|Notes from McKesson ideaShare 2011: A Health Mart Update||| Print ||
Chuck Wilson, VP of operations for Health Mart, grew up in a family that owned an independent pharmacy. He eventually got a pharmacy degree from the University of Iowa and then gained experience working in operations for several of the big chains, including a 13 year stint at Target during which time the pharmacy business grew from 114 to 1,400 locations and he studied the ins and outs of branding and running retail establishments. During McKesson's 2011 ideaShare, Wilson talked with ComputerTalk senior editor Will Lockwood about bringing the understanding, knowledge, and utilization of operational programs that he's developed over the years to Health Mart owners.
CT: Let's start off with hearing about some of the newest Health Mart programs.
Wilson: One of the programs creating quite a bit of buzz out there is our new private label. Before we had Sunmark as our only private label. This is a broad, comprehensive offering for a retail pharmacy and covers all the categories with a nice assortment. But it didn't have anything specific to bring customers back to that independent store. In fact, you can go to any of our wholesale customers' stores, including regional chains, and buy Sunmark. As a result, our Health Mart owners have been asking for something like that but exclusively for Health Mart. We had to get to a certain scale before we could afford to run two different private labels out of McKesson, but we are there now. I think we have a compelling look and feel and this is all part of us now offering a way to help direct customers back to Health Mart stores.
Another new program that owners are excited about is our Health Mart® Physician Outreachsm Program. It helps pharmacies easily identify and market to local prescribers to build valuable relationships. Using a simple online search engine, pharmacies can select prescribers, understand their script volume and then create effective marketing with personalized materials that help communicate the right messages. It's really a unique solution.
CT: What do you think the level of awareness is for most pharmacists when it comes to knowing the doctors in their area, their specialties, and how many scripts they write?
Wilson: Anecdotally they know. But it's different to be able to sit down and analyze the situation with real data. Some owners may find out that they don't have prescriptions coming in from some of the heaviest writers in their area or find new prescribers they didn't know about. Consider how valuable this information is when we match that up with the reporting from their McKesson pharmacy system on the number of scripts they filled for a doctor and see how it changes over time. Once they have this information, owners can go out and try to develop relationships with any busy physicians and clinics from which they aren't seeing many scripts. Another highlight of this service is that it also gives them access to DEA and NPI numbers, too.
CT: What else is new for Health Mart?
Wilson: Another thing that gets me excited is that we've relaunched our operations manual. It used to be in a binder and it got dated and dusty. Now it's online, so it is always up to date and easy to search. We made this change in order to give pharmacies information to be successful right when they need it. We are also leveraging our call center now by launching a toll-free number. That's another way for pharmacies to get instant access to information.
CT: I understand there's a new peer-to-peer network available to McKesson customers as well.
Wilson: That's right. This is our Connect Community, which isn't specific to Health Mart, but it does give our pharmacies access to each other. They can post questions: "Has anybody tried this?" "What advice is there on what I'm thinking about?" And they can ask these questions in a closed community where they can get trusted answers. I think this will be a real success, because Health Mart owners are truly dedicated to the success of Health Mart and to the success of the profession, in addition to their own pharmacy's success. When they have an idea or advice they can give, they are perfectly happy to share it with someone else. This is what Connect Community will facilitate.
CT: Where is technology coming into play for the marketing support you offer to Health Mart pharmacies?
Wilson: We've been revamping the marketing materials we're making available, and we're making these accessible through a single sign on through Connect. This is a simple change, but we think it's going to be a big one. We'd found that pharmacists were having trouble managing multiple log-ins and passwords.
CT: Don't we all. So now they'll go to one spot for Health Mart marketing support, peer advice, and other offerings?
Wilson: Yes. This will help them track the matching funds we provide for marketing, which I think will help encourage them to do more.
Another thing we've done is to revamp our Health Mart University materials to make it easier to train pharmacy team members. Now owners can access learning plans organized by team member role. We have items that target regulatory compliance. So if they have to do their annual HIPAA update or do fraud, waste, and abuse, or Methguard training, it's all incorporated. We also have a nice certification training study guide for new technicians, which is comprehensive and that we've found increases the pass rate dramatically for technicians who are given the time to use it. We'd found that a lot of our owners didn't know this existed and were out buying materials to meet these needs. We want to make sure they know that it's all right there for them.
CT: What do you see as the most critical service offered to entrepreneurially minded Health Mart pharmacists?
Wilson: Although this isn't something exclusive to Health Mart, I'd have to say it's McKesson's sponsored clinical services. There is a growing body of research that demonstrates that when pharmacists are engaged and are well trained on how to interact with their patients, compliance and prescription fill rates go up. This is good for pharmacists and for patients, and it positions pharmacists as important care providers as the healthcare system continues to evolve. Sponsored clinical services are just part of the trend towards MTM and the medical home. We know that drug spend is the best way to keep people healthy, and if we can make the outcomes more successful then you can bring the overall spend down. So ultimately these services become a way to reduce the overall financial burden of healthcare.
Wilson: Well, imagine that owners are implementing patient-focused sponsored clinical services and are also taking advantage of the prescriber outreach program we talked about earlier. This gives them the ability to establish relationships, both with patients and with providers, which will put them in the right position when these medical home or accountable care organizations start to pick up steam. Owners have already started building their network to be part of these models and may even have already established a collaborative care agreement with physicians.
CT: These are ways to prepare your pharmacy practice now for what the future may hold, then?
Wilson: Yes. This is a way to be ready for these changes.