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Special meeting in Washington DC to advocate for independent pharmacies, HME/DME providers, and small business
Special meeting in  Washington DC to advocate for independent pharmacies, HME/DME providers, and small business

Author: Pam Wedow, IMCO Home Care

We are excited to share with you that one of the EBS clients, was invited to participate in a very special meeting in Washington DC to advocate for small business, independent pharmacy, and the HME industry.

Dudley Hoskins Bostic, and her sister, Mollie Hoskins Scarbrough are owners of Hoskins Drug Store in Clinton, TN.  Hoskins Drug Store was invited to the White House to meet with Vice President Pence, Secretary Price, and SBA Administrator Linda McMahon, Kellyanne Conway, and CMS Administrator Seema Verma regarding the ACA and its impact on small business.  Their meeting took place on Monday, June 5th.

During the visit Dudley, whom spoke on the behalf of Hoskins Drug Store, highlighted their concern with competitive bidding and how it has adversely affected their business, as well as the access to care for their patients.  Hoskins Drug Store is a contract supplier for the Knoxville, TN CBA.  They won the contract for many of the competitive bid categories, however did not win the bid for oxygen equipment, which they had been servicing for their community residents for many years.  "They don't want multiple providers in and out of their homes-it's supposed to be a calming time for them, not a revolving door,"  Dudley states.  "They need everything, I can do beds and support surfaces, but I can't do oxygen.  What goes with oxygen, but a bed?  It make no good sense."

While discussing "cost savings" options, Dudley mentioned the need and desire to eliminate the audits and implement a prior authorization process for items over $150.  Dudley stated that Secretary Price and CMS Administrator, Seema Verma seemed to like the idea as they began jotting down notes as she spoke.  She also referenced cost saving ideas of including pharmacists as a part of the healthcare team, allowing them to treat patient's with standard cough and colds, as well as treatment and education of patients with diabetes and asthma.  Allowing pharmacists to participate in treating these patient's would eliminate excessive ER visits for routine care.

Dudley spoke about the low reimbursements that are being paid for many of the products and services.  Providers simply can not continue to dispense product/prescriptions, while being paid below their cost of goods.

During the roundtable discussion, Bostic says she told Price and Verma that Hoskins Drug Store's two priorities are getting pharmacists recognized as healthcare providers and securing reimbursements that goes along with that; and repealing and replacing the competitive bidding program.  "He pointed his finger (referring to Price) and said, "Yes ma'am," she said.

A special thanks to Dudley Hoskins Bostic, and her sister and co-owner Mollie Hoskins Scarbrough RPh, and daughter Mollie M Farrar, for stepping out to make a difference their community and for seizing the opportunity to shed light on the struggles in our industry has been facing and proposing real life solutions.

As an Independent Pharmacy, how can I create "Stickiness" with my customers?
As an Independent Pharmacy, how can I create

I wanted to share a few cool and creative ways some of our independent pharmacy accounts have created a truly unique store experience for the patients that they serve:

I love this idea! (pictured above) Many pharmacies are trying to return their image to the "old corner drug store" and take their customers on a trip back in time to the 1950's when soda fountains and malt shops where a common occurrence at the neighborhood drug store. Who wouldn't like to enjoy an old fashioned banana split while they wait on their prescriptions to be filled?

Rifles, Ammo, and Knives

               ... IN A PHARMACY?

When I walked into this customer for the first time, I took a double take.  But then, as I looked at the amount of folks in there browsing the selection of hunting and fishing merchandise - it hit me. This customer is a genius! Sure, they had the normal gift store offerings as well that most pharmacies offer, but they created a "Cabelas" type experience to help differentiate their store from their competitors. If you are an outdoor enthusiast and live in their area, I can bet this is where you go to get your prescriptions filled.

The $10 Billion Dollar Question . . . How can your company expand into the Home Care Market?
The $10 Billion Dollar Question . . . How can your company expand into the Home Care Market?

Wherever I travel lately, everyone wants to talk to me about the Home Care Market. Manufacturers and Distributors alike are very interested in this growing space that is currently exploding with opportunity.

Since this is such a hot topic of discussion, I thought I would take the opportunity to focus on the Home Care Market and cover the major questions that seem to be of key interest to companies wanting to enter or expand their current book of business in Home Care. In today's issue, let's start with the # 1 question I continually receive about the Home Care Market.

Question # 1

Who is the Home Care customer?

One of the main questions I get from manufacturers and distributors is they want to know who the customer actually is in the home care market. The majority of these companies today sell into the developed markets that have reached their maximum output - hospitals, physician offices, and long-term care facilities. These same companies understand that in order to thrive, they need to follow the patient as the care settings shift away from institutions and into the lower cost post-acute environment. It makes perfect sense - patients would much rather be in their homes anyway, AND it is cheaper to care for them there.

So ... who are the customers that exist in home care? There are several, and we will cover all of them over the next few issues, but for today let's focus on one everyone is familiar with - the corner drug store.

Independent Pharmacies

26,000 in the United States!

One of my favorite types of customers to work with are independent pharmacies. They pay their vendors extremely well and have a huge opportunity to market home health care products to their existing customer base. Just think about it, they have several hundred folks walking into their pharmacy every day to pick up their medications. These patients trust their pharmacist, and have already decided they would rather do business with a locally-owned company versus a national chain for their Rx needs. Logically, the same should hold true for medical supplies and equipment.

If the pharmacy offers their customers the convenience of a one-stop shop by carrying an assortment of retail priced home health care products, this will do two things: (1) create a new revenue stream for the pharmacy, (2) create "stickiness" between the pharmacy and the customer which protects their existing Rx business. If I were a family-owned pharmacy, I would hate for my customer to have to walk into a Wal-Mart or Walgreens to buy a cane or a pack of incontinence products. That creates an inconvenience - what I call a "point of friction" - between you and your customer allowing an opportunity for a competitor to steal them away.

Rule #1 - "If we don't take care of our customers, someone else will."This quote hangs on the wall right by the entrance to our customer service deparment, and it rings true here. If a customer can't see it - they don't know you have it. If they don't know you have it, they will have to buy it somewhere else. So, how do we ensure that your independent pharmacy doesn't lose business to a competitor?

This is where distributors and manufacturers come into the mix. Independent Pharmacies need advice on the types of product to stock in their store and help with developing a retail strategy to market these products to their patients. This includes creating the proper store layout to display these products and drive customer awareness through signage and retail displays that the pharmacy is a one stop shop for their families home healthcare needs. While I recommend utilizing our Patient Home Delivery (PHD) program for most other types of home care customers, it still makes sense for Independent Pharmacies to have product in-stock and displayed at their store due to the amount of foot traffic they have coming into their location on a daily basis.

The takeaway ... there are 26,000 opportunities to work with Independently owned pharmacies in the US. These folks need our help and services to go from only filling prescriptions to becoming a one stop shop provider for their communities healthcare supply needs. Let's help them grow their business, and in turn they will grow our business. So stop by your corner drug store this weekend and chat with them about home health care products . Worst case, you will make a new friend - and possibly get to enjoy a banana split!



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