The future of pharmacy is now


Independent community pharmacies have done more than just be responsive and resilient during the COVID-19 pandemic. They laid the groundwork for playing a bigger role in the future of healthcare.

“The entire country is watching us right now.” — Nancy Lyons, Health Mart vice president and chief pharmacy officer

“The future for our profession starts now,” said Nancy Lyons, Health Mart vice president and chief pharmacy officer, during the opening session of McKesson ideaShare 2021. “You are creating the evidence we need to further elevate practice opportunities for pharmacists and technicians, to unapologetically seek provider status.”

The opening session at ideaShare celebrated how independent pharmacies have united for success and highlighted further opportunities to unite, learn and grow the business.

Proven results

Health Mart President Eyad Farah noted, “When the country needed to get shots in arms, they turned to you.” As a result, over the past year Health Mart pharmacies have delivered more than 525,000 COVID-19 tests and more than 1 million COVID-19 vaccines

“The entire country is watching us right now,” Lyons said, noting COVID-19 booster shots and flu season are just around the corner.

As community pharmacies prove their value, that provides the evidence to develop sustainable payment for programs and services.


United to perform

Payers are looking for consistent, high-value services, and Health Marts together are providing a network that can compete with the big chains.

Health Mart Atlas provides a PSAO that regularly ranks #1 on performance measures, giving pharmacies the power to be a preferred provider on contracts and earn higher reimbursement rates. “You’re already outperforming your competition,” said Crystal Lennartz, vice president and general manager of Health Mart Atlas.

Health Mart pharmacies’ focus on MTMs saved an estimated $64 million in avoidable healthcare costs. But Lennartz noted that MTM completions are down this year and encouraged pharmacists to push forward. “Now is the time to re-engage with your patients, either in person or virtually,” she stressed.

While pharmacies focus on patients, their partners at Health Mart Atlas are working on payments. “The financial claims cobweb can be confusing and difficult to navigate, especially without help,” Lennartz noted, so Health Mart Atlas has been updating reimbursement tools, including a process to automatically appeal claims.

Beyond Rx

Instead of focusing only on delivering prescriptions, pharmacies must become the center of patients’ healthcare journey. “We need to continue to wrap our businesses around the patient,” Lennartz emphasized. “Patients have unique needs, and we need to be equipped to step in, fill the gaps and get you paid for the important work you’re doing.”

Pharmacies delivering COVID-19 tests can expand to flu and strep tests. Programs also are emerging to ensure that pharmacies are paid for patient education. To take advantage of emerging opportunities through Health Mart, Lyons advised pharmacy owners to:

  • Update your NCPDP profile
  • Update your store profile in MyHealthMart
  • Respond quickly to calls for participation in new programs

“Growth is the easiest way to determine the health of our pharmacies,” Farah said. “We should continue to look for better ways to serve all of our patients,” at a time when patients’ preferences are changing.

Farah noted that in the past year, many patients have had their first telehealth visit, and patients have embraced e-commerce and delivery. They want convenience and personalized care, something independent pharmacies are well positioned to deliver.

A massive opportunity for pharmacies is reaching patients online. A new Health Mart Digital Portfolio of platforms and apps is being rolled out.

“To move forward, we really need to make sure that we are building pharmacies that are prepared and positioned for the future and trained to deliver on these new patient expectations,” Farah said.

In addition to training, networks, resources and payment tools available through Health Mart and Heath Mart Atlas, McKesson is also looking to leverage more partnerships. A partnership with Amazon brought more than 130,000 customers into Health Mart pharmacies. New partnerships are being developed that will bring pharmacies additional telehealth and e-commerce solutions.

Other highlights from Day 1 of McKesson ideaShare 2021

  • Inspiration for boosting online reach, including a 30-day challenge to create multiple social media posts from one idea. (Pharma Talk on Digital)
  • Examples for reaching policymakers on emerging pharmacy issues. (Pharma Talk on Advocacy)
  • Advice for talking with patients about naloxone to overcome stigmas, such as describing the danger of a “breathing emergency.” (CE on Naloxone Education)
  • How to partner with other groups to end the HIV epidemic, removing potential barriers to testing and adherence. (CE on HIV)

It’s not too late to watch these sessions

The ideaShare General Sessions and Pharma Talks are available on demand to all registrants by registering for the show at McKesson ideaShare 2021.

Tune in on Wednesday, September 15, for the Public Policy General Session at 10 a.m., along with sessions and CEs on advocacy, marketing and pandemic preparedness, and Pharma Talks.