Community pharmacists are providing more clinical services and getting paid for them, finding new ways to grow their business. Membership in CPESN (Community Pharmacy Enhanced Services Networks) is a great place to start, but let’s dig deeper here on 4 profitable services that were highlighted at the last NCPA convention.
Convenience packaging: A customer with several monthly prescriptions is often willing to pay non-preferred pharmacy copays for the extra value of convenience packaging. So in the wake of Amazon’s acquisition of PillPack, it’s vital to talk to them about your pharmacy’s local solutions.
Remind them that you stand apart because of your personalized service, relationships with their providers, and direct physical access. Consider making convenience packaging free for everyone or for those with a minimum number of prescriptions; you could also charge just to cover labor costs.
There may be a lot of opportunity in your current patient population. Reach out to patients who:
- are flagged for medication therapy management (MTM)
- get early or late refill notices
- have home care
- take more than 7 medications or take them multiple times a day – especially seniors
- have repeat hospitalizations or ER visits
- purchase a med planner
- take meds at school
- are mental-health case managers
Also be sure to think through the logistics – like remodeling work areas, training staff, and documenting process errors for improvement.
Point-of-care testing: Is it strep or the flu? Your store could become the easy go-to for patients to get an answer. Millions of annual cases of influenza and acute pharyngitis, and millions of people needing Hepatitis C, HIV, or diabetes screening, make a compelling business case.
To get started with point-of-care testing, think about attending a related tradeshow. You’ll later need to apply for a CLIA waiver, train employees on devices, meet with physicians, and market to the local community, such as the school system. It’s very important to research legal/state pharmacy board considerations, settle on training requirements and protocols (who’s going to do what, when?), and plan for documentation (what’s going to be shared with whom, when?).
Mental health first aid: Because 1 in 5 Americans will experience mental illness, your pharmacy could be a first line of defense against crisis. Mental Health First Aid training can reduce the stigmas that hinder patient care, and this service makes sense for community pharmacies because of their:
- already-established trust
- access to medical records like drug lists
- existing relationships with mental health providers
Business and health benefits include goodwill, better customer and community relationships, and prolonged and improved patient lives. Note that it’s already common for some state agencies to work with pharmacies to ensure certain people remain adherent with their mental-health medications.
Medical billing: Even if your state hasn’t given provider status to pharmacists, you could be considered clinical staff or auxiliary personnel to a physician’s office in terms of medical billing. You collaborate with physicians to perform services that the physician then bills. Examples include add-ons to patients’ annual wellness visits like counseling for smoking cessation or cardiovascular behavior, management of care for chronic patients, and miscellaneous services such as the management of obesity.
If you’re thinking about trying this, consider how to make it part of your pharmacy’s workflow and how to collaborate with primary care practices. Also be aware of the most common and costly billing errors when working with prescribers – required components of medical billing include the encounter summary/SOAP note, procedural code (CPT or HCPCS code), two-digit modifier (if needed), units, and ICD-10 (diagnosis) code.
Whether your pharmacy is increasing medication adherence through convenience packaging, starting point-of-care testing, or working with physicians’ practices to provide billable medical services, you are part of an important industry shift. By keeping your attention focused on meeting patient needs, you can also discover new revenue streams to meet your business needs.