Independent pharmacy trends for 2020


The context and opportunities for independent pharmacy

In brief:

  • Pharmacy has evolved from filling prescriptions to broadly caring for patients
  • The landscape for independent pharmacy is extremely challenging, which is unlikely to change
  • But there are enormous opportunities to improve outcomes and quality of life and to lower costs
  • Pursuing these opportunities requires creating the right team and adding clinical services
  • Health Mart® and Health Mart Atlas™ can help pharmacies achieve their goals

To kick off 2020, Chain Drug Review (CDR) invited Nancy Lyons, Health Mart’s new Chief Pharmacist, to share her perspective on major trends, challenges and opportunities impacting independent pharmacy. Provided below is a summary of Nancy’s thoughts.

The transformation of independent pharmacy

About 30 years ago, a transformation in the pharmacist’s role began. This transformation has been from dispensing products to taking a broader responsibility for patient care.

As we enter a new decade, the role of the pharmacist will continue to broaden to fill gaps in patient care and provide even more value to healthcare consumers, who are demanding quality, convenience and control in their health and wellness journey.

The impact pharmacists will make starts with individual patients and caregivers and expands to opportunities to impact public health.


Independent pharmacy faces multiple challenges including complex reimbursement issues, a shifting product mix, increased use of technology and a changing provider landscape fueled by industry consolidations and new entrants.


Despite these considerable challenges, independent community pharmacies — staffed with highly trained pharmacists — are in the perfect position to:

  • Deliver improved clinical outcomes
  • Improve patients’ quality of life
  • Reduce healthcare costs

Continuing the transformation, achieving these opportunities

Achieving these results will be based on creating an outstanding pharmacy team, expanding valuable clinical services, leveraging front-end assets and differentiating your pharmacy in a crowded landscape.

  • Creating an outstanding pharmacy team. Independent pharmacies must ensure that all members of the pharmacy team are trained and prepared to perform at the top of their license, credentials or training. An efficient, well-trained team allows pharmacists more time for patient consultation and delivery of value-add services. This includes enhanced patient care; clinical education and monitoring; pharmacist prescriptive authority under protocol; and collaborative practice or stand-alone authority.
  • Expanding valuable clinical services. To provide greater value to patients and communities, independent pharmacists must continue broadening the clinical services they offer. This includes:
    • Receiving access to specialty medications
    • Providing personalized medication management and consultation services
    • Offering critical immunizations
    • Having convenient point-of-care testing options
    • Delivering nutrition, wellness and chronic condition education
  • Leveraging front-end assets. Pharmacies must leverage their front end to be sure that customers can find the right products and services to meet their needs. These products should offer solutions for patients who are sick, recovering or managing chronic conditions as well as provide convenient options to maintain health and wellness.
  • Differentiating your pharmacy. As a baseline, independent pharmacies must offer those services available at traditional competitors, including immunizations, chronic condition support, point-of-care testing, medication therapy management, nutrition support, delivery and more. But to stay competitive, independent pharmacies must do even more — they must constantly look for ways to offer differentiating value to keep consumers engaged.

How Health Mart helps

Health Mart pharmacy owners are driven to transform the health and wellness journey for patients and caregivers and are dedicated to improving their communities. Their firsthand knowledge of the needs of their communities allows them to leverage all of their unique assets to meet these goals.

Health Mart supports independent pharmacy owners in their efforts to remain independent and leverage relationships, knowledge and assets while pairing their individual strength with national brand recognition and value-add resources from McKesson.

Health Mart Atlas, the leading pharmacy services administration organization (PSAO), is also critical for pharmacies navigating the evolving reimbursement landscape. With the right PSAO partner and well-trained staff, patient care improves as does a pharmacy’s business results.

What the future holds

Now is the time for independent pharmacies to build on the momentum of the past three decades.

Pharmacists at independent community pharmacies can leverage their role as trusted local healthcare providers to improve the health of individual patients and to impact public health. This will be done by creating an outstanding team, continuing to expand the clinical services that are offered, leveraging front-end assets, and constantly innovating and differentiating versus traditional competitors.

The coming decade will be challenging. But for independent pharmacies that understand these trends and capitalize on them, it will be possible to future-proof the pharmacy and grow the business.