Inside: As reimbursements continue to plummet, independent pharmacies need to pursue profits to stay in business. Start by attracting the most profitable patients.
Reimbursements aren’t improving. DIR fees continue to erode your bottom line. Networks are becoming more exclusive. These troubling trends don’t bode well for independent pharmacy. To offset these growing problems, independent pharmacies need to find creative ways to keep generating profit.
Which starts with your patients.
Although all patients deserve equal treatment and care from your pharmacy, not all patients bring in equal business.
Certain patients spend more money and stay more loyal to your pharmacy than other patients. The more of these patients you attract, the more profit you’ll earn.
Pursuing profitable patients is a win-win. Your profit correlates with your care. Improving the outcomes of your neediest patients improves the outcome of your business.
Who Are Your Pharmacy’s Most Profitable Patients?
By 2020, the U.S. will have the largest population of seniors in history. Projections estimate Medicare enrollment to grow at least 30 percent over the coming decade, from 56 million to 75 million.
The drug spending by this population is so high that a report by the U.S. Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) cited its growth as a prime contributor to the projected increase in the nation’s total healthcare spending.
A single year of health spending in patients over 65 includes:
- Make up 60 percent of patients who spent more than $100,000 per year on prescription drugs
- One-third receive treatment for at least 10 conditions
- Sixty percent take a minimum of 10 different prescription drugs
Now that you know Medicare patients are your pharmacy’s most profitable patients, learn how to pursue them to procure better profit.
8 Effective Ways to Pursue Your Most Profitable Patients
Certain strategies more effectively attract and satisfy Medicare patients than others. Try these approaches to win over the most profitable patients to your pharmacy.
1. Make your pharmacy accommodating to Medicare patients
Make your pharmacy a Medicare destination by tailoring it to people aged 65 and older. Let the preferences and needs of seniors guide your pharmacy’s decisions.
Offer prescription delivery
Many Medicare patients have limited mobility. Make your pharmacy accessible by offering the convenience of prescription delivery and mail order options.
Update your contact information online
Medicare patients are likely to simply look up your pharmacy’s phone number, hours, address and the services you offer. Keep your website and social media profiles up-to-date with your pharmacy’s contact information so these patients can conveniently find what they’re looking for.
Provide top-notch customer service
Medicare patients value a pharmacy primarily for its friendly service. Make sure to staff your pharmacy with quality employees who demonstrate interpersonal skills. Train them to recommend products and make patients feel comfortable shopping in your pharmacy.
Consider offering charge accounts
Charge accounts offer patients the convenience of paying their bill once a month instead of with every transaction. This is especially valuable for older patients, so they don’t have to mess with money during each transaction and can instead have a family member pay the bill each month.
Come out from behind the counter
Build relationships with Medicare patients by taking time to come from behind the counter to talk. Many seniors look for that extra level of care in a pharmacy.
Make the pharmacy physically appealing
The physical aspects of your pharmacy affect your Medicare patients’ experience. For example, use good lighting to make it easier read prices and product information. Keep your aisles wide to accommodate mobility devices. And set up comfortable chairs in the waiting area.
2. Help Medicare patients review their plan options
Medicare enrollment comes around every October. And it can be a nightmare for patients.
Two studies showed that less than half of patients are satisfied with the information they’re given to make decisions about their Medicare Part D drug plan. Another report by the Better Medicare Alliance estimated that nearly a quarter of Medicare patients don’t know how to research drug plan options.
According to that report, “Many beneficiaries are unaware that they have a choice regarding their coverage, or do not know which resource to use to learn more. This makes understanding the components of the Medicare program and the individual plan options available to them even more challenging.”
3. Partner with hospice and retirement facilities
Hospice and retirement facilities are mostly populated with Medicare patients.
Partnering with them to provide medications will guarantee a steady stream of profitable patients. Plus, many of those patients will require high-margin prescription drugs such as compounded and specialty medications.
4. Offer adherence services
Nearly 92 percent of older adults have at least one chronic condition; 77 percent have at least two.
According to the American Society of Consultant Pharmacists (ASCP), “Seniors are especially at risk for medication-related problems due to physiological changes of aging, higher incidence of multiple chronic diseases and conditions, and greater consumption of prescription and over-the-counter medications … Medication-related problems are estimated to be one of the top five causes of death in that age group, and a major cause of confusion, depression, falls, disability, and loss of independence.”
To truly care for your Medicare patients, offer adherence services to help them safely manage their medications.
5. Market to Medicare patients
Marketing your pharmacy’s products and services is one of the best ways to help your Medicare patients.
Many older Americans aren’t aware of all the services you provide and are likely missing out on something that could improve their health.
Easy ways to market pharmacy products and services to older patients:
- Create promotional bag stuffers
- Hand out brochures at the counter
- Inform patients face-to-face
- Send coupons in the mail
- Showcase services on social media
- Use banners and signs
6. Make your pharmacy affordable
Low cost is a principal driver for Medicare patients. Half have incomes less than two times the federal poverty level, and traditional Medicare covers only about half of beneficiaries’ total health costs.
And seventy-five percent of seniors are more likely to make a purchase if they have a discount or coupon.
Make your pharmacy’s pricing attractive to Medicare patients with these strategies:
- Find generic alternatives when possible
- Provide “seniors only” front-end coupons
- Create a senior discount day
- Let seniors know when paying out-of-pocket is cheaper than the co-pay
- Help patients find the lowest-cost Medicare Part D plan
7. Improve your Star Ratings
Exclusionary networks determine how many Medicare patients your pharmacy can gain.
And as you know, those preferred networks in part depend on a pharmacy’s performance and Star Ratings. Improving your performance in certain areas will give you access to more Medicare patients and increase your margins from their purchases.
Ways to boost Star Ratings:
- Focus on increasing generic dispensing above 94 percent
- Improve patient adherence in three key areas: diabetes, blood pressure, and cholesterol
- Complete all of their medication therapy management (MTM) cases through Mirixa and OutcomesMTM
8. Offer services Medicare patients need
Although adherence tops the list, Medicare patients need many other services to stay healthy and improve outcomes.
For example, Medicare patients are at higher risk of high blood pressure, arthritis, and falls.
Consider offering these services Medicare patients need:
- Blood pressure testing
- Chronic disease management
- Comprehensive medication reviews (CMRs)
- Fall risk screening
- Medication synchronization
- Medication therapy management (MTM)
- Prescription delivery
Pursuing Medicare patients profits their health and your independent pharmacy.
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