Nimesh Jhaveri, M.B.A., R.Ph., is the newly named president at Health Mart and senior vice president at McKesson. He brings a wealth of experience from a wide-ranging career in pharmacy to his new role, and a real passion for ensuring that Health Mart is a resource for success at independent pharmacies. In this interview, Jhaveri discusses what he’s been hearing from pharmacies as he dives into his work at Health Mart, the challenges and opportunities in pharmacy right now, and what has him excited about the future of the profession.
ComputerTalk: You’ve been out on a listening tour, learning and listening to hear. What have you been hearing from Health Mart pharmacies? What have they been saying to you when you meet them?
Nimesh Jhaveri: So, the first thing that they say is, “Help me stay competitive, help me ensure that I’m in business for a long, long time, so I can take care of my patients.” And in many instances, they’re taking care of multiple generations of patients. They have relationships, and they have the trust of families and they want to continue to take care of them.
The industry of healthcare and the industry of pharmacy are going through massive changes right now. And they want to know, what role do they play in that change? How do they compete in that environment of change? How do they play in the new world of lower reimbursements and margin compression? Those are the real questions they are asking.
CT: When you hear these things, what are your thoughts in terms of what Health Mart offers now and could be offering in the near future?
Jhaveri: We have tools in place that actually help them answer a lot of these questions. And our conversations can help make sure that Health Mart pharmacies are taking advantage of all of the tools that are available.
We have an entire suite of tools to help them manage their business better, and it’s called MyHealthMart. This is a digital dashboard that gives them a view into a wide range of key metrics, including performance on adherence, their scores from the EQuIPP platform, and their profit and loss on reimbursements. The dashboard helps them understand what they can do to address the issues they’re facing. So we give them a tool set to do that.
In addition to MyHealthMart, most Health Mart owners are also part of our Health Mart Atlas PSAO [pharmacy services administrative organization]. This gives them access to resources from the Health Mart Atlas support center that can help them address any concerns about reimbursement. Through Health Mart Atlas we have a support team that can answer questions for them and that can also talk to the PBM or the payer on their behalf to ensure that they are remunerated appropriately for the services they provide.
Third, we have a team of franchise directors in the field working day to day with these owners, helping them understand their business, helping them manage their business better, helping them answer questions on anything in the pharmacy space.
And then lastly, we have great education tools in the town halls we run, where we invite their peers and other experts in the industry to give them guidance, give them information, help them get educated on some of the new laws or new regulations, and talk about the new services that are coming and how they can engage.
There are many tools we provide to independent pharmacies and owners. Many times it is a matter of education for them, because look, not only are they clinicians, but they’re also business owners, and they may not have had time to learn about all of these tools. But we want to ensure that the resources are there so that at the right time, we can say, “Hey, look, we have this available, let us show you how it works and how you can take advantage of it.”
CT: That element of education is incredibly important. It’s still a challenge to implement every tool and program from which a pharmacy can benefit and to execute on a consistent basis. How can pharmacies prioritize?
Jhaveri: That is the question. You have all these tools and services that are available to you through Mckesson and through Health Mart — then we can help figure out which ones make sense for you to use and help overcome any issues that may be keeping you from getting started.
CT: Can we hear more about the dashboard? What data is available to a pharmacy there?
Jhaveri: The idea is to curate information and present it to the pharmacy in an actionable way. We’ve created a marketplace of tools that the pharmacy can use to solve specific issues it’s facing. The pharmacy can get actionable data in the dashboard that can help to address both the front end and the pharmacy.
We’ve tried to provide the resources and information that a pharmacy needs to manage its business and allow it to choose what’s most helpful for the business. We understand that a pharmacy isn’t going to want to do everything exactly the same as 4,999 other stores. We don’t ever want to take the independent out of independent pharmacy.
CT: Can we talk about reimbursements? That’s one of the central issues for pharmacies. What can independent pharmacies expect Health Mart to be doing to help?
Jhaveri: I think that is the elephant in the room, right? Reimbursement from health plans and PBMs is a challenge across the board, regardless of whether you’re an independent or a big chain. We have the Health Mart Atlas PSAO as part of McKesson, and we at Health Mart work very closely with their leadership. We are making sure that we represent the independent pharmacy. We’re going to do our best to make sure that Health Mart Atlas is offering services that are viable for the independent business. That’s the first order of business. Second, we’re continuing to work with the trade associations, whether that’s NCPA [National Community Pharmacists Association] or NACDS [National Association of Chain Drug Stores], to ensure that the leaders in the political arena also understand the challenges around cost transparency, terms of reimbursement, and what it looks like when the claims remittance statement hits a store.
Let me give you a specific example. While we’re trying to solve the issue of DIR fees and clawbacks for the long term, we still have to do things that will help pharmacy in the short term. So we are looking to drive performance metrics so that pharmacies are reimbursed at higher rates and are receiving performance-based bonus payments based on outcomes. My entire career has been based on the idea that we need to ensure that we can address today’s environment and then continue to drive toward a better environment and the future.
CT: Who do you think independents can look to learn from?
Jhaveri: There are many, many successful independent pharmacy owners, and so I think that looking to learn from each other is really the first step. As I mentioned, Health Mart holds town halls around the country, and the core of these meetings is the peer-to-peer communication and best-practice exchanges. But independents can also look at and learn from what chains and other large operators are doing, too. Walgreens and CVS are both doing well at bringing digital assets into healthcare and pharmacy practice. We can learn from that and decide how it applies within independent pharmacy. We should make sure that independents are equipped with the best digital tools available so that they can provide the best experience for the patient.
My dad used to always tell me to take the best of everyone that you meet and you’ll create a better you, and I think that’s the kind of thing that we should be doing in independent pharmacy: Take the best of everything that’s happening at any pharmacy out there to make a better independent experience.
CT: What about Amazon? That’s in very early stages, but we have to pay attention, right?
Jhaveri: Absolutely. We can learn something from Amazon. We can look at its supply chain excellence, at its expertise in pricing, and its ability to really drive market share. Amazon is also very good at taking prudent risks, of testing an idea and, if it doesn’t work, scrap it. I think that’s where we can really learn from them. We can learn to take that same approach to testing out ideas. We shouldn’t get stuck in legacy thinking.
CT: What would you change right now, if you could — other than reimbursements?
Jhaveri: Well, I think we have a great opportunity to do something big with independent pharmacy. But I will tell you one thing that frustrates me is when we in pharmacy — chains, independents, hospitals, and everyone else — all act individually when it comes to changing regulations that are changing the environment. I believe we have to learn to speak with one voice that’s good for pharmacy practice. I say I’m frustrated, but really I get excited when I think about bringing all of the voices together so that we can show what pharmacists can do. Together, we can change healthcare. I’m excited about that. It needs to happen.