Many retail and long-term care pharmacies find their revenue streams struggling under large volumes of prescriptions, preferred networks, dispensing fees, and high reimbursements. In this blog we review why pharmacies can no longer rely solely on traditional dispensing methods and explore three value-added services you can employ to stay competitive.
Traditional revenue streams are decreasing
Pharmacy has traditionally been a profession in which payments were related to the amount of drugs dispensed. Retail pharmacies earned money and tracked productivity by the number of prescriptions filled. Typical documentation involved the number of prescriptions per day, per week, and per month.
Long-term care pharmacies often track payments by how many beds they have and are currently serving. Higher bed count typically equates to higher patient count and higher revenue.
Long-term care pharmacies are disadvantaged in that they typically operate off-site, not directly in an LTC facility. Therefore, the opportunity for direct patient care, such as blood pressure readings, medication therapy management, and other clinical services, is frequently lost. LTC pharmacies can take steps to increase revenue by enhancing their clinical services and increasing community involvement.
Incorporate Long Term Care Pharmacy Services
Personalization of services often leads to increases in revenue. Long-term care pharmacy managers, pharmacists, and other care professionals should become familiar with staff at each facility they serve. Such staff are often overwhelmed and require additional attention; your team can be an invaluable resource, which can help strengthen your partnerships.
There may not be a significant benefit for pharmacy staff to offer blood pressure monitoring or diabetic testing in skilled nursing facilities, where residents may have complicated comorbidities. However, many long-term care pharmacies also service assisted living, independent living, behavioral health, and other types of facilities. Residents in these types of facilities often have a choice as to which pharmacy they can use.
The clinical services you offer could range from blood pressure testing to diabetic shoe fitting, and vary according to the facility type and need, but the effort can be seen as providing a caring, personal service. Currently, one of the most popular clinical requests is for immunization services provided at LTC facilities. Pharmacists can provide flu shots and other immunizations to both facility staff and residents as a value-added service.
Conduct Medicare Part D reviews
By law, pharmacists cannot recommend a specific prescription drug plan to a Medicare beneficiary. Long-term care pharmacies can, however, help beneficiaries and their caregivers find as much relevant, unbiased information about prescription drug plans options as possible. Such information may be about drugs covered by health plans, generic drug options, possible drug interactions, and annual Medicare changes.
All too often beneficiaries select a Part D plan not realizing their local pharmacy is not preferred by their health plan, which can result in higher co-payments or the beneficiary not being able to access the pharmacy at all. This can be avoided by pre-emptively reviewing a beneficiary’s Medicare Part D plan and advising on options that might meet their needs better.
Providing such unbiased information can be important to not only community pharmacies, but to long-term care pharmacies as well. Many residents in independent living or behavioral health facilities will have choices as to where they can fill their medications. A pharmacy that is willing to spend time reviewing the Medicare Part D options for a resident can improve retention and demonstrate a commitment to the facility, the resident, and their family or caregivers.
The Annual open enrollment for Medicare Part D plans occurs October 15 through December 7 each year. Pharmacies should plan to utilize the months leading up to open enrollment as a time to notify the facilities they serve about their offerings, as well as to advertise and conduct outreach to new facilities.
Participate in your local community
Many LTC pharmacies underestimate the importance of community involvement and the need to have a strong community presence. Rest assured that decision-makers, caregivers, and residents at each facility know which pharmacists are involved in their local community.
Senior fairs, often held at local churches, community centers, and schools, present an excellent opportunity for pharmacies to get involved. Even if your parent company is a large or multi-state organization, you can still grow your local influence by participating in your community. Current and potential new patients, their families, and caregivers will attend these events. Gaining one patient from a new facility can easily lead to two or three new patients from that same location as word of mouth spreads. If you are not present, you may lose current and potential new patients to other pharmacies that are more-active in the community.
Finally, local presentations are an excellent way for you to show your community that you care and are involved. Senior centers, churches, and community centers frequently host events and need speakers, experts, and planned activities. Providing a talk on weight management, blood pressure, fall risks and prevention, or any other topic on which you are knowledgeable can strengthen relations, which can lead to more patients, additional filled prescriptions, and increased revenue.
The benefit of value-added services
Like many retail and long-term care pharmacies, you may be experiencing a stagnating revenue stream from relying too much on traditional pharmacy medication dispensation methods. You might want to consider enhancing your traditional revenue model with key value-added services like incorporating clinical services at your LTC facility partners, conducting Medicare Part D reviews for patients, and being more-present in your community by participating in senior fairs and in events as a medical expert.
Offering such value-added services to your revenue stream not only increases the possibilities for prescription growth, but strengthens the relationships between your pharmacy, your partner facilities, and your local communities. These stronger bonds can encourage patient growth and retention to solidify both traditional and new revenue streams and grow your business.