Making Patient Counseling at Retail a Priority


Several recent studies and articles highlight the many problems that exist with medication adherence and the opportunity for pharmacists to play a key role in addressing these issues.

  • Massive problem. Non-adherence to prescribed-medication regimens results in up to 125,000 deaths per year and costs the healthcare system more than $177 billion annually. A recent Harvard Medical School study found that more than 20% of first-time prescriptions go unfilled; the rate is higher among those with chronic diseases. (American Pharmacists Association)
  • Revenue sources. Independent pharmacies generate more than 90% of their revenue from prescription-drug reimbursement. But many pharmacists are working to diversify their revenues. Currently 76% of independent pharmacies offer immunizations (up from 46% last year), which generates $10,000 in additional revenue on average. Also, 68% of independents now offer some form of medication therapy management (MTM). (2010 NCPA Digest summarized in Drugstore News)
  • Business model. A researcher at the University of Minnesota College of Pharmacy, who studied how pharmacists work, sees a shifting business model. Historically the pharmacy business model was based on distribution. Going forward, patient-care services and MTM will play a larger role. In May 2010, the editor of Pharmacy Times wrote, “A pharmacy business model that relies primarily on filling prescriptions may be in trouble over the next 5 to 10 years.” An example of a business model of the future: more pharmacies are expected to begin billing insurers for diabetes-education services. (Drug Topics) [McKesson is taking the lead in working to facilitate reimbursement for pharmacies that provide MTM services.]
  • Capabilities. A recent study found that retail pharmacists are the most effective channel for communicating with patients about medication adherence. The education and communication from retail pharmacists is more effective than programs that communicate with patients via mail, fax and interactive technologies. (PR Newswire)