December 13, 2018
Check your pharmacy’s heartbeat against the pulse of the industry with the 2018 Digest from the National Community Pharmacists Association (NCPA). The yearly publication, compiled from surveys of independent pharmacy owners, breaks down the struggles and successes shaping the profession.
“The NCPA Digest is an annual barometer for independent community pharmacy owners to benchmark their pharmacy business against their peers and their competitors across America,” said NCPA CEO B. Douglas Hoey, Pharmacist, MBA.
“The Digest shows what makes community pharmacies successful and distinctive.”
Data from this year’s Digest tells of the endurance of independent pharmacy. Through thick and thin, independents continue to find ways to thrive year after year. “Independent community pharmacists have repeatedly demonstrated their resilience and ability to modify and reinvent their practices,” Hoey said. “They zig when everyone else zags, and they will have to continue to do so.”
One of the trending “zigs” includes diversifying revenue with services like compounding, long-term care, immunizations, medication therapy management, and others. These additions come amid stagnant year-over-year revenue for independent pharmacy, due to pressures that by now have become commonplace: declining reimbursements, unpredictable DIR fees, generic deflation, and growing consolidations among payers. These pressures have caused a slight drop in annual prescriptions and the number of independent pharmacies, which extends the downward slope from the past several years.
In light of stagnant revenue and increasing payer expectations for value-driven care, NCPA has been promoting pharmacy networks as the next adaptation to keep independents afloat. Community Pharmacy Enhanced Services Networks (CPESN) are local networks of pharmacies that partner with health plan sponsors to provide enhanced services to improve their quality of care and lower healthcare costs. “Parlaying their unique patient services into a network recognized by payers is not only the right thing to do,” Hoey said. “Based on the financials it’s the necessary thing to do.”
Enhanced networks that lower healthcare costs help propel pharmacies forward by appealing to payers and by proving their value as providers. The local networks “reduce costs, drive improved health outcomes for patients, and provide a high level of care,” Hoey said.
With or without a network, independent pharmacies need to continue offering services that set them apart and compete with the national players, including pharmacist-provided care, home delivery, adherence packaging, and medication synchronization, Hoey said. “Staying behind the counter and waiting for business to walk into the pharmacy just doesn’t work anymore.”
But improving business won’t be enough on its own. Advocacy efforts will need to pave a viable path to the future. And progress on the political front depends on you. “Independents have to keep up the pressure, tell their stories, and make sure their voices are heard,” Hoey said.
The future looks as bright as independent pharmacies make it. If they continue with their characteristic grit and ingenuity, they’ll keep on keepin’ on. “Independent community pharmacies continue to lead the way in innovations that define the future of pharmacy practice—something community pharmacy owners already know.”
This article was published in our quarterly print magazine, which covers relevant topics in greater depth featuring leading experts in the industry. Subscribe to receive the quarterly print issue in your mailbox. All registered independent pharmacies in the U.S. are eligible to receive a free subscription.
Read more articles from the December issue: