NCPA Executive Update

NCPA Executive Update delivers insights on legislative, regulatory, policy, and industry developments from NCPA CEO B. Douglas Hoey, Pharmacist, MBA, to NCPA members and pharmacy leaders every other Friday.

Do You Hear the Entrepreneurial Buzz? | NCPA Executive Update | March 18, 2016

by NCPA | Mar 18, 2016

Dear Colleague,

Doug Hoey

I know spring is here (officially this weekend) because winter's snow has melted, and I finally started receiving regular mail service (recall that I went almost two weeks without mail at my suburban home as described in the Feb. 5 Executive Update, "Mail Order Pharmacy Survival Guide".

I can't say for sure if the spring weather has unthawed any lost mail order prescriptions that had been shipped to consumers. What I can say is that the spring weather means that NCPA is hosting nearly 90 pharmacy owners at its offices just outside of Washington D.C.

This is one of my favorite meetings of the year, because while there is an acknowledgement of the problems in our profession, the entrepreneurial buzz to work through and around the challenges is deafening. These owners are in town to serve on seven working committees that help define the action the NCPA team takes on in behalf of independently owned pharmacies.

The committees are made up of some of the best and brightest pharmacists in the country. And come from nearly 30 states, so chances are you know them or know of them. There's a good chance they are your friends, neighbors, and peers. They own a variety of different types of pharmacies whether it be long-term care, compounding, specialty, or traditional retail, or have a growing business as a care coordinator (more on that later).

The committees these pharmacists serve on are:

  • Compounding Committee

  • Emerging Models Committee

  • Long-Term Care Committee

  • Management Committee

  • State Legislation Committee

  • National Legislation Committee

  • Technology Committee

All of the committee members at one time or another talked about the major payment pain points they are feeling—in particular those by DIR fees and low and slow MAC payments. However, they focused their attention on finding solutions to mitigate the impact of the lower payments. For example, one of the topics discussed by the Emerging Models Committee, was care coordination. This wasn't some theoretical mumbo jumbo. No, this discussion was about community pharmacists partnering with other health care providers to manage the health of their patient population.

As one example, the committee discussed patient population groups with special needs that are falling through the cracks. Nimble independent pharmacies are like first responders who see the needs of these patients and figure out a way to help them long before they hit the radar of bigger players who are often not agile or willing to help these patients anyway.

Health care payment reform is changing how pharmacies get paid. Medication expertise is unique. Brick and mortar patient access to a health care provider an average of 55 hours a week is unique. The relationships and trust that community pharmacists have is unique. Put all of those unique attributes together and a powerful, valuable package is created—that no other health care provider has and every health care payer, who is also undergoing payment reform, wants.

The key is putting all of those unique attributes together. It's happening on a small scale right now, and members of the Emerging Models committee contributed their expertise to help other pharmacies with these unique attributes come together.

Also meeting yesterday and today is an NCPA Membership Task Force. As a member-driven organization, NCPA wants its members to not only perceive value, but to actually realize value.

Tangible programs that add dollars to an owner's bottom line like an average savings of $1,500 annually in credit card fees, or advocacy work that prevented the pain of billions of dollars in cuts and preserved patient access to pharmacy choice, have driven value to NCPA members—yet not all pharmacy owners are NCPA members. The Membership Task Force is charged with helping ALL pharmacy owners benefit from NCPA member value.

The committees have planted the seeds a couple of days before spring arrives. Those seeds will blossom in October during NCPA's Annual Convention.


Doug Hoey