Community pharmacy at a crossroads unites on new path


With clear evidence of their value, community pharmacies are ready to unite and take their healthcare services even further.

Gathered online this week for McKesson ideaShare 2021, pharmacy owners, pharmacists, technicians and leaders from McKesson and Health Mart celebrated the successes of the past year while focusing on how to unite and grow their businesses by:

  • Practicing at the top of their licenses
  • Partnering to deliver better healthcare in communities
  • Delivering services that open a range of healthy revenue streams not subject to DIR fees

The top-level goals are clear. McKesson and Health Mart are leading a coalition of healthcare and patient advocacy groups to push for pharmacist provider status and give patients access to vital services through direct reimbursement under Medicare Part B.

However, the greatest leverage can come from pharmacists educating policymakers about the impact that pharmacists and technicians can make on community health – and how DIR fees ultimately hinder patient access to care.

New revenues

“We are at a crossroads right now; we are in a transitional state,” noted Anthony Bolus, clinical coordinator for Family Medical Services Inc. during a CE session Friday. This CE looked at how to partner with others in the community to better serve patients.

While for years, dispensing fees have been the “bread and butter” of community pharmacy, those fees have taken a hit. But Bolus noted: “We can increase revenue without DIR fees.”

Pharmacies are already receiving payment for services including:

  • Point-of-care testing
  • Immunizations
  • Chronic disease state education
  • Compliance packaging
  • Wellness screenings and more.

Bolus advised community pharmacists, “If you haven’t gotten into vaccines, now is the time. You haven’t missed out yet.” He shared these thoughts on the very same day that the Food and Drug Administration recommended the first COVID-19 booster shots. “We are essentially redefining who we are,” Bolus said.

He encouraged pharmacy owners to connect with a wide network within their communities to identify and meet healthcare needs. “We’ve got to go outside the pharmacy,” he said. “We can’t do everything within the four walls of the pharmacy,” not only in vaccine clinics, but in screenings, education, and other services. “We can do them outside of the pharmacy and get paid.”

“We really can be a healthcare destination with a lot of different proactive types of care to optimize the lives of our patients,” Bolus said. Describing the results of a wellness screening program for state employees in Alabama, he said, “I really believe that this practice model of these wellness screenings is the way we’re going to be able to get back to sustainability within our practice sites.”

“We have seen through this pandemic how valuable pharmacist generated services can be,” Bolus said.

The final ideaShare sessions on Friday, September 17, also covered:

  • Offering point of care testing not only for COVID-19, flu and strep, but also conditions including diabetes, dyslipidemia, HIV and Hepatitis C, along with appropriate counseling.
    • “Point-of-care testing is expected to exceed immunizations as a driver of revenue for community pharmacies,” Hussein El Khatib, CEO of Toledo Family Pharmacy, said during the CE session he led, citing research by Deloitte.
  • Helping patients develop a healthy meal pattern over a lifetime, working with other experts, from nutritionists to farmers.

It’s not too late to watch these sessions

The McKesson ideaShare General Sessions and Pharma Talks are available on demand to all registrants byin the McKesson ideaShare 2021 virtual platform through September 30.

You can find all CE sessions from McKesson ideaShare on Health Mart University starting September 27.