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.

Tell us what your pharmacy does that mega-chains don't do | NCPA Executive Update | June 29, 2018

by NCPA | Jun 29, 2018

Dear Colleague,

Doug Hoey

One of the things I enjoy most at professional gatherings like the NCPA Annual Convention, or really anytime, is shop talk with fellow pharmacists. There's always lively conversation, and eventually the talk turns to the reasons we still are passionate about our profession.

For many pharmacy owners, it's the autonomy, the ability to make the rules, not following directives sent from some distant corporate office. Usually that goes hand-in-hand with patient care. In these conversations, I find that independents make rules that favor the patient every time, occasionally even to their own detriment.

I recently spoke with a pharmacist who told me about his first job out of pharmacy school, working for one of the mega-chains. He was enthusiastic and anxious to work with patients, to help them deal with their health issues. On his second day, after talking with a patient, his supervisor took him aside. "We don't do that," she said. He was confused, wondering what he'd done wrong. She noted the look on his face. "Talking to the patients like that," she said. "We don't have time for that."

In that moment, his dreams were dashed. He'd become a pharmacist to help people. His own father had died young of heart disease that he didn't understand how to manage. He felt he owed it to his father's memory to help his patients as much as possible. How could he do that if he didn't TALK to them?

Lucky for him and the patients he serves, he found community pharmacy. And he's doing pharmacy his way, offering services that his chain competitors don't.

Another owner told me that when he leaves the pharmacy each day, he always takes a prescription or two along to deliver on the way home. Often, they are deliveries to longtime customers, elderly folks who need their medications right away. And, prudent for business or not, he doesn't even charge for his service. He does it because he wants to. He feels a connection to these patients and he wants to help them as best he can.

And another owner says that in his small town, the police know him and his services so well, they call him if someone needs medication in the middle of the night. He doesn't want his patients to have to drive to a 24-hour pharmacy some 30 miles away, so community residents call the police if they need something from the pharmacy during off-hours.

These ideas aren't one-size-fits-all ideas, made by a corporate office and applied to every store in the country. They are things these pharmacists do because they want to, because they've decided that it works for them. They didn't have to wade through corporate red tape; to run it by a corporate office; they just do it, because they care about their patients. They get to make decisions that work for them and for their patients. They can respond to their community's needs. After all, what works in Los Angeles might not work in Lansing, Lincoln, or Lakeland and vice versa.

Especially in light of the recent news that CVS will offer one- to two- day (longer on the weekend) delivery for $4.99, can you imagine a chain pharmacy offering to deliver a prescription on the way home, for free – sometimes by the very owner of the pharmacy!?

Community pharmacy owners make their own decisions. Here's a great video that tells just one story about how a pharmacy can thrive when an owner sets her own rules.

We know there are other stories like this one – stories the chains can't tell – and we want to feature them in an upcoming issue of America's Pharmacist®.

Do you have a story that defines community pharmacy? A story you'll never hear from a chain? Please share it with us in a short email (150 words or less) by Monday, July 2. And if you haven't already, register now for Convention so you can share your stories in person.

Doug Hoey

P. S. Executive Update is taking a break for the Independence Day holiday week. We'll see you back here on July 13. Have a safe and enjoyable holiday.