Key Themes from McKesson ideaShare 2015


Nearly 5,000 participants came together at McKesson ideaShare 2015 in San Diego to network, see the latest new products and technologies, focus on the major changes in the business of community pharmacy, and share what’s working.

Three major themes permeated thought leaders’ innovative addresses at the general, keynote and breakout sessions:

Watch highlights from the three keynote speeches from McKesson ideaShare 2015:

  1. During times of change, attitude is what matters most. The entire healthcare industry is going through a period of extreme change, triggered in part by the Affordable Care Act, but also driven by cost pressures, consolidation, technology and innovation. Change is sweeping healthcare in general, affecting all providers and patients, with significant implications for retail pharmacies.

    In session after session, speakers stated emphatically the reality that “the industry is rapidly changing for independent pharmacies.” Many speakers and attendees acknowledged the changes that are taking place, but emphasized that what matters most is the mindset of pharmacy owners in thinking about and responding to the changes taking place. We heard statements such as:

    • “You need to systematically let go of what was in favor of what can be.”
    • “There is a need for a paradigm change in community pharmacy practice.”
    • “We need to shift the model of independent pharmacy.”
    • “The driving force for implementing change is to focus on things I can affect, not the things I cannot.”
    • “Your present circumstances don’t determine where you go. They merely determine where you start.”

    In general, while change brings uncertainty, we heard a great deal of optimism, enthusiasm and focus on opportunities. Numerous pharmacies are responding to the changes taking place with an attitude of “I am in!” By being “in,” owners are seeing this as a unique moment to transform their operations, win new patients and add new services.

  2. Long-term success requires access to patients.One of the changes continuing to generate attention is the rapid growth of different types of narrow and preferred networks. In 2011, just 7% of Medicare Part D plans offered lower-cost pharmacy networks. As of 2015, an astounding 87% of Part D plans offered some form of a narrow pharmacy network.

    In regard to preferred networks, the view of McKesson and Health Mart, stated by Mark Walchirk, the President of McKesson U.S. Pharmaceutical, during the Opening General Session is “the train has left the station, but the good news is that McKesson and Health Mart have been on that train.” Preferred networks are a reality, and implications for pharmacies include a trade-off of lower reimbursement rates for access to lives, and increasing importance of clinical performance.

    Throughout ideaShare there were multiple examples of pharmacies that have made it a priority to achieve high levels of performance on the quality measures that CMS uses for Star Ratings. In fact, many pharmacies in attendance are currently performing in the top 20% of all pharmacies nationally on measures such as medication adherence. Performance will become increasingly important as Medicare and other payers rapidly evolve to increase the amount of payment tied to performance.

  3. Sustained growth requires new customers and services.This theme reflects the most exciting part of ideaShare. We heard story after story of pharmacies that are innovating and succeeding. Pharmacies are introducing a wide range of new clinical services and are finding creative ways to work with payers to get reimbursement. Pharmacies are using creative new marketing approaches, including web and database marketing and social media, as well as traditional media and creative promotions, to bring in more customers — like hosting a health fair. Pharmacists are also partnering with other providers and building relationships with physicians to bring in more customers. And once pharmacies have attracted customers, savvy owners are looking for ways to increase the value of these customers by mining their databases to identify upselling opportunities and asking leading questions to uncover opportunities to solve problems.

    We heard a great deal of focus on medication synchronization, which is becoming widespread. Medication synchronization improves adherence and provides significant operational efficiencies, which boosts the bottom line. Also, pharmacies are expanding MTM and other types of clinical counseling services, are pursuing opportunities in specialty drugs at retail, and are providing health and wellness screenings, immunizations, and a wide range of other clinical services. We also heard from owners who are increasing profits through compounding, through an increased focus on DME, and by marketing vitamins and supplements.

McKesson ideaShare reinforced some things most of us already know too well: that it is a challenging and rapidly changing environment. But with that as the context, we saw energy, optimism and creativity from pharmacy owners across the country who are prioritizing clinical performance to ensure participation in preferred networks and access to patients. We then see owners going a step further in employing creative marketing techniques to bring new customers in and then offering a host of new products and services to drive revenue and profits.

In the coming months, Smart Retailing Rx will feature in-depth profiles and success stories highlighting many of the ideas from ideaShare.

Mark your calendars for McKesson ideaShare 2016 in Chicago, June 26–30.