Hashim Zaibak, Pharm.D., has built Hayat Pharmacy into an 11-location chain in the Milwaukee area, with a focus on improving adherence and patient outcomes in underserved communities, including those with recent immigrants who are often not very familiar with the U.S. healthcare system and pharmacy services. One way Zaibak has done this is to combine a strong delivery program with TCGRx’s AdherePac™ packaging, produced by the ATP® system. Hayat Pharmacy is now also using TCGRx’s blister filling solution, SmartCardRx™. Find out why Zaibak has adherence packaging playing a central role, and his thoughts on the Amazon-PillPack acquisition.
ComputerTalk: Hashim, you’ve built a chain pharmacy from scratch starting in 2011. That’s quite a feat. How did it happen?
Hashim Zaibak: I was looking to move on from working at a major chain in 2011 when I was approached by a group of independent physicians that had built a brand-new building with a clinic in it. They wanted to put an independent pharmacy inside. I was very interested and did my homework, including attending one of NCPA’s [National Community Pharmacists Association’s] ownership workshops and traveling to Chicago to talk to some of the people who own pharmacies there.
Keep in mind that we didn’t start with the idea of becoming a chain. We started the business with that single pharmacy inside the clinic, but our success there led me to look to build the current pharmacy group.
The Details: Hayat Pharmacy
CT: Walk us through your adherence program. Why did you start building it, and what are the key elements?
Zaibak: We started out with a medication synchronization program called Simplify My Meds. We work with a lot of underserved communities, including many new immigrants who lack some of the basic information about why it’s important to be adherent to their medications. Right there, we saw a real need to help our patients, and med sync is the start of removing the barrier of having prescriptions filled throughout the month, requiring them to make multiple trips in to see us.
CT: And how does the adherence packaging element come in?
Zaibak: Once we’re filling a patient’s prescriptions all at once, taking the multiple vials out of the equation can be a big help for many people. We started by offering the strip packaging from TCGRx’s ATP, and we’ve since added in their new SmartCardRx blister filling solution. We’re finding that some retail patients do in fact prefer the blister cards we fill with SmartCardRx, and we’ve recently started to work with some smaller group homes that prefer the blister cards, too.
CT: You’ve made one of your locations your adherence packaging center, right? How did you decide on this?
Zaibak: Yes, we chose to put both the ATP and SmartCardRx in one location, which is centrally located, and offer patients the option of having their prescriptions delivered if that pharmacy isn’t their preferred location and they aren’t able to get in to pick them up.
I’ll note that there are a couple of things we find are important to make this model work. First, you need to have a pharmacy management system with strong chain functionality, so that it’s easy to transfer a patient’s prescriptions to the location with the adherence packaging. This is something we find PioneerRx makes very easy for us.
Second, make sure you have enough space in the location you choose. You need to accommodate the footprint of the automation or packaging station, and you need to have the space to allow for the packaging workflow.
CT: It sounds as if delivery plays an important role, too.
Zaibak: It does. Today we have 10 full-time drivers, and a good percentage of our business is delivered. We’re building adherence through med sync with packaging, and we can’t have that break down by making it hard for our patients to actually get the prescriptions that we’re filling for them because, for instance, they lack good transportation options. Delivering prescriptions packaged in these formats is another way for us to remove any barriers to providing the best outcomes for our patients.
CT: Let’s turn to a very current topic, briefly. It seems as if Amazon sees a lot of potential in the packaging model.
Zaibak: PillPack is definitely a very similar concept. What this says to me is that we made a good decision getting into adherence packaging a couple of years ago. Amazon’s announcement has made me even more comfortable that we’ve made the right decision. CT