In a Time of Only Essential Businesses – Community Pharmacy is There

By
Jonathan Jacobs
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As I sit here at my home office, like many of you, I am wondering where all the “work” will go?  Our daily lives are totally disrupted; I can’t figure out what to do with my “free time.”  First off, nothing is free, not even my time, since we’re always paying for something… mortgage, rent, electric, oil.  All essential. To write and send this out, I had to pay my internet provider, a service more critical than it was just a few weeks ago.  This extra time exits because of this awful crisis going on around us; my family, my friends, and colleagues.  We are all right here in the middle of it!

Empty NY City StreetThis brings me to my point; OUT THERE means outside, in the real world… where people walk and talk, business gets done, and life goes on.  Well, at least, that’s what it used to mean.  Right now, the streets are empty, and everything is closed, right?  My gym, my barber, Kohl’s, Target, Walmart (depending on if they have food) – all closed!  The places I’d bring my family for dinner – closed! All the schools, no matter the grade level… closed.  A few towns over, our family synagogue… it’s closed as well!

Only essential businesses like the doctors’ office, the supermarket, the gas station, wait, is there another place?  Your LOCAL PHARMACY… is OPEN! Of all businesses in our society, we are in a sector that everyone agrees we can’t live without; local pharmacies are one of those Essential businesses!  Everyone needs them. At the end of the day, when choosing between a large chain or small mom and pop store, people still prefer and trust their local, independent pharmacy.

Now that everything else in society has closed, it truly is our time as an industry to shine and lead as we always have!  The local pharmacist, his/her establishment, and staff are the backbone of our communities.

Pharmacists, techs, clerks, and front-end workers play an essential role in each store.  Scotch Toast To Those On The Front Lines!Your store’s role in delivering vital medication and information in this time of tragedy defines what community pharmacy is all about.  Independent Pharmacy, its trusted industry vendors, related affiliations, and political associations must unite and lead our push for fair treatment and even dare I say “hazard pay” for being on the front lines of this crisis. A toast to you and your teams and we thank you.

I am not advocating for a specific reward for all professionals in Independent Pharmacy for doing what they’ve always done and will continue to do.  Delivering the highest level of service and integrity is what they do every day.  But it’s time for Independent Pharmacy to be reimbursed fairly, with the transparency in reimbursement other businesses take for granted. Pharmacy has shown that it has no problem stepping up in crisis; they have done it time and again.  But it’s hard to do that and stay “Essential” without fair compensation and consideration.

It’s hard enough to run a business on tight margins during normal circumstances, how can you do it with unpredictable reimbursement when costs go up in crisis?  PBM’s are some of the most profitable companies in America.  They’ve accomplished this while putting independent pharmacies out of business with various tactics:

• Reimbursing for prescriptions below cost

• Clawing back retroactive DIR fees with no justification or ability to cure

• Mandatory sourcing agreements

• Gag clauses preventing pharmacies from best serving their patients

… all continuing to tear at the very fabric of practicing pharmacy itself.  As I write this, Express Scripts and CVS Caremark have announced DIR fees on generics between 29 and 31%, making it more difficult to dispense these medications while losing money on each prescription.  Communities are losing the critical services provided by their community pharmacy, playing such an essential role for as long as one can remember.

All of us at Point of Care Systems wish for all to be safe and secure during this current Covaid-19 virus outbreak.  Our team is fully committed to a safe and healthy work environment for everyone who works in Independent Pharmacies throughout our country.

We encourage pharmacists to utilize your pharmacy management system tools to engage with your patients.  Take this opportunity to reach the customers you know need to be checked in on, either through the automated tools or by phone.  Make your system work for you.  Use it to empower communication in this time of need, closing the gap in communication, adherence, and care.

We’ve specifically designed our new RxInsight Suite of tools to address a “touchless experience” for you and your customers. Call me to begin a discussion and schedule a demo.

Health and Safety to all.
Jonathan “JJ” Jacobs
Point of care Systems, LLC.
Holbrook,  NY

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