Through the years we have seen industries and social groups band together seeking a common goal or objective, ultimately achieving success and progress. Why? Because there is strength in numbers. Alone, we face challenges limited by our resources and capabilities, but together we have a voice, a loud voice, and invite change that takes us far into the future.

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The number of independent pharmacies across the United States still outweighs the number of CVS and Walgreens pharmacies combined. The truth is, as long as independently owned pharmacies continue to reinvent themselves, our future is bright and more than sustainable. Year after year pharmacies face different demands from PBMs (pharmacy benefit managers) and third-party payers, requiring them to devise a different approach to running their businesses in order to remain profitable. While change and adaptation have always been an important part of any successful business, now more than ever, change is critical. As a software company that provides solutions for independent pharmacy, Datascan is at the forefront of change. The improvements in Datascan’s pharmacy software help its clients watch carefully over reimbursements, estimate DIR (direct and indirect remuneration) fees, and build star ratings and adherence with patients, all while helping automate so many of the day-to-day operations within a pharmacy. This allows the owner(s) to accomplish more, without requiring more staff. The system is fully customizable, so it can grow and help to organize pharmacy operations as the pharmacy grows. Pharmacy benefit managers are a direct cause of dwindling profits; however, a shift in healthcare recognizing pharmacists as healthcare providers has resulted in the need for better point-of-care services. Datascan continues to reinvent its software and its capabilities, including integration with CPESN and the ability to participate in an eCare plan for patients, as well as integrate medication adherence building tools. At least once or twice a year, you should evaluate your business and your pharmacy’s daily workflow and look to find places to reinvent your business. Sharing ideas with other independents allows everyone to thrive, stay in business, and be strong, to band together to fight the chains and PBMs and to stop them from ultimately putting you out of business.

As Datascan builds and improves upon its businesses it becomes a part of the pharmacy revolution. Instead of meeting new demands and challenges with dismay and discouragement, when we hit them head on with valor and strength, we help bring about change and improvement. Throughout time and history, we have seen what fighting for something important can do for a cause, a person, an industry or a business. History has shown that together we can fight for change, and the fight for independent pharmacy is no different. The time for independent pharmacy is now, and it’s important for pharmacy owners to realize they can’t fight alone. Partnering with PSAOs (pharmacy services administration organizations), local pharmacy groups, state societies, and organizations like the National Community Pharmacists Association (NCPA) gives your pharmacy a voice. “The Mom and Pops and stand-alones out there need to come together and form an alliance,” according to an article titled “The Power of One: How Partnering Can Enhance Your Independent Brand” in the Jan. 13, 2018, issue of Pharmacy Times. The ability to serve patients and offer a higher level of point-of-care services is something independent pharmacies have as an advantage to offer over large chains. Changes and requirements within the industry to be a more integral part of patient care can tip the scales in the independents’ favor. Fighting for better and bigger reimbursements and equality within the PBM networks is something independent pharmacies must fight together for.

The success of many independents should inspire others and remind them that it is still possible to run a profitable community pharmacy. Independent pharmacy owners should empower each other. Successful stores should motivate you to rethink your business model and reinvest in and reinvent your business. Sometimes reevaluating your daily operations and researching other businesses help create a positive plan of action for you to make necessary changes. Pharmacists should lean on each other — you are one other’s best resource. Each and every year we see large numbers of entrepreneurs opening new independent pharmacies nationwide. Choosing the right location, as well as differentiating yourself from the competition, will help achieve long term success. Part of this undertaking is choosing the right vendors — the right drug wholesalers, and definitely the right pharmacy software company. Take time in reinventing yourself. Do some research online. Query your successful peers. And when it comes time to look at pharmacy management software, as well as point of sale, for your business, make sure to do live demonstrations to see what is out there. Learn about the companies you plan to partner with as vendors. Who owns them? What is their history? What are their plans for the future, and of course, what makes them different from the rest? The important thing to remember is that for many owners independent pharmacy is still a thriving business, and through change we can and will be successful well into the future. CT

Kevin Minassian is the second-generation family owner and president of DataScan Pharmacy in Bohemia, N.Y. To learn more, visit www.datascanpharmacy.com. His email is kevin@datascanpharmacy.com.