Over the past several months, we’ve been writing about business transformation and sharing examples of what it looks like at different pharmacies.
Recently, RxSafe sponsored a roundtable discussion of pharmacy owners at IPA – California, which focused on their experience, as well as a brief presentation by RxSafe’s “guru” of Business Transformation, Matt Gilbert.
Our esteemed panelists were:
- Parth Parikh, Pharmacist and Owner, Pico Care Pharmacy
- Imad Karaze, Pharmacist and Owner, Beaumont Pharmacy
- Nilesh Patolia, Pharmacist and Owner, AUM Pharmacy
- Matt Gilbert, Business Transformation Manager, RxSafe
What follows is a brief transcript of the discussion, including audience questions, which were answered by our panelists.
The discussion was kicked off by William Holmes, Founder and CEO of RxSafe.
Why Does Medication Adherence Matter?
William Holmes: We’re all here are to do one thing: improve the health of our patients. That’s why you went into pharmacy. And being independent, you have to believe you can do a better job improving health outcomes than CVS or Amazon PillPack.
And in terms of improving patient care, it’s all about medication adherence. Pharmacy owners know that better than anyone. Non-adherence is the biggest obstacle to your patients feeling better. And who’s the Number One problem with patient adherence? Go ahead, you know the answer. It’s the patients themselves.
We need to assist patients in taking their medications correctly. And we need to do that in the most helpful, cost-effective, and repeatable way, so that they will become successful at taking their medications properly, and remain successful.
Today, we have brought together this esteemed group of your peers to explore how they have transformed their pharmacy practices by improving patient adherence, by opening up their business to new markets such as home health, assisted living and long-term care institutions.
And now I’m going to turn it over to Matt Gilbert, who will give you a brief overview of our program, before we begin the Q&A with your colleagues and pharmacy owners who are transforming their businesses with the RapidPakRx.
Matthew Gilbert: Thank you Bill and thanks everybody from IPA for having me, and it’s good to see Parth and Imad, and some of the other folks that I’ve worked with there.
I came to RxSafe with a background and independent pharmacy, having been in the space for about 20 years altogether. I ran two very successful pharmacies, both independent, in Connecticut for about 15 of those years combined. During that time, I did marketing, sales, contract negotiation, day-to-day operations for those pharmacies, and dealt with a lot of facilities. That gave me a really good opportunity to take that forward with RxSafe and through some of the other places that I’ve worked in the pharmacy technology space. So I really appreciate and have a good understanding for compliance packaging and especially pouch packaging.
My group’s whole goal is to make pharmacies that purchase our automation more successful and, in turn, make their patients healthier – that’s really the crux of the business transformation program.
We do that in a few different ways, and Parth and Imad can speak to this later, but let me give you a high level view of that.
What is RxSafe’s Business Transformation Program?
Matthew Gilbert: Essentially it's a three to four month program and we break it into a few different segments.
The first phase of the first month or so of the program is really focused on converting your existing patients over the pouch packaging. If you have a medicine clan in place already, that's great; we take a lot of those patients transition them over. If they're on card systems like Dispill, l MOT, single or multi dose blister cards, we like to transition those patients over first, to give you a good feel for the machine and take that ‘low hanging fruit’ from your existing patient base and get them moved over to some of our strip packaging boxes.
Speaking of boxes, our marketing team can put together some custom adherence packaging boxes with your branding on the outside of that box. That's the best advertising money you can ever spend. Getting those boxes with your logo into the homes of your existing patients really helps grow your business organically by improving word-of-mouth marketing.
So the first phase is converting your existing patients. We have a few different mechanisms to do that. It's built into one of the software platforms that we use, so it runs independently of your pharmacy software, very easy to manage. You can send messages through SMS or you can email your existing patient population base.
The second phase typically starts in month two. We place targeted Facebook and Google advertisements in front of your local community, based on your preferred demographics.
The data that Facebook and Google can provide – which you already know if you've done any marketing through them before – it’s just incredible. So what we do is we place targeted ads that we constantly transition and we're finding what works best in your area, and giving prospects an ad that they're going to click on that brings them to a landing page where they request more information on pouch packaging and your pharmacy.
The whole goal of this process is moving that patient over to you as new business through pouch packaging, and also bringing along their OTC supplements, vitamins and anything else they may be purchasing outside of their pharmacy, and trying to bring them into your store as new business.
All that ad spend is covered by us. This entire program is covered by RxSafe with the purchase of a RapidPakRx, so there's no additional charges, no fees, no upsells or anything like that; it's all part of the package.
The third piece, and I would say the most intense piece, is we actually will target and analyze local facility business for you.
‘Boots-on-the-Ground’ Marketing in Your Area
Matthew Gilbert: How this works is a member of my team will take a look at the local facility opportunities in your area, and if you give us a 40-mile area we'll look at everything in that area; if it’s a 2-mile area, we do the same thing. We look at skilled nursing facilities (SNFs), assisted living, group homes, corrections, adult day care, hospice, and home health, primarily. We've also worked on some meds-to-beds programs with local hospitals. Some other settings include drug detox facilities and the like. We really take a high level view of everything that's available and then see what you service now, what you're comfortable with, what you may already be servicing through your store and start whittling down the list.
The ultimate goal is setting appointments with those facilities and physically coming out there and going to those meetings with you. Typically over a two- to three-day stretch, each day we're going to meet with between 20 and 25 facilities on average. They could be as small as a 6-bed group home in a neighborhood setting, up to a 900-bed SNF or correctional facility. But the point of all these meetings is to use pouch packaging as a ‘foot in the door’ and a catalyst to get that conversation moving. It’s not uncommon to have a pharmacy owner pick up 40 to 50 or even more than 100 new patients as a results of those conversations.
Peer-Group Meetings a Big Help to Participants
Matthew Gilbert: Parth and Imad can speak to this, but we do like to stay in good contact with the pharmacies who are part of our business transformation groups.
The tone setter, for each group is the meeting that kicks off eight week program, where pharmacy owners meet for a half hour once a week. It’s a scheduled Zoom meeting where we're have your pharmacy, if you purchase a RapidPakRx, on the call with five or six other stores that are all going through a similar experience.
So the ancillary benefit that comes from these groups is you’re getting input and ideas from all around the country, and you’re also getting perspectives from all different practice settings, whether it's a pharmacy that specializes in compounding or nutraceuticals, or maybe they're brand new pharmacy that just opened up and you're giving them ideas. So that group benefit that you get from participating is really helpful and advantageous for everyone involved.
We start a new group and every month, and it's a constantly evolving calendar, so we're adding new pharmacies every month to that program and inviting them to go through that with their peers. So again, that coaching and support aspect of everything is something that we really take to heart. As you know my background is completely in independent pharmacy, and serving you and keeping you guys viable. In the process, you keep RxSafe viable, and at the end of the day, your patients healthier and happier … that's really the whole goal of everything.
How does adherence packaging improve patient adherence?
Parth Parikh: So this is just my personal experience, when medications are packaged into any sort of adherence packaging, and pouch packaging particularly, we have seen patients be more compliant. We actually force people to become compliant.
I actually started off as a Dispill pharmacy. I had a certain patient on Dispill who would refill about every 40 days on what was supposed to be a monthly supply. I had sort of lost hope that she would ever be compliant. But when we moved her to pouch packaging, I was shocked to find they she was finally refilling every 30 days.
So it really does work in terms of chronically non-adherent patients. Plus, it also helps with our Star ratings, so there are multiple benefits to it.
What do patients and their families say about the packaging?
Nilesh Patolia: So once they’ve been on vials and they switch over to packaging, you start to wonder how they ever did it themselves when they were on 12-15 medications. With packaging, managing it just becomes a lot more seamless, it makes life a lot easier, especially nowadays, when you have all these kids that are helping their parents who are aging. With the packaging, now the kids are out of the picture.
Before packaging, we had some parents who had their children coming into the pharmacy every two or three days to keep their mom or dad supplied with all the medication. And now the kids are not missing so much sleep from this. They know their parents are not taking an extra dose, or dropping pills or skipping a dose. The families are definitely a lot happier, because they know their parents are getting the proper medications that they need every day. It’s just a lot easier to manage. Even with Dispill, the cards take up so much space. Sometimes they have like 8 or 9 different blister packets, and they’re like, ‘Where do I put all this?’.
With the box, it’s all rolled up, so they can keep it in their kitchen or their bedroom. Little things like that make it a much better patient experience.
Imad Karaze: I have an 89-year old patient who is now on the strip packaging. Her daughter lives in San Francisco and comes to visit every few months. Once we started her mother on the packaging, she is much more at ease now, because her mom was having so much trouble before, remembering which medicines to take. Now she knows her mother is taking them correctly.
I also started with Dispill. When I bought the RapidPakRx, I transferred all my patients to the new system. I was hesitant about it at the beginning, but I once I actually saw it and started working with it, it made more sense. The Dispill cards were just taking too much time to fill and inspect. The RapidPakRx is much more efficient.
Have you been able to grow your supplements business by offering to package vitamins for your patients?
Imad Karaze: We package a lot of supplements along with the medications, and I have a couple of patients that we only pack supplements for them. Some of them are taking 6 or 7 supplements a day, and of course, I make them buy the supplements through our store. A lot of our patients who are taking supplements and they have nutrient depletion, so we package vitamins right along with their prescriptions.
Parth Parikh: For my vitamin business, I actually started with a Covid Pack, sold over the counter. It was just 4-5 supplements and people could purchase a month’s supply. I sold them for about $20 each and made about $12-$15 margin on those packs. They were very popular.
If you would like to learn more about how the RapidPakRx can help transform your pharmacy team spend less time packaging and more time with patients, please visit our website, or call one of our adherence experts at (866) 393-3944.