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Four key benefits to on-site pharmacy services

January 1, 2011
by Nick Zubko, Associate Editor
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Genoa's Peterson counters assumptions that services are either expensive, time-consuming, or 'simply unnecessary.'

Today, over 100 CMHCs in the United States have introduced on-site pharmacy services. But many centers are still fairly unfamiliar with how the process works. According to Mark Peterson, vice president of sales and marketing for Genoa Healthcare, CMHC administrators often assume such services are either expensive, time-consuming, or unnecessary. To help simplify things, he suggests keeping these benefits in mind:

1. Non-compliance gets noticed. Patients don't take their meds for lots of reasons-usually because they never stop by the pharmacy. “When you're onsite,” explains Peterson, “it's just easier to make sure the individual at least leaves with their meds in hand.” He says pharmacy vendors will offer compliance packaging for consumers who are simply forgetful, and even call patients to remind them to refill their prescription. As communication improves, the staff gains a better understanding of why patients aren't taking their meds. “That presence allows you to follow up and work with consumers on an individual basis,” Peterson explains. “You're able to really get to the bottom of many patients' issues with non-compliance.”

2. The price is right. Contrary to popular belief, CMHCs don't pay for this service. “In reality,” Peterson explains, “there's very little cost or upfront time commitment required.” Cost concerns often center on the construction and building of the physical pharmacy, but vendors are responsible for those expenses as well. Vendors even pay rent for the space-agreed upon by both parties. The pharmacy vendor “bears the entire burden” financially, as well as the responsibility to coordinate staffing and implementation, Peterson says.

3. Staffing decisions are collaborative. CMHCs are “absolutely encouraged” to take an active role in pharmacy staffing, explains Peterson. “Some are involved up front, meeting candidates and making recommendations, while others essentially trust [the vendor's] judgment.” If a center decides a pharmacist doesn't fit the culture, Peterson says a staffing change can be made quickly. “Their relationship with the pharmacist is critical,” he adds. “Usually the best situations are when the center takes an active interest and continues to provide feedback.”

4. Clients can choose. When a pharmacy is introduced, it's natural to expect a flood of new customers. But it takes time to build traffic, Peterson says. While this effort works best when CMHC staff is involved, driving traffic is primarily the vendor's responsibility. “It's our business and we're the ones operating the pharmacy,” he explains, adding “It's our job to educate centers well enough to understand the benefits and how to convey those messages to clients.” Of course, clients are free to decide. “Some clients might not want to switch. That's okay.”