According to futurist David Houle, we live in the “shift age,” a time of disruptive change characterized by the rapid emergence of new technologies, new efficiencies, and new thinking that will displace legacy systems.

Certainly, disruptive change has been a constant for independent community pharmacies since the emergences of large chain pharmacies, supermarket pharmacies, PBMs, mail pharmacies, online pharmacies, Medicare, Medicaid, PPNs, the Affordable Care Act, more regulations, and lower reimbursements to name just a few.

Houle contends that organizations of all sizes that do not shift their strategic thinking from planning for the next fiscal year to envisioning their future for the next four to six years out will struggle mightily to survive. That brings us to 2020, and your vision of your pharmacy.

Independent pharmacy specialties and services that differentiate

With all their advantages, major pharmacy retailers are saddled with the disadvantage of all needing to be the same. Many independent pharmacies have turned to specialization and value added services as a way of differentiating themselves from their larger but more generic competition.

Deep understanding of patients and community has led to many different types of specialties and value added services. Here are just a few:

  • Compounding (exclusively)
  • Compounding (hybrid maintaining full pharmacy practice)
  • Medical Therapy Management
  • Medical supplies & equipment
  • Pharmacy plus homeopathic remedies and dietary supplements
  • Pharmacy plus upscale personal care items
  • Pharmacy plus pet pharmaceuticals (including veterinary compounding)
  • Prescription synchronization
  • Free delivery

Is there a specialty in your pharmacy’s future?

Disintermediation – eliminating the middle man to save time and money

As David Houle explains in the video below, disintermediation is a disruptive change that began in the 90s when the Internet allowed us to eliminate intermediaries in many of our transactions, including stock and air travel purchases, that will increase dramatically during the shift age.

(This video is meant only to illustrate David Houle’s concept of disintermediation in the shift age. No endorsement by David Houle is expressed or implied.)



Disintermediation is key to taking back control of your time and your margins.

For an independent pharmacy, the development of direct online pharmaceuticals ordering was a first, transitional stage in the disintermediation of the pharmacy-seller supply chain. But for those using more than one or two suppliers, the ordering process had to be repeated for each supplier, while purchasing from or selling to other pharmacies could be handled only by phone and fax.

TRxADE is a disintermediation agent of the shift age, giving independent pharmacies free access to compare wholesale drug prices and purchase directly from multiple suppliers with no middle man in the way.

Pharmacies started using TRxADE to save time and money in 2010. In its first four years, 2,000 independent pharmacies joined TRxADE. At the current rate, that number will more than double in the next 12 months.

TRxADE’s 2020 vision includes helping more than half of all independent pharmacies in the United States save on 10-20% of their drug purchases. We are well on our way.

What is your vision of your pharmacy in the year 2020?

What will your pharmacy look like in 2020? Has your pharmacy already made substantial changes? Will there be more?

Please share your vision in the comments.