Is Your Pharmacy a Leader or a Laggard?

By Kevin Schweers

With the year’s end fast approaching, it’s a natural time for reflection. In that spirit, here are some noteworthy pharmacy topics that you might have missed, but were covered at NCPA’s annual convention. A link to these presentations and others can be found at the end of this post.


You wouldn’t miss an annual physical, but are you as diligent in reviewing your pharmacy’s finances? That was the message of Dr. Richard A. Jackson of Mercer University’s College of Pharmacy and Health Sciences. He walked pharmacists through how they can use their balance sheets and the NCPA Digest, sponsored by Cardinal Health, to read between the tea leaves. Done right, his methodology enables pharmacists to identify trends and head off problems before they occur. Strive for a synergistic relationship to have a pharmacy that’s both a clinical and business success, he advised.

Retail Advice

“Presentation is everything,” Gabe Trahan told a packed roomful of pharmacists attending NCPA’s “How to Become an Exceptional Merchandiser” continuing education program.

In-store or window signs, for example, are an underutilized way to inform patients about a community pharmacy’s offerings or a product’s capabilities. “They don’t talk back. They’re not late. And they don’t need a ride home,” he quipped.

Trahan discussed dozens of strategies that independent community pharmacies are using to improve their business and compete against competition from big box stores. End cap arrangements, category positioning, price sticker placement, and seasonal merchandise were just some of the topics Trahan advised members about.

Take good notes and pictures of what works, he advised, so successful strategies can be recalled easily.

Technology: Pharmacy Robots, Phone Systems and More

Staff apprehension about new pharmacy technologies is often quickly overcome. That and other lessons emerged from a discussion led by Bill Osborn, RPh, of Miami, Oklahoma’s Osborn Drugs and Tim Davis, RPh, of Beaver Health Mart in Beaver, Pa.

While every pharmacy is different, robots are a valuable part of Osborn Drugs. Initially, the pharmacy’s employees were reluctant. When Bill considered naming the addition “Fred,” a staff member let him in on a secret. Robot opponents also referred to them as “F.R.E.D.,” only it stood for “Freaking Robot Everybody Despises.” Today, Bill suspects that same staff member would “probably try to tackle you if you tried to take [the robot] out.”

Davis said it’s not unusual for 10-15% of the day’s business to come in through a pharmacy’s interactive voice response (IVR) phone system. Patients appreciate the opportunity to order refills when it’s on their mind, even in the middle of the night. Osborn gives callers the option to “press one” for the automated system or to hold for a pharmacy staff member.

NCPA members have access to these and other great presentations by clicking here. Just look for the section marked 2009 Annual Convention CE Programming.

This post is part of NCPA’s expanded convention coverage. Longtime readers of The Dose may recall that we previously highlighted prescription drug disposal programs, niche services and offerings, and a health care reform discussion with former Senate Majority Leaders Tom Daschle and Bill Frist, among other topics. We’ll have one more post soon to conclude the 2009 convention series.

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