In May 2017, Santa Monica Pharmacy and Medical Supplies of Baltimore, MD, opened its doors, fulfilling a lifelong goal of owner Aloysius C. Ibe, Dr.PH, R.Ph. Ibe remembers his childhood fascination when visiting a chemist with his mother in Nigeria, watching him mix a cough or fever preparation for them.
Dr. Ibe said, “And so, in high school, I decided to become a pharmacist when a friend explained to me what a pharmacist does. His explanation reinforced my earlier experience at the chemist, and I was convinced that was what I wanted to become. My sole goal was to be able to mix medicine for people to help them get better. I imagined owning my own pharmacy and doing just that.”
Dr. Ibe’s journey to independent pharmacy owner has been an extended one in distance, education and time. After moving from Nigeria, he earned a bachelor’s degree in pharmacy at Southwestern Oklahoma State University; he then relocated to Baltimore and started his career at one of the largest chain drugstores in the nation, Rite Aid Pharmacy. He worked there for 31 years before he “finally summoned the courage to break out on my own,” Dr. Ibe said.
There were many accomplishments before this breakout. Prior to starting his own business, Ibe continued his education, earning a master’s degree in business with a concentration in management of technology from Johns Hopkins University. Later, he received a doctorate in public health from Morgan State University in Baltimore. For his dissertation, Dr. Ibe researched racial disparities in psychotropic medications dispensed to Medicaid-insured youth. He has presented and published on the subject, to which he remains dedicated. Ibe said, “In the future, as my pharmacy stabilizes, I intend to incorporate health disparities research into my business.”
Additionally, Dr. Ibe has worked as a consultant clinical pharmacist for Kaiser Permanente and periodically as a grant reviewer for the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services. A member of the Nigerian Association of Pharmacists and Pharmaceutical Scientists in the Americas (NAPPSA), Dr. Ibe served on its finance committee, and he was recognized as Member of the Month for April 2015.
As a pharmacist with decades of work experience and specialized knowledge, Dr. Ibe recognized the benefits of QS/1’s SharpRx software when it came time to finally launch his independent pharmacy. Much like his career journey, the software represents a new chapter in pharmacy management that benefits from experience.
Dr. Ibe said, “SharpRx is very user-friendly and less complicated, yet it has all the functionalities that I need to run the pharmacy business. Most importantly, QS/1 has a very good support team that is very efficient and friendly. I have only been using this system for five months, yet each time I call the help desk, I feel like I know them personally, and they treat me equally the same, with great respect.”
As his research interests reflect, showing respect to all of his customers is important to Dr. Ibe, and it’s a definite benefit of starting his own business. Although his earlier career involved diabetes education, blood pressure and cholesterol screening, wellness immunizations and medication therapy management (MTM) for underserved patients, Dr. Ibe said, “Working for a chain drugstore is quite different from owning an independent pharmacy. Now I communicate and relate better with my customers…Working for a chain, your focus is getting the prescriptions in and out. But now, I take greater interest and time discussing medications with my customers.”
In fact, Dr. Ibe sees the chance for independent pharmacy to capitalize on this dedication to patients, despite the deep cuts in reimbursement rates by pharmacy benefit managers. He said, “The pharmacy profession is no longer seen as simply a dispenser of medications, but as a trusted partner in the community to deliver quality, personal care. The community pharmacy has become an ideal location for such services as immunizations, MTM and medication adherence monitoring, all in an effort to improve the wellness of the community.”
Dr. Ibe feels comfortable that his next-generation SharpRx system, built on decades of pharmacy software experience, can respond to this emerging role as healthcare partner. Ibe said, “This is where pharmacy is headed and will remain for the foreseeable future. Fortunately, QS/1 systems will support these services.”