Health Mart awards honor 7 independent pharmacies at McKesson ideaShare

2019 Health Mart Pharmacy Winners

Best practices from 7 award-winning independent pharmacies 

In brief:

  • Health Mart® pharmacies are leaders at innovating and serving communities
  • 7 top-performing pharmacies are being honored at McKesson ideaShare 2019
  • Hear their stories for inspiration and ideas to grow and market your business

The best of the best

Exceptional customer service, innovative programs and creative marketing allow independent pharmacies to thrive. With so many outstanding independent pharmacies, this year McKesson has decided to honor not just the 2019 Health Mart Pharmacy of the Year, but also six other deserving pharmacies.

These award winners support their patients and communities, leverage tools such as medication synchronization and the Marketing Hub, and continue to find new revenue streams.

Here’s a snapshot of what makes each of them great.

Health Mart Pharmacy of the Year: Trumm Drug

When staff pharmacists Aaron Finley and Alan Fettig bought Trumm Drug in April 2018 — with assistance from RxOwnership® — they took over a business the Trumm family has been growing in Alexandria, Minnesota, since 1951. Today Trumm Drug includes five traditional Health Mart retail shops and one location focused on home healthcare.

Trumm Drug stands out based on:

  • Patient care.

    More than 600 patients are in Trumm’s med sync program. Trumm’s year-round immunization program provides a range of vaccines and includes off-site clinics for flu shots. And staff members help patients navigate complications of prior authorizations, coupons, CoverMyMeds and more.

  • Working with hospitals.

    In addition to being the 340B pharmacy for three hospitals, Trumm is starting a transitional care program and this spring launched the GeriMed combo program.

  • Marketing.

    Trumm Drug is everywhere customers are today, with a well-designed website, Facebook page and Twitter presence, as well as radio and print ads, flyers and handouts. It even offers a Health Mart–branded loyalty program.

  • Community involvement.

    Trumm donates to multiple organizations and participates in the United Way and Chamber of Commerce. It works with the local law enforcement opioid task force, sponsors a local food pantry and is active with the state pharmacy association.

Clinical Innovation award: Buena Vista Drug

Buena Vista Drug has enrolled nearly 300 patients in med sync, allowing more time for patient counseling. That has led to the pharmacy consistently being in the Top 20% in most EQuIPP (Electronic Quality Improvement Platform for Plans and Pharmacies) categories.

Buena Vista also offers a wide range of clinical services, including:

  • Diabetes education.

    It’s the only pharmacy accredited by the American Association of Diabetes Educators that is performing group diabetic self-management education in Colorado. Going further, Buena Vista has expanded to diabetes prevention classes.

  • Contraceptive and smoking cession counseling.

    Colorado has statewide protocols for counseling and prescribing both hormonal contraceptives and smoking cessation. All the pharmacists are trained to provide these programs.

  • Point-of-care testing.

    Patients can have their A1C, cholesterol and blood pressure checked, as well as receive rapid flu and strep testing.

  • Nutrient depletion counseling.

    Buena Vista’s pharmacy management system prompts staff when a patient’s medication could lead to nutrient depletion. This alerts staff to discuss possible benefits of vitamins and supplements.

Operational Innovation award: Toledo Family Pharmacy

Toledo Family Pharmacy in Ohio focuses on efficiency and innovation in its two retail locations and long-term care pharmacy. Owner Hussein El-Khatib already invested in Dispill and a Parata 250, and is looking at additional technology. But his focus on improving the business goes beyond those solutions. “I pride myself on being more of a business person than a pharmacist,” said El-Khatib. He is:

  • Reducing DIR.

    “Our big killer is DIR fees,” said El-Khatib, referring to direct and indirect remuneration. One way to reduce those fees is improved adherence. To improve adherence, Toledo Family Pharmacy has synchronized the medications for almost 90% of its patients. “Med sync is in our DNA; it’s automatic,” El-Khatib said. He’s also identifying homebound patients who are eligible to be billed as long-term care patients, which takes them out of the DIR equation.

  • Using collaborative practice agreements.

    Toledo Family Pharmacy delivers more than immunizations under these agreements. It also ensures that every patient receiving prescriptions for chronic pain medications receives naloxone, to avoid potential overdoses.

  • Providing corporate wellness.

    To extend its reach, Toledo Family Pharmacy works with small businesses to provide immunizations, smoking cessation programs and diabetes education.

  • Offering a fellowship.

    El-Khatib worked with the University of Toledo College of Pharmacy to create a Community-Based Health Outcomes Fellowship program. While earning a master’s degree in health outcomes and socioeconomic sciences, a fellow works with the pharmacy for two years. Fellows oversee programs such as diabetes management and smoking cessation. When fellows publish research or go on to other roles, such as working with the World Health Organization, as one fellow did, it extends the pharmacy’s reputation.

Marketing Innovation award: Parkland Health Mart Pharmacy

Parkland Health Mart Pharmacy in Desloge, Missouri, continues to find creative new ways to market its business.

Online marketing

While Parkland uses some traditional media, such as direct mail, it also has a strong social media presence across multiple platforms. “We’ve tried it all,” said Debbie Hamby, business manager. “Right now we’re mainly focused online. You have to go where people are,” she said.

Parkland has:

  • A Facebook presence with more than 4,400 followers.
  • A YouTube channel featuring its own Pharmtastic Four superheroes. “Video is huge,” Hamby said.
  • Just scratched the surface on other platforms, such as Instagram.

Hamby regularly monitors analytics from areas such as Google searches and Facebook ad campaigns. “Facebook has changed a lot over the past year,” Hamby said. “You have to pay to play.” So, she tracks how well those dollars perform when Parkland promotes posts.

Make it fun

Parkland has learned that doing things in a fun, lighthearted way is most effective on social platforms. While posts about serious subjects have their place, Hamby explained, “People don’t want to be educated when they’re cruising social media.”

Try new things

Parkland’s owners aren’t afraid of trying something new, Hamby said. Marketing also ties to the pharmacy’s mission to promote and serve the community. Last year, for example, Parkland helped promote a 5K sponsored by the Chamber of Commerce; participation tripled.

New this year is a partnership with a local radio station. It includes an advertising package tied to local high school sports broadcasts. Part of the program is a “Play It Forward Athlete of the Week,” nominated by coaches. Each week’s winner receives a T-shirt and certificate, and Parkland makes a $25 donation to the charity of the player’s choice. Parkland posts the weekly winner on its Facebook page, which has drawn attention from outlying areas, generated new followers and led to greater brand awareness.

Community Excellence award: New Oakland Pharmacy #2

Owners Kam Tam and Albert Wong demonstrate the power of putting patients first and serving their community. Tam said that after beginning his career at one of the big chains, when he joined Wong at their first pharmacy, serving Chinatown, “I found my purpose.”

Serving the community

Each of their seven retail locations in Oakland, California focuses on community needs. This might include assisting Asian and Hispanic immigrants or helping children who are receiving specialty medications for rare diseases.

  • Assisting immigrants.

    Immigrants themselves decades ago, Tam and Wong understand the struggles of families who don’t have insurance and can’t speak English. To serve these patients, their pharmacies have staffs who can serve patients in five languages. Also, Tam was instrumental in working with McKesson to have Pharmaserv® be able to print labels in multiple languages.

  • Tam and Wong also work closely with Asian Health Services, the federally qualified health center that helps immigrants. “I realize how important those centers are,” said Tam, who along with his parents was among the beneficiaries.

  • Helping the homeless.

    To serve the area’s homeless population, New Oakland participates in health screenings and provides medications to a mobile service unit. But the pharmacy owners didn’t stop there. They spent two years advocating for a clinic in the area to serve the homeless population. That clinic is now located just blocks from one of their pharmacies.

  • Supporting kids.

    One of New Oakland’s pharmacies has served children requiring specialty medications, from babies born with HIV to children with cystic fibrosis. Through its work with physicians, New Oakland Pharmacy became the only independent pharmacy in California approved to treat patients receiving a new drug called Jadenu, for those who need more than 10 blood transfusions a year. One encounter helping a case worker with a patient who required 18 medications led to the pharmacy providing services to the California Children’s Services agency.

  • Smoking cessation.

    Because asthma is a big problem in the community, the pharmacy stepped up to provide smoking cessation for parents.

  • Preparing future caregivers.

    To train the next generation of caregivers, New Oakland contributes to scholarships for pre-med students. “We try to bring new graduates back to the community to serve,” Tam said.

“We really want to serve patients the best we can as a pharmacy,” Tam said, and that, rather than profit, is the first focus. But those efforts do pay off as word spreads through the community and providers, and the business grows.

Community Excellence award: Section Health Mart Pharmacy

Section Health Mart Pharmacy plays a central role in the Alabama community where it is located. This role was clear during a recent hepatitis A outbreak. Section Health Mart provided important information to both the community and the state. Owner Derrell Massey was even featured on the news giving free hepatitis vaccines.

Over the past 25 years Massey has served on many boards, from the Section City Council to the Alabama Pharmacy Association’s Board of Trustees. He has chaired both the hospital board and the Blood Assurance Advisory Committee. Massey is also involved at every level of education in the community. Through Section Health Mart Pharmacy he:

  • Hosts classes on first aid, sun safety and recognizing medicine that may look like candy.
  • Awards scholarships to five local high school graduates.
  • Serves as a preceptor for the Auburn and Samford University pharmacy schools.

Once each month, Section Health Mart hosts Highlands Medical Center’s “Medicine on the Move” mobile unit. This mobile unit offers routine screenings for blood pressure, glucose, cholesterol and oxygen. And every six weeks, the community can find a blood donation bus in Section Health Mart’s parking lot.

Independent Spirit award: Black River Falls Clinic Pharmacy

Black River Falls Clinic Pharmacy in Wisconsin has created a big presence from a small location. Despite having a location of only 500 square feet, Black River Falls Clinic Pharmacy is the only independent pharmacy in its county and is one of the top performing Health Marts in the country.

Owner Barbara Hagenbrock allows pharmacist Heather Gjerseth to focus on:

  • Med sync, serving 250 patients.
  • Medication therapy management.
  • Making therapy recommendations to physicians, by fax or in person. They develop recommendations after reviewing information in the clinic notes that the pharmacy can access.
  • Developing relationships in the community. Black River Falls Clinic Pharmacy has built relationships with assisted living facilities, group homes, the local jail and state prison to provide compliance packaging for medications. Home health agencies, for example, have realized that paying for this packaging is less expensive than having a staff member organize the medications.
  • Through a relationship with a nurse who specializes in hormone replacement therapy, Black River Falls Clinic Pharmacy has compounded more than 250 topical formulations for patients.
  • Identifying patient outliers to serve, using platforms including EQuIPP, Mirixa, Outcomes and PrescribeWellness.

The pharmacy shares a waiting room with the Krohn Clinic. Pharmacy staff are encouraged to chat with waiting patients to build relationships.

Operating in a town with a population of just 3,600, the pharmacy has shifted to providing 90-day supplies to patients. This allowed the pharmacy to maintain its current staff while in 2018 increasing prescription volume from 41,000 to 51,000.

Common theme: Community involvement

The pharmacy owners being honored this year are deeply involved in their communities at every level, from serving as the treasurer for the local Little League team to working with top elected officials in their cities and states.

Knowing their communities, networking, and focusing on better ways to serve patients creates thriving pharmacies.