traditional health care and respond to providers focused on patient education rather than product sales. In addition, community pharmacists are already trusted by patients and practitioners.

NCPA members can access these presentations and others here.

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