THIS MONTH’S PHARMACISTS IN MOTION
These two pharmacists share more than a name. Alan MacDonald, pharmacist-owner of Pharmasave #128 in Chilliwack, B.C., and pharmacist Alan Rejesky also know how to turn their specialized knowledge into business offerings that earn dollars.
WHAT SETS THEM APART
MacDonald and Rejesky have developed patient consultation programs on a variety of disease states; programs so effective that patients willingly pay for them. MacDonald and Rejesky broke the fee-for-service barrier with their patients for the first time in the spring of 1999, when the pharmacy began offering bone density scanning as part of an osteoporosis clinic.
WHAT THEY DO
The osteoporosis clinic–a big hit with patients–runs every three months, serving about 40 patients per day. Patients pay $45 for a complete bone density scan and a 30-minute consultation to discuss the results of the scan. “There’s an incredible number of people willing to pay for these services,” says MacDonald, adding, “only one patient has ever cancelled the appointment due to cost.”
MORE PATIENT SERVICES
Patients can buy a number of consultation services. For $25, the pharmacists will perform a cholesterol screening and consultation. An asthma program, including blood glucose monitor training; and a lifestyle consultation (developed by Pharmasave), including a review of medications, diet and exercise are a few of the other services patients can buy at MacDonald’s pharmacy. A smoking cessation program is also in the works.
CASH FOR COUNSELLING
Although their customers are willing to pay out of their own pockets, so far, no drug plan sponsors have agreed to cover the consultation services these pharmacists provide. “It’s challenge to convince third-party payers that there’s big savings in the services we’re providing,” says MacDonald. “We have to drive home the point that they’re getting value in what they’re paying for.”
INVESTING IN THEIR EXPERTISE
To help keep up with their patients’ needs, MacDonald and Rejesky have completed a 300-hour diploma correspondence course to become certified asthma educators. The pharmacy was also chosen by Pharmasave head office as one of six stores to test a new managed care software documentation program.
Customers remain loyal to the pharmacy because they realize the benefits in the services offered, notes MacDonald. “Knowing that you are making a difference to a patient’s quality of life is very fulfilling,” he says. Now that the pair have convinced patients that their enhanced services are worth paying for, their next step is to prove their value to payers. But for now, says MacDonald they will just continue to “push the envelope.”